SCBWF January 23, 2014: Swallow-tailed Kites and Owl Prowl

After my adventure with Laura and Corey, and a quick trip to the MINWR Visitors’ Center, I had a classroom presentation given by Gina Kent for the Avian Research & Conservation Institute (ARCI).

ARCI tracks and researches various endangered and threatened species in the United States. They’ve been tracking Swallow-tailed Kites from Florida and other southeastern states along their migration paths to and from South America.

It was an interesting presentation, and they elicit information on kite sightings by interested parties to get a better picture of how these magnificent birds are faring year to year throughout their lives. For more information, visit the ACRI website and their Swallow-tailed Kite project.

When the presentation ended, I wandered the exhibit hall and bumped into Dave Goodwin at the Florida Ornithological Society booth. I talked a bit with Dave last year during the field trips he led (including the pelagic trip), and it was good to see him again.

I proceeded to head to the Sams House at Pine Island Conservation Area, on Merritt Island for an owl prowl. Despite the frigid start to the day, the evening was pleasant (particularly after putting on my fleece pullover), as we waited for sunset to see the area Barred Owls.

The prowl had a promising start, as we heard two owls calling loudly to each other while still getting organized around the campfire (yes, we did have marshmallows, by the way, and mine were quite delicious!).

Once on the trails in the dark, however, the owls were silent and we had no evidence of them until some of the group saw one fly overhead as we came back to the campfire. We only ever caught fleeting glimpses of them against the starlight and heard them call once more as the group headed home. It was a beautiful night, and I caught some great views of Jupiter and its Galilean moons, and the Orion Nebula in my binoculars.

On the way home, I stopped off of FL-405 to watch a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral, which was a spectacular end to the day.