October 3 – Great Gray Owl, Northern Lights, Shooting Star

I saw them all today (the owl, northern lights and shooting star), but no photos of any of them. Just a sunset photo.

Toby Burke joined my evening vigil tonight at the open field site next to the spruce trees where I had heard Great Gray Owl calls last night. At 8:00 pm tonight (sunset about 7:30), we heard the first calling immature. The calls lasted about 15 minutes, with about 1 call per minute, changing location from very near to us in the spruce forest to quite far away. Just before we stopped hearing the distant calls, we both saw a dark owl silhouette drop from near the top of one of the nearest spruce trees to out of sight. It is our thinking that there were at least two Great Gray Owls, a silent adult that we saw and a noisy juvenile. And that was it for owl sightings.

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Later after dark on the drive back to my motel, I pulled off the road at a couple of dark spots and saw the northern lights that Toby and two of his sons had mentioned they were seeing on their walk home after our owling. I also saw a lovely falling star.

Much of the rest of the day today revolved around moose sightings. The first was a bull moose in the morning on Feuding Lane north of Sterling while I was in the car searching for more Great Gray Owls. The second was another bull moose in the afternoon  just ahead of me on a trail walk, between me and my car. This moose actually checked out my car while I waited patiently for it to move along so I could get in the car. The third and fourth moose sightings were of females, both very near to me also. The moose must know that hunting season here is over for the year.

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Birds today began with hearing a Great Horned Owl hooting north of Sterling. Photographed were Boreal Chickaees (calling everywhere), multiple flocks of White-winged Crossbills mostly perched on treetops,  a Golden-crowned Kinglet, and a Spruce Grouse on the road to Kasilof Beach (where I did not see the previously reported Mountain Bluebird). Also seen were numerous Black-billed Magpies, Gray Jays, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and two Bald Eagles.

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Tomorrow morning I plan to try one more time to see one (or more) of the Great Gray Owls and then head home. I had thought about trying to schedule a quick trip to look for the Mourning Dove that was reported yesterday in Gustavus, but I learned tonight that it was not seen this morning. Maybe another will show up in southeastern Alaska this fall.

298 species so far

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