Today I headed over to Big Willow park for some light birding. This is a good spot for owls in the Twin Cities in the winter. It's a fairly reliable spot for great-horned owls, long-eared owls and saw-whet owls, especially in winter. I was kind of bummed to see that some of the trails are now on private property and therefore off limits. One trail in particular is great for saw-whets and for signs of saw-whets and Amber and I would use it for our owl trips with The Raptor Center. We may need to come up with a plan B.
I didn't see any owls whatsoever today, but I did find some small mammal skulls under a tree that saw-whets like to roost in. I think these skulls are from last winter, there were no pellets under the tree at them moment or any signs of owl poop. As I was photographing the skulls I noticed a leaf moving out of synch with the wind. Was this a little mammal popping up? No, it was a wood frog looking for a place to hibernate.
I went down towards the creek and found a huge flock of robins, grackles and red-winged blackbirds foraging. While there I small flock of yellow-rumped warblers moved in and then one of my favorite things happened. While focusing on a butter butt a fox sparrow moved in behind it. There ended up being a total of four fox sparrows kicking up the leaves around the banks of the creeks. I love watching one bird and then another cool bird gets mixed in.
It was strange, sitting there on the bank of the creek it almost reminded me of early spring. Most of the leaves were of the trees, the grass was green, the air was chilly and you could hear robins and grackles calling and singing.