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Archive for February, 2011

Care Bear Bank Robbers

Since the last post we haven’t been able to do much trapping due to some stormy weather and too much moonlight… but we have been able to keep ourselves busy with other work… and have only gone mildly mad with sleep deprivation in rare moments. One night we even had a greased hair contest. Sarah won at 13 inches of grease length.. mine only 11 inches. That was after 18 days non-washed. I won’t horrify you with photos of that but here is one that I feel encapsulates our typical state of mind.

We had a lovely Valentine’s Day out here with a beautiful sunset over the shade house…

And I even made Sarah a Valentine out of toe nail clippings…

Unfortunately we didn’t catch any more owls our last tour due to bad weather and had to leave on the helicopter again since the seas were too rough for the boat. Michael sent me a pair of aviators and Sarah found some old ones in the house, so of course we had to wear them even though there wasn’t really enough sun to make them necessary.

On my break I took a Wilderness First Aid course and got certified… this was one of my classmates:

Another one of my classmates let us stay on a Tall Ship the Bill of Rights that she works on and here is her cousin, Broer, playing guitar while wearing his kitten sweater. Unfortuntely I don’t have a picture of “First Mate Katz” playing her saw.

Since back on island we have had a bit more bad trapping weather, until last night when the winds were calm and the skies were dark. And we caught two owls! Huzzah! Both ladies again. They are nicely fitted with radio tags. We also got some night vision goggles and will be doing some “night ops” with those soon. Pictures to follow!

This owlette was eating a mouser (note the bloody talons)!

Sarah releasing owl spirits:

We also caught some mousers to test out our new track tubes we made… they are the cutest!

Also, a lot of plants are starting to flower.. so that’s happy.

I had a dream last night that Sarah and I were robbing a bowling alley while dressed up as care bears. The bowling alley had a stash of diamonds for their bowling contest winners. We got caught by secret service men. The man who caught me forced me to shave my legs before going to prison… I was pretty upset about the whole ordeal.

I forgot to smell the owls, so I still don’t know what they smell like.

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Okay, so I have a quite a bit to say, hang in there if you can…

Our first tour of the the island was a kind of a let down. We spent several nights huddled in a cave on the side of a cliff with mildewed wool blankets we scavenged from the shop to keep us warm. We’d wait until about 6am hoping to hear our transceiver signal that we’d caught an owl. It signaled once — getting our hopes up after hours in the cold and dark — only to find the wind had set off the transmitter. No owl. Much frustration. Especially when very sleepy. I think one of the few things that kept me awake those nights (other than being horribly uncomfortable) was the need to scare away mice from getting cozy with me. There are some pleasant things about sitting in a cave for 9 hours…. like watching meteors, listening to whales breath, and having close encounters with storm-petrels buzzing the cave entrance. The sunrises aren’t bad either.

Sarah in the Cave

Sunrise over Catalina Island

We got delayed on our second tour due to rough seas and had to take the helicopter again instead of the boat. Here’s some photos of our super rad flight suits and storm-trooper helmets we are required to wear.

Pre-departure shot with Charlie the pilot

Flying to the island

We had some windy nights our first few days back and couldn’t trap. We preoccupied ourselves with other tasks such as helping to build the deck on the new nursery shade house and building some bal-chatri traps. We also decked out our decoy owl with some feathers to give him some flare and a bit of life. We named him Korben Dallas. Here he is eating the fake lure mouse I made:

Korben Dallas

Sasha relaxing after a hard day working on the deck

And here is a male kestrel that likes to hang by the house eviscerating his lunch on the visitor welcome sign. He needs a name. Something intimidating. Any ideas?

"Lay off me, I'm starving!"

And a pterodactyl:

Brown Pelican

So, here’s where it gets FUN! We finally caught an owl!  Here’s the pretty lady (with brood patch!) that we caught near the house:

"Help, please?"

Just before release. I am HAPPY! Owl about to be happy.

Moments after releasing her our transceiver alarmed that the furthest trap — up the steepest trail — had been set off. Sarah and I grabbed our supplies and set off at a valiant full speed race up the hill only to realize within less than a minute that we are not runners. Particularly not up-hill runners. And especially not with gear on our backs. We slowed to a very fast walk (we are at least good at hiking!) and when we finally reached the trap (gasping for air) we saw that there was only a single feather caught. Touché owl, touché.

Oh, and I have no idea what a barn owl smells like. I’ll remember to smell one next time.

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