A couple of quick updates on some of our tagged owls:
–Delaware, the former rehab bird that was tagged Dec. 11 when she was released, checked in after missing a week (her transmitter is now on a seven-day cycle to conserve battery strength).
Having wandered down to the southern end of Metompkin Island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia the day after Christmas, she began heading back north. By the 28th she had crossed the back bays to the mainland, right on the Maryland/Virginia line near Sinnickson and Greenbackville. Then she crossed (and recrossed) Chincoteague Bay between the mainland and Assateague Island in the final days of 2014 and the first of the new year.
As of Jan. 4 she was back on Assateague, spending a lot of her time on the dunes and tideline. Dave Brinker is down there today, and reports that the waters between the beach and offshore bar are swarming with black scoters — perfect prey for a hungry snowy owl.
–Millcreek’s transmitter has been largely silent since the beginning of December — this is the toughest time of the year for solar-powered transmitters, with the shortest day length coupled with lowest solar angle. (The fact that snowy owls invariably perch facing the sun, with the solar panel in their shade, doesn’t help.) But twice in the past nine days he’s checked in with a current location, both times in the Toronto area where he’s been since late November.
Today’s location was fairly close to the Toronto Pearson International Airport — although not at the airport, we’re relieved to say, given how dangerous airports are for snowy owls. Instead, he’s in an area with a mix of residential neighborhoods and parks. His battery voltage looked pretty good, and we’re hoping for a full data download in the next day or two.
–Finally on a different note, we were hoping to share an interview about Project SNOWstorm on the daily NPR news show Here & Now, from WBUR in Boston. We taped the interview earlier this week, but it was bumped yesterday and again today because of the developing story from France. If it’s rescheduled, we’ll put out the word via our Facebook page.