As I was walking along the new boardwalk in the Cypress Dome (it's beautiful and FULL of water for the first time in many years) I decided to focus my attention on listening. Weekends are really quiet there and I was one of about 3 people in the park, so I could hear tiny sounds and sounds from far away. Around the Cypress Swamp, the primary sound was buzzing. The cicadas buzzed from the treetops and the mosquitoes buzzed in the shade. I could hear the buzz and plop of the dragonflies dipping and laying eggs. I heard leaves drop into the water. A frog chirped from somewhere in the trees. Another plopped into the water. Soon I became aware of bird sounds and was happy that over the years I'd learned to identify a few of their calls. I'm not a super birder, but I'm enthusiastic and do know some of the calls. I tend to walk with my head down, looking at flowers and bugs, so if I hear a bird call that I recognize, it at least points my head in the right direction. Today I could hear the squeaky rubber ducky sound of the Brown Headed Nuthatches. Next I heard the White Eyed Vireo. Sometimes it sounds to me like it's saying "chick" followed by a gobbledegook. Other times is sounds like it's saying "Step to the rear, Jack" ("Or give me a beer, Jack"). In the bushes next to the walkway I could hear the Eastern Towhees calling "Shweep, Drink your teeeeeeeeea". When I hear tapping, I look for woodpeckers, but sometimes if it's a tiny tap, like today, I find that it's a Tufted Titmouse standing on a branch cracking open a seed. Listening opens my eyes.
After a bit, I heard a commotion. A bunch of crows. They were loud and calling from across the park. I thought there was a chance that they were mobbing an owl, so I followed the sounds. Crows dislike owls and will gang up on them to chase them away. Mobbing can be very effective and smaller birds like crows and bluejays can chase away a much larger predator or competitor. I once watched a single, tenacious mockingbird bother a great horned owl so much that it finally flew away. When I got to the source of the racket, I was happy to find that it was indeed an owl. A great horned owl was perched on a pine tree and a flock of crows surrounded it from the trees, cawing and diving at it.
|Crow trying to intimidate a Great Horned Owl|
|This Owl Ain't Budging!|
|Red Shouldered Hawk tries to scare the Great Horned Owl|