owls, gar, and hurricanes

The other day George told me that a fish owl was nailing his Koi and not to be alarmed if I heard a gunshot from his area. I had never heard of a fish owl and mentally blew it off. In the past 2 days I’ve had 4 major owl sightings and believe maybe it has moved onto our property down by the lake. The first sighting was Friday AM when I saw it in a pine tree at the far side of Grover’s. Then about mid day I was heading down to the lake and upon entering the jungle, a fairly substantial owl flew up from the palmettos to one of the bay trees. He kept his eye on me as I walked by but didn’t fly off. I went down and messed around on the lake – a small swim to cool off and some general straightening up. He was still on the same perch when I left. Last evening I saw him fly back to that same area, highly visible on a limb. At that time a small bird starting harrassing him – diving on him. The owl was disturbed and flew off to Grover’s with the small bird still darting and diving on him. He was there on our property again early this morning. I can’t say that I’m seeing one bird or several. It seemed to me that the first bird was much larger than the one last evening but owls are kind of hard to judge. And I can’t say this is a fish owl living on George’s Koi but for sure it’s an interesting experience. I’m hoping he’s big enough to nail a cat or ten but suspect he’s feasting on our bumper crop of squirrels. I can tell you for sure that I have not seen the first sign of a squirrel in an area that is usually hopping. I’m going to wait a day or so to post this on the chance that I may be able to sneak a photo. He lets me get fairly close so it’s possible.

Update. More sightings and further discussion with George lead me to believe there are multiple owls – the fish owl and another, larger kind. George said he has taken about a dozen shots at the fish owl up by his house but consistently missed – “bad sights on the gun”. I spotted the large one this morning but wasn’t able to get close enough for a decent photo. I also got a closer look at the exact spot he was roosting and noted it was right next to a squirrel nest. I know he hasn’t cleaned out the nest because I’ve seen a couple of those homeowners entering and leaving and have not seen a “for sale” sign anywhere nearby.

Fishing still bad. I’m convinced that it’s due to the rain and the increased level of tannic acid that brings. All small lake reports are poor while large lakes seem consistently better – makes sense. The large bodies of water dilute the acid and have a faster top to bottom turnover. Small lakes concentrate the acid along the shore from runoff and generally remain calmer and more stable. I think the acid forces the bass away from the shorelines and into sweeter, cooler water. Along with the warm, acid water comes gar. I’ve noticed a sharp increase in gar population in close to shore and have reduced that population by two this weekend.

Hurricane Dennis report – nothing to report. A bit breezy with a squall or two. We did lose power last night for an hour but that happens from time to time independent of the weather conditions. Measured about 3” in the rain gauge between Sat morning and Sunday morning. By our standards, that’s fairly wimpy. My nephew Glenny in Pensacola was, per his mother, riding it out. That was when it was a cat 2 storm with 115 mph winds. Maybe he’ll rethink that based on this mornings update which showed a strengthening to cat 4 with 145 mph winds. It did show a slight shift to the west – not as far as I personally expected – so now Mobile is the dead-on target instead of Pensacola. Not too much solace but still………. Our friends, Joe and Joan Richburg, moved from Eustis to Fairhope AL and that looks like ground zero for Dennis. On Friday they were planning to stay put but won’t be at all surprised to hear they flew the coop. Good luck to all.

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