Kaylin had two friends over today and I took the girls and Logan down to Galena Marina and then to Detweiller Park. The kids had a blast trying to break the ice on the river with large rocks and then throwing lots and lots of sticks out onto the ice. I have no idea what the thrill was, but it kept them entertained for longer than one would think. They then wanted to climb on the rope mountain at Detweiller Park, so I grabbed my binoculars to look for birds in the woods while they played. I heard a major ruckus that could only be a pileated woodpecker. I hadn't seen one yet this year so I hurried to find it. The nonstop chatter was an obvious alarm call. I've never heard a woodpecker freaking out over an owl, but what else could trigger this commotion? Sure enough, a barred owl flew through the woods and landed in a tree right in front of Logan and me. We decided right then to go back to Sand Ridge State Forest to try to find more owls.
We were strolling through the woods at Sand Ridge when Logan hooted out a barred owl call just for fun. A few seconds later, one answered him! They called back and forth for several minutes before the owl flew off. We then headed for Lake Chautauqua for a while where we saw a family of trumpeter swans in a field and thousands and thousands of Canada geese on the open areas of the lake. It was getting dark and we decided to drive through Sand Ridge one last time on our way home. A third barred owl flew across the road right in front of our car! Three barred owls in one day! Plus, I added pileated and hairy woodpeckers and rough-legged hawk to my year list. A good day of impromptu birding for sure! Oh, and these were owls 8,9 and 10 for the YEAR. We've seen 7 barred and 3 great horned owls so far. We've heard one eastern screech owl, but we just can't SEE one. Gene just built and hung a screech owl box in the backyard, so hopefully one will move in some day.
The pets have been a constant source of entertainment. Scout the dog will chase Tiger the cat and then Princess the cat will jump into the game and chase Scout. Or Tiger will turn around and chase Scout. It's a big game of tag they all seem to enjoy. Princess likes to sleep in my arms between my body and my computer keyboard. Scout gets jealous and crams into the chair with us. Princess has been wonderful, other than shedding massive quantities of orange hair onto every piece of my clothing.
Being back at work has been amazing. I'm so happy to be back full-time and finally falling back into my groove. Wednesday was our zoo keeper group's crock pot cook-off fundraiser. We had a great turnout and made far more money than I expected. I've been having a good time working with the tiger cubs again. My foot has been feeling pretty good. I've still been doing lots of stretches and exercises every day. It sometimes hurts at the end of the day, but the pain is nothing compared to what it was before surgery. I'm hoping this keeps up to the point where someday it heals completely. We'll see...