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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Adrian Binns

November 8, 2008
Saw-whet Owl Banding at Hidden Valley, PA

Leader: Adrian Binns

Showers came through during the day as a small front pushed eastwards. The timing could not have been better for our field trip, clearing the way for a wonderful evening. As we arrived just after dark at Hidden Valley’s ‘chateau’ the monotonous tooting of a Saw-whet recording could be heard, loudly, coming from Penn’s woods.

Our bander was the very personable and informative Nate McKelvie, and along with assistant Denise Donmoyer they did a wonderful job explaining the Saw-whet Owl Program and answering our many questions. They set up the nets before we arrived along a narrow winding path several hundred meters above the ‘chateau’. These were then checked six times throughout the course of the evening at roughly hourly intervals, beginning at 6pm. As the door opened upon their return from each foray our eyes were drawn to their hands to see if they were carrying a little package. When Nate returned from the third trip empty handed he lifted our spirits by telling us ‘the peak times for Saw-whet captures are usually about 4 hours after dusk’. This boded well for the next couple of net checks. 9pm came and went. The hours would have dragged on if not for the lively conversation and enthusiastic story sharing of our energetic group. We were to get two more cracks at this, so it was no time for any of the 18 of us to give up. Shortly thereafter Scott Weidensaul made a grand entrance along with 8 fellow Hawk Mountain board members. We were hoping that he had somehow managed to bring ‘just one’ with him for us to see. Scott was hoping that we had ‘just one’, which would certainly appease his group. Neither of us got our wishes but Scott’s appearance did perk us all up for the long journey back.......alas, saw-no-whet.

Pictures by Bert Filemyr