Solar Eclipse vs. Kimber Park Wildlife

A really cool time to grab your camera and head outside is during a solar eclipse. One of my favorite effects is the reflection of the eclipse in shadows cast through tree leaves.

Here’s the eclipse’s effect on the shadow of a weeping birch:

Solar Eclipse reflected in tree shadows.

I wanted to see the effect on the local wildlife, so I headed into the Kimber foothills.

This big mule deer buck, with his antlers in velvet, seemed confused. Here he is viewing the sun from the hillside:

Kimber Park mule deer puzzles over solar eclipse

The local turkey vultures were definitely in a tizzy. They looked to be hustling back to their roost, surprised that “sunset” was coming early:

Turkey vultures hurry back to nighttime roost, confused by solar eclipse.

Hmm, this guy seemed to be coming around to check up on me:

Turkey vulture checks photographer for life signs.

What would the Great-Horned Owls be doing? I trekked to their nest site, only to see the following:

Empty Great-Horned Owl Nest

It looks like the two young owls fledged and had already left the area. I waited and searched the area thoroughly, but now that the young were out of the nest the Great-Horned Owls were no longer going to be easy to find. 😦

Here are a couple of pics of the owlets, at most just five days before they fledged. You can see the flight feathers coming in, as well as an owlet practicing flapping in preparation for his upcoming life journey.

Kimber Park Great-Horned Owlet, partially feathered out.

Great-Horned Owl owlet strengthens his wings.

I’ll miss seeing them, but its fun to know that they out making their way in the world.

Watch for additional posts on the other raptor nests currently active in Kimber Park.

Seventh Raptor Species Photographed Using Kimber Park Open Space in 2012!

After waiting and watching for over a year, a seventh raptor species was recently photographed on the Kimber Park Open Space! It is somewhat ironic that this top predator is one most well-known of the resident raptors to Kimber Park residents. Why was it so hard to photograph? It’s nocturnal!

Here’s the list of Kimber Park raptors seen either breeding or hunting on the Kimber Park Open Space (in 2012 alone):

  1. Red-Tailed Hawk
  2. Red-Shouldered Hawk
  3. White-Tailed Kite
  4. American Kestrel
  5. Turkey Vulture
  6. Barn Owl

And now for number seven:  the Great-Horned Owl!

Anyone living or hiking here cannot help but hear their nightly hooting sessions, as they call to find mates and establish territory. The Kimber Park area is a prized owl habitat, with the many large trees, verdant meadows and foothills, all near one another.

Here’s a picture of a Great-Horned on the Kimber Park Open Space itself, surveying for prey, taken on April 30th, 2012 (click on any picture to see it enlarged):

Great-Horned Owl

Great-Horned Owl surveys the Kimber Park Open Space at dusk.

The owl’s nest was located earlier this year, at the top of a Eucalyptus tree. The owls themselves remained hidden for much of the year. Nesting season is upon us, and the Great-Horned is one of the earliest raptors to nest. They have raised two owlets that are nearly ready to fledge:

Great-Horned Owl and Owlets

A Great-Horned Owl with Two Owlets in a Kimber Park Eucalyptus

With the additional mouths to feed, the owls have begun hunting earlier in the evening and were thus active when they could be photographed.

They are absolutely silent alight. Here’s a recent picture of one of the parents flying at dusk recently.

Great-Horned Owl

Kimber Park Great-Horned Owl Alight

Should you soon take an early evening walk by the Kimber Park Open Space, especially when you are near the eastern half of the Mission Hills Tennis Club property, look to the tops of the Redwoods and Oaks. You have a very good chance of seeing one of the parents hunting for their nearly fledged owlets. If you are very lucky you might even see them plucking a hapless gopher or other rodent from the Open Space meadow.

Perhaps soon the babies themselves will be hunting in Kimber Park, before they find their own territories. 🙂

Working together, we can keep Fremont’s Open Space open. Learn more by visiting the Protect Fremont Open Space website.