Hoot, I say! Hoot! Hoot!

Sunday’s forecast calls for rain, so when I was about to leave to run errands this afternoon, I decided to take Sweet Potato with me and head up to Black Hills Park in Boyds. That way, even if she can’t run around the yard tomorrow, at least she’ll have been able to spend a few hours outdoors this weekend.

We usually follow the path around the park’s main loop, that’s good for three miles and, depending on how much time she spends sniffing, is generally something we can complete in about an hour.

About a third of the way through the walk, I heard a sort of “whooping” sound, so loud that I thought it might be a human trying to imitate a bird call. About 15 seconds later, I heard a similar call in the distance. The calls repeated periodically and realizing it might just be the first time I’ve ever heard an owl in the wild, I quickly recorded the video below. There’s really not much to see in the video, but you can hear the hooting.

Looking toward the apparent source of the sound, I spotted “something” in a tree. Maybe a bird, maybe a squirrel’s nest. I cranked the phone’s digital zoom to the max (I really need to carry something with better optical zoom on these trips) and took a photo of what I’m told is a barred owl.

Very pixelated owl photo

I made one more attempt at recording audio and if you carefully watch the middle-right section of the video, you can see the owl flying off, presumably to find the other owl.

Smiling Happy Trees

A friend recently shared a meme claiming that someone in Oregon had planted a combination of trees in a pine forest laid out so that every fall some of the trees change colors would create a smiley face.

My friend wondered if this might be real (a fair question in today’s world) and the answer appears to be that yes, it is indeed real. (Yay!)

It seems the David Hampton in question is the owner of Hampton Lumber and this is something he and his timberland manager came up with in 2011. If all goes well, this should be visible every fall for another 30 to 50 years.

So yay for a company showing a sense of humor in their efforts to be sustainable.