This is a follow-up to my reply to Damien's earlier post. As we mentioned,
there is currently a location to try and see the owl, as far as we can tell the
only way to do so right now. The spot the owl stays isn't visible from the
Ruben and Victor Stoll and Alan Troyer figured out the spot on Herbert Rd, an
elevated sediment pile just before the entrance to Herbert Sand and Gravel.
Mark Greene and I spoke to the foreman and owner this morning, and once they
realized what we were doing they didn't have a problem with people looking for
the owl from that area. They do want people to stay out of the way, don't block
the road, and stay in the general area of the gravel pile if you do come to try
and see the owl. This appears to be the only spot with any chance of success,
to try from pretty much just at first and last light. Several attempts had been
made during the day without luck, the owl appears to sit up high enough to be
seen very early, as in til not long after first light, and was also seen just
before dusk, so this is a possibility as well. This morning, it was out of
sight by 6:30 am, giving only about 20-25 minutes to potentially see it from
the time there was enough light to work with. Ruben, Victor and Alan had the
same experience Sunday morning when it was first seen here. They had it
actually sitting up on top of the bank, the sightings from last evening and
this morning, it wasn't up on top so not silhouttted, but sitting just a few
A big potential problem, is there is very limited parking in the area, enough
for a handful of vehicles at a time. If 20 cars try and squeeze in there, it
will probably be a problem. Also, a scope is absolutely necessary here, and a
high-end scope will be a huge bonus. The owl is hard to see where it hangs out,
distant, and in poor light in the morning, during the brief window it has been
being seen. Afternoon lighting, on a sunny day anyway, is very harsh and will
be hard to work with until the very last light of day when it has gone down.
The south end of the big sediment pile, which is where the pin to the checklist
is located, was the easiest for us to get up, but beware it is loose sediment
pile you are climbing. We had to move around to find a couple of spots we could
actually see thru the trees at the gravel works to the owl location. Once on
top, these directions from Alan Troyer is about as good as it can be put "You
wanna be close to the north end of the mound. Look for some orange construction
fence. It'll be just left of that office building type thing at the end of the
road that connects the island to shore. Then find an orange chain stretched
across a road to close it off another scope view or two left. The owl was just
a few feet right of that chain" The owl has been seen within a few feet of this
spot the 3 times it has been seen now. It isn't an easy bird at all, compounded
by the short duration of time you have to look, and find the right area. The
photo posted in Ruben/Victor/Alan's checklist from Sunday morning on eBird
shows the area well, and how we knew we were looking at the right spot.
This pin is on the mound we have viewed from, with the very limited space to
park past the mound on the right. 36°01'19.0"N 87°59'14.2"W
So to sum it up, please don't block the road going into Herbert Sand and
Gravel, stay out of the way as there were already trucks running at 6 am when
we were there, and stay in the area of the viewing mound. If birder activity
begins to impede their operation in any way, I'm sure they will take a
different view of the situation with an obvious result on the viewing end. Once
again, the limited parking is probably the biggest problem. We didn't
specifically ask, I imagine the weekends, Sunday anyway, are much less busy
there than during the week.
Good luck to those who try, and please be on good behavior or this viewing
opportunity will likely come to an end.
New Johnsonville, Tennessee
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