I know, for a fact, that there is a screech owl living in these woods. I saw it last Saturday night. I also know, also for a fact, that there is also a holly grove in these woods. I've seen it before.
There's no mistaking it when one stumbles upon it. In a world of slopes and ravines, trickling brooks and white-tailed deer hoofprints, the grove lurches suddenly into view. The path winds directly through it. On a day like today, it was easy to wander around inside of it. Like the snowshoers had.
American holly trees hit their natural northern limit right about here, in Hingham. I'm not sure where the northernmost natural native holly is, but it seems to me that these trees must be fairly close.
Snow fleas found fun here today. And so did the deer who left the prints. I saw them deep in the woods, through the thickets. When they saw me, they bolted. One went left, one went right. They looked like wide receivers on opposite sides of a football field running a crossing pattern. They passed each other and kept running. But they didn't get far. On my way back out, I found them together again.
The blue jays, on the other hand, wanted to be heard. When one blue jay calls in the woods, that's no big deal. But when ten are screaming at once in a concentrated area, there's danger afoot, at least if you're a bird. I never found out what the ruckus was about.
Probably just an owl.
Time: 40 minutes.
New species: Wood duck, turkey vulture (116).
Stranger hellos: 1 (133).
What else is going on: Led my regular Friday morning bird walk; four more hours of work; more magazine work; finished reading Top of the World by Peter May.