On January 20, 2011, Julie Shaw and I met with Preserve Associate Jackson Shedd, at the Dye Creek Preserve in Tehama County. The Dye Creek Preserve is managed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and is almost 38,000 acres in area. Our ongoing study to understand winter roost selection of saw-whet owls in the area led us to sample the Preserve. The habitat is quite different than our current sampling locations near Chico. The majority of the site consists of Blue Oak woodland and grassland, however Dye Creek is lined with dense riparian vegetation, similar to the Butte Creek Ecological Preserve (see post A Winter Sampling...). The big difference is the lack of winter over-story vegetation from conifers and Live Oaks. Although Live Oaks are scattered in the uplands lining the creek, most of the vegetation is deciduous (the image below shows full leaf out- not winter). But, due to our telemetry study with Julie, we know NSWO select low dense shrubs and Live Oak trees to roost; both components of the Dye Creek Preserve habitats. We figured they just might be roosting along the creek. In these two images you can see the Dye Creek site (upper) and an expanded view of the three sampling sites, Dye Creek, BCCER (higher elevation), and BCEP (lower).
We set up for two hours under a clear sky dotted with stars. An almost full moon came up near the end of our monitoring session. During this time we never detected or captured a saw-whet owl. Based on my experience if NSWO are in the area they will likely respond. I interpret the nights lack of response to mean there were no saw-whet owls using the area during the sampling period. We will try again! We did have a night full of sound, coyotes singing, and many flocks of Tundra Swans and Snow Geese flying overhead. Plus, we captured a Western Screech Owl, released by Jackson Shedd (photo by Julie Shaw).