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Friday, 16 November 2012

Short Eared Owls are back...

All in all it hasn't been a great week for me and as always the weather and the light has been awful. Having said that I lie. I have just remembered, one of the reasons I bought the house I live in was it's location and I have been fortunate to attract bullfinch, great spotted woodpecker and at last after 25 years I have just been sat watching two Jays prancing around the garden. 'Prance' is a good word for Jays I think as they hop about the place and especially when they decide to cover six yards (6mtrs) in one go, surprisingly quickly.

I have also been fortunate this week to be sat in the car with a Jay only six feet away... what a result.

The bad week must just be me, any other week I would be cock-o-hoop, Waxwing, Jay, Short Eared Owls!

The un-forecast sun made a surprise appearance on Thursday afternoon and in a mad panic to get out, I forgot the letter I was supposed to be posting, my bins and my brains I think.

I have been driving up and down Lancaster Road and past Lousanna Farm for the last 25 years oblivious to its birding potential and 'discovered it myself'. Of course the whole world and his mother knows, so Thursday pm found me on station in hopeful anticipation; eventually two Short Eared Owls appeared and a Barn Owl. The Barn Owl stayed well out of the way of the Short Eared Owls. It was weak winter sunshine and quite late in the day as the sun sank towards the horizon... again in the west, funny that!

There were considerable number of Fieldfare about, feeding on the hawthorn berries, surprisingly in the hawthorn hedges! They were spooked from time to time so small flocks of thirty or more birds would fly to and fro – I did get a couple of record flights shots but I think I have deleted them already. 

A small number of birds flew over and then circled before disappearing again behind a hedge, and I did manage a record photo of 13 Snipe in the air.

The Short Eared Owls were coursing the fields, and I have attempted to capture their behaviour in this series of photos. Some are pushing things a bit and on the limit of reproduction but hopefully help to tell the story of their behaviour. There was a favourite perch but too far away and the Short Eared Owls would fly low between the trees and grass hummocks before cascading down into the grass, where they might sit for some time. There was no evidence of one catching anything. 

The Barn Owl, stayed well out of the way and if one Short Eared Owls spotted the other it would make a direct flight to it's neighbour before engaging in aerial combat, more posturing than anything else. All bluff. Again a couple of iffy images that illustrate the point.

As you will see one of the Short Eared Owls has a damaged left wing, who knows how it was caused, it doesn't look like a shotgun wound, not that I would have any idea and I did wonder if it might be a a result of flying into a cable of some description. In any event the Short Eared Owls seemed to be coping and flying OK – whether it will survive such an injury is another matter.

And a couple of photos where I was in the right place to capture the fly past.

(click the image for a slideshow, probably better than scrolling through them, but it is your choice dear reader... or maybe not in this instance!).

are those the radius and ulna bones showng – anyone? (thanks)


I can see it being pretty busy out on the moss this weekend.


Martin Jump said...

A great account of your time on the moss Geoff,with these images telling the story as well.An enjoyable afternoon.

Christian said...

Some crackers there Geoff, capturing some superb movement. I've got no images the last 3 visits! You're right, the moss will be teeming this weekend. I'm hoping (wife permitting) to be one of the masses!

Paul Foster said...

Very nice work Geoff,you certainly seemed to enjoy your time with the Seos.Well worth the visit to admire these fantastic birds!!!!!

Brian Rafferty said...

Geoff.Good to see you and Martin at the shorties..You have some super shots..great close ups.Enjoyed my brief stay and returned today with great views of a hunting barn owl.