Posts Tagged ‘Short eared Owl

01
Mar
22

It’s all about Owls

I revisited the Short eared Owl site last week with one of my guests. We had to wait for a while but the marsh eventually gave up a few Short-eared Owls and a Barn Owl. One of the Shorties pushed up a rather alarmed Skylark as I pressed the shutter.

12
Feb
22

A Howl

Another shot of one of those amazing Short eared Owls that are gracing many of Norfolk’s marshes and dunes at the moment.

09
Feb
22

Thief

I’ve seen bold kestrels fly up to Barn Owls and steal their catch. Until yesterday I’ve never seen a Kestrel do the same thing with a Short-eared Owl.

It was as if the marsh was giving birth to owls. They just kept springing up. First one, then two. Three, four five and maybe a sixth. They offered superb photo opportunities. I followed one through the viewfinder of the camera and watched it swing in an arc down to the ground. It jumped as a vole lept forward in a desperate attempt for freedom. The shortie cut off the escape route. A kestrel swung down from above and took the vole from under the owls very nose! … but not without a bit of a fight.

26
Nov
21

Look-up

On Saturday I held a ‘cetacean workshop’ in the reserve centre at Cley NWT. It was a good interactive group of interesting people. The morning was classroom based and after lunch we went down to the ‘beach hotel’ to look for a few porpoise out at sea. We unfortunately didn’t see any and guests gradually bid their farewell, but there were a few birds passing to keep interest high. As the light was failing the Black Guillemot that had been moving up and down the coast for the past week or so sailed-by. All the remaining guests managed to get onto it and have a good look through the scope. Some compensation at least for the absence of porpoise.

I took a few record shots as the bird bobbed and dived in the swell. I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular given the distance and the failing light. I put the camera away and took the opportunity to look at the bird through the scope myself. It was then I saw it tilt its head sideways and look up. I’ve seen many birds do this over the years and it’s always indicative of them seeing a raptor above. However, I’ve never seen any species of auk do it previously … and I’ve seen a lot of auks.

Following the guillemots line of sight I looked up myself and very high above us was a Short eared Owl coming in off the sea. Seeing an owl come in-off is always good; a treat in itself. The owl spilled air from it’s wings and steeply dropped down onto the marsh behind us.

I pondered on the fact that the two species, Black Guillemot and Short eared Owl, would rarely be in the same environment and have a chance to interact. So how did the auk know the Short eared Owl was a threat? I guess it is just hard-wired into most birds that birds of prey, whatever the species, are just not good news.

07
Mar
20

A parliament of owls

We’ve had a good hoard of owls recently. A Short-eared drifted along the dunes doing its moth like flight impression. A Little Owl popped out of a tree from absolutely nowhere and stared us out with a pair of eyes that would pierce metal and a Tawny Owl was resting in the sun just soaking it all up as only Tawny Owls can. It was the Barn Owls however that just kept on coming that amazed us. Every time we’ve been out lately Barn Owls have popped up in front of us. I guess they have been prevented from hunting with all the rain and wind of late; hunger pushing them out into daylight hours when the weather has been anything like decent. Travelling along the coast the other day we had six. Included in the six, in failing light, was the renowned Barn Owl that hunts the marshes near Cley. The so named ‘Casper’ is a bird lacking in pigment. He really does look very ghost-like; albeit a friendly ghost.

 

02
Nov
15

SEO

I was returning from running a cetacean workshop at Cley on Saturday evening when I received a message. It was friend Andrew who said he had found a dead Short-eared Owl on the nearby disused railway line.

It’s always very sad to see something dead, particularly when they are so beautiful. In fact that very afternoon we had been watching two Shorties from the shingle ridge at Cley marshes; presumably they had recently come in off the sea. Migration is a wonderful spectacle but not without its hazards. Andrew’s owl had probably hit cables and succumbed to the injuries but otherwise looked in good condition.

Short eared Owl

 

20
Feb
15

Shortie goes the long way around

As we chatted on the sea wall a Short eared Owl flew towards us. It was certainly more conscious of us than we had been of it. You would have thought that three bird watchers stood haplessly musing over the day would not have posed a threat to the owl. It saw the world differently and took a detour out over the water to avoid us.

Short eared Owl

09
Apr
12

Shortcomings?

Those of you that regularly read Letter from Norfolk will know I have found photographing Short eared Owls always a little difficult. An obliging individual has never presented itself.

If they landed on posts they didn’t stop long enough; if they did stop they were too far away. If they flew close it was too dark, if it wasn’t too dark they were practically in the next county.

We were on a birders tour last week when not one but four or five Short eared Owls were out on the marsh. They were close and the sun was low but bright. Ideal; but you do have to have your camera with you to get a photograph! Everyone who has a camera will know if you have it on you, you see nothing. If you don’t the entire British list of birds and mammals file passed as though they are entering the ark.

I decided to revisit the marsh a couple of days later. Waiting patiently for around three hours, Owls appeared and duly disappeared. I got some shots but not the one I wanted. It took a further two visits and secreting myself inside a rather thorny bush before I had a set that were half decent. The photograph below is one. That leads us on to the other trait held by anyone who has a camera  … they’re never satisfied with their own results.

The Owls will be disappearing for Northern territories soon so we won’t be able to see them on many more occasions until their return next autumn.




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