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Sunday, 21 February 2016

A Ten Owl, Three Species, Day - on 11th February, 2016

It's not too often that my sightings of owls goes into double figures in a day. In fact, I think my last '10 owl day' had been in July 2015 when Canadian friends, David and Miriam, were with me, and since then things had gone downhill somewhat.

On Thursday 11th February, I was all set for an afternoon out with John. It was my turn to drive, and on the way to pick up John I called at my 'old faithful' site, No.02. Sure enough, there was a Little Owl on the chimney stack.  I didn't bother with any photos, but I now wish I had.

Having picked up John, we headed out on our 'standard owling route'. Our first sighting was at LO Site No.44 where we'd not seen a bird since 5th November. This was good news! The bird was into the light, but a record shot had to be taken.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.44
Our next sighting was at our usual lunch stop. Here sightings, only of single birds, had been somewhat sporadic of late. We were, therefore, delighted to find a pair of birds sitting side-by-side in the nest opening!

Little Owls (Athene noctua) - my Site No.34
No owls were seen at the other sites local to Site No.34, so we moved on to Site No.42. Here an owl was in the nest tree, near to the nest opening, rather than showing on the barn that it usually frequents.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.42
At this point we decided to head back towards home, with the goal of a visit to Longmoor Lake to try and hook up with the Hen Harrier that is there. We re-traced our steps, picking up additional Little Owls at my Sites Nos.51 and 23. I'm regretting the lack of photos there too!

I was feeling quite pleased at having seen 7 owls already that day, as it has been a while since I'd achieved that number. Whilst the Hen Harrier didn't perform for us at Longmoor Lake, the Barn Owls did! Both of them emerged at around 14h00. They didn't come very close, but I did manage some images.





Barn Owl (Tyto alba) - Longmoor Lake
As the owls disappeared to another area, a plan started to emerge. I'd now seen 9 owls of  2 different species. To the best of my remembrance I'd only had a 'three species day' once before, and that was in Scotland in 2014 (Short-eared, Long-eared, and Tawny - all in one evening), although I did have a 'four species day' in Leicestershire on 30th January, 2010. Could I push it to 10 owls of 3 species this day? I decided to abandon hope of seeing the Hen Harrier, made my apologies to John, and set off to my Short-eared Owl site. 

I arrived on site to see the back end of the owl disappearing into the distance. I waited, in the hope of getting a photo, and it was starting to get dark before the owl appeared again and immediately settled on a post at the opposite side of the plantation from my position. 

Short-eared Owl (Asio Flammeus) - undisclosed site
I waited for another 20 minutes and it didn't move. By now it was getting quite dark, and I set off along the road until I got to a position only around 60 metres from the owl. I had some difficulty in the low light finding it in my viewfinder, but I could see from my images that it'd found me!

Short-eared Owl (Asio Flammeus) - undisclosed site
Thus ended a very satisfying day, even if the photography left a lot to be desired!

Incidentally that 'four species day' in January 2010 was before I kept records but, from memory it was Short-eared Owl (1) and Long-eared Owl (3) at Rutland Water, followed by Short-eared Owl (3?), Barn Owl (2?), and Little Owl (1) at Cossington Meadows - so possibly a 10 owl day then too.

I'm not sure when my next post will be, or what the subject matter will be.

Thank you for dropping by.

26 comments:

  1. A very successful day. I never realised how big short eared owls are. I will keep looking as there are lots calling here in the evening. Don't know what sort but I will ask Polly , she knows about such things.

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    1. The Short-eared Owls have by far the longest wings of the British owls, Adrian, although the Tawny Owl is larger in body. The woodland owls (Long-eared and Tawny)are shorter winged to enable them to fly between trees more easily.

      I would guess, if you're hearing owls calling in the evening in Scotland they're almost certainly Tawny Owls - Shorties are virtually silent! The other quite vocal owl (the Little Owl) is only present (to the best of my knowledge) in souther parts of Scotland, and then quite sparsely.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  2. What you got ten owls without Miriam? How dare you! And three species too. It is going to take her a while to recover......

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    1. Goodness knows how many I'd have seen with Miriam to hand?! Her photographic skills might have been useful too!

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  3. What a brilliant day. I have been helping our local Barn Owl Trust recently checking and monitoring sites.

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    1. I admire your dedication and energy, Fin! I just don't know where you find the time - I'm in total awe.

      My best wishes to you and Harley, and your mum and dad - - - Richard

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  4. Great images. We had a super afternoon out, but I only managed eight owls. Hopefully this week we will do better. Your Shortie is a very dark bird in comparison to the Cossington Birds.
    John

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    1. Thanks, John. My Shortie is quite dark facially and on its upper surfaces, but quite white underneath. It's just that I rarely capture the underside whiteness due to light conditions and the fact that it's usually flying at below eye-level!

      See you on Thuyrsday - - - Richard

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  5. Hello Richard, 10 owls and three different species. Just wonderful. I love the last photo a lot where the Owl is look right at you.
    Take care,
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. Thank you, Roos! It was a very lucky afternoon.

      Take good care with that cold. Best wishes - - - - Richard

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  6. Top shots Richard,I started to miss the Little Owls,and then you put up, Barn Owl and Short Eared owls,now that's what I call a Bonus.
    You both had a brilliant day.
    John.

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    1. Thank you, John. It was, indeed, a splendid day.

      I'm still knocked out by your Hudsoniam Whimbrel images - fabulous!!!!

      Best wishes to you and Sue - - - - Richard

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  7. Wow what a great day, I am as always jealous of your sightings. Last night I could hear the little owls, but it was dark and I have no idea exactly where they were in our hamlet. I think there must have been at least a pair as husband and I both said the calls were coming form different directions. Very frustrating when I know they are around, Hope all is well Diane

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    1. It certainly was one of the better days, Diane. Thank you. I hope that, one day, you'll find and photograph your local owls and show them to us.

      My best wishes - - - Richard

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  8. Great day out then Richard.I love the image of two LO's in the nesting hole. It's a pity the Hen Harrier never showed but a pair of Barnie is fair compensation though. Still like the backdrop on/in the plantation.

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    1. It's great to hear from you, Doug. I was beginning to get a bit worried about you as you hadn't posted to your blog for over a month. Then I looked at that last post and realised that I'd missed reading it and commenting - don't know how I missed it but I'm glad I found it. Those murmurations are wonderful!!

      That location with the two owls is great for the owls as it lets them sit there largley sheltered from the prevailing winds, and even keeps the rain off them, Sadly, however, that cavity is prone to being taken over by Jackdaws (really bad news for the owls) and Stock Doves.

      That sad thing about that plantation as a location is that, in twelve months time, it will probably be useless for photography, and in two years time will probably be useless for the owls!

      Take good care of yourself - and treat us to another post soon, please.

      Best wishes- - - - Richard

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  9. HAHAHAHA!!!!
    Pete Woodruff already brought a wide smile on my face, but when I read your comment about Google's translation of "à main levée" got me to burst out laughing!
    Ok, I'll even have to write that kind of stuff in English too!!

    For having all these owls in your area, it must full of field mice!!
    I would have love to be with you and John that day :)
    Unfortunately, I am still stuck here with the - very slow - sale of the property...
    Great series and photos, a post I truly enjoyed and went through twice!
    Keep well, Richard, and share my warmest hugs with Lindsay

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    1. Delighted to have caused you some amusement, Noushka, but Google Translate really should take the credit!

      Hopefully we'll meet up in these parts one day, when I'd be delighted to take you out for a day's owling. I hope that you soon get some good news about the property.

      Have just shared those hugs with Lindsay - ours in return! Keep safe and well - - - Richard

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  10. Great images of your many owls, well done for seeing so many and three different species! I hope you have a great year of spotting owls:-)

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    1. Thank you, Linda. It's got off to a relatively good start with the owls so far. But then last year got off to a great start, before falling apart in the middle of the year, so who knows what might happen! I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

      Best wishes - - - - Richard

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  11. Top post buddy, loving the Barn Owl images, very atmospheric...........

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    1. Thank you, Paul. I'm very much enjoying watching these birds - and, of course, photographing them!

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  12. Well, of course, I am totally jealous! Wow! Not only do you have a wonderful and diverse population of owls, you also manage spectacular quality photographs of them! Very nice work, Richard!

    We hope the Spring will produce a bumper crop of young owls which will spread out over the United Kingdom and replenish owl nesting sites everywhere!

    Gini and I wish you and Lindsay all the best on this magnificent weekend.

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    1. Thank you for your very kind words, Wally. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a good breeding year (for the owls, that is!!). My very best wishes to you both, too!

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