14th January 2015 – Back on Track

After the disappointing performance from the owls last week in the very windy weather we have (not) been enjoying recently, a return to relatively calmer conditions prompted another visit to check up on the birds. The good news is that they are all still present and correct and performing well again.

A quick stop on the way also confirmed the presence of one of the local Little Owls, basking in the morning sunshine. Check!

The afternoon walk out across the marshes was bright and sunny, with a moderate but blustery wind. However, this was nowhere near as strong as it has been. As a consequence, the Short-eared Owls were soon out doing their stuff.

P1100938P1100939P1100941P1100951Short-eared Owls – a great performance today from at least two birds

At least two birds were out hunting, quartering back and forth across the marshes, occasionally dropping down onto the ground and looking round furtively. They have a remarkable ability to disappear into the grass at times, but would soon be back flying round again, making the most of the favourable weather.

On several occasions, one of the Short-eared Owls would set off aggressively after the second, chasing after it with exaggerated wingbeats, even wing-clapping a couple of times, where it holds its wings pointing downwards and claps them together rapidly, to warn off its competitor. This chase would often culminate in them soaring up into the sky with talons out towards each other, though they didn’t lock together and tumble towards the ground while I was watching them today, as I have seen them doing previously (I have put up a short video on YouTube of them doing this here).

There was also a Barn Owl out hunting in the afternoon. Amongst the other highlights were the two Rough-legged Buzzards hovering over the marshes, two White-fronted Geese amongst the flocks of Pink-footed Geese and thousands of Golden Plover and Lapwing swirling overhead. And lots more besides.

P1100953Barn Owl – also out hunting this afternoon

I am in the process of adding some additional dates for Owl Tours to the itinerary, so please check the website if you are interested in coming out to see some owls (please remember that their performance is very subject to prevailing weather conditions, though we do see lots of other good birds even when the owls are not performing as they should!).

Marcus Nash  www.birdtour.co.uk

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