Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 06/05/2012

Owl’s Well That Ends Well

Short Eared Owl, originally uploaded by

I may not have got to see my perigee moon, though I was hopeful tonight, but I did get to see my Short Eared Owls which in my book is infinitely better. I’d been told where the birds were usually located and as we approached the area whilst there were lots of swallows, coots, mallards and even a great crested grebe there weren’t any owls. These weren’t the only rare bird we were hoping to see, so we kept walking along the coastal path spotting wheatear feeding amongst the stones of the causeway, cormorants flying overhead, and even sandmartin mixing in alongside the swallows feeding low over the lagoons to one side of our walkway. As is usually the case when there are rare or unusual birds around, there were other birdwatchers about all who were willing to offer advice about sightings in the area. It’s a good job we asked one of them as I’m not sure we would have seen our first major tick of the day… a pair of Glossy Ibis.

More normally found in much warmer climes, Glossy Ibis have been spotted more frequently over the last couple of years predominantly in the South of England. From a distance, as our first view was, its difficult to see why this subspecies of the Ibis family deserves the Glossy moniker as they appear black, especially in such dank conditions, however they have an almost iridescent sheen to their plumage with greens, blues, and purples visible as the light catches the birds feathers. Having spotted the bird we then found a way to get closer and even managed some photos that show off the colours however they’re not good enough to find their way on to Flickr and certainly not good enough for the Blog.. well, I do have some standards, Dear Reader.

I’d resigned myself to not seeing the bird I had actually set out to see, though content that I had spotted the Ibis, and as the cold sea air was starting to chill our bones we started to head back to the car. Well, wouldn’t you know it, about halfway back another birdwatcher who we’d spoken to earlier, pointed out one of the elusive Short Eared Owls I’d been looking for. To say I was elated was a bit of an understatement but little did I know it would get even better. The bird flew off and we moved further up the causeway to where it was now hunting about the reed beds of the lagoon, on each pass it was getting closer and closer. All of a sudden a second bird was spotted and in a position where we could get even closer. Today’s image was taken of this second bird as it came to land in on one of the posts they seemed to like to view their territory from though it didn’t perch for long, and flew off to a post further away. Luckily a second footpath ran down the side of the field adjacent to the fence line and we headed down hoping that the bird wouldn’t fly away. I think the owl was probably bemused by two large camouflage lenses coming ever closer to it, as it remained on its post until we were around 15 yards from the bird and still it didn’t fly off. Even with the click-click-click of the 1D4’s rapid fire the bird was totally unphased and eventually flew off when it felt like it, but only a couple of yards where it obviously had made a kill as it didn’t appear for 10 minutes at which point the cold sea air had beaten us and we headed home. So whilst the weather conditions weren’t perfect, the views of the birds certainly was.


  1. Nice! Very nice!

  2. […] Owl’s Well That Ends Well ( […]

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