Long-eared Owl is a bird we all know we get on patch - maybe not often - but we must get them. Despite this, before today this species wasn't on the patch list, they are just so elusive. We could have a winter roost of twenty in the Undercliff and not know about them!
So although it is a bird we know we get, I thought there was a good chance it could be a bird we may also never get! (if that makes sense!?). So imagine my excitement when upon investigating an alarm calling Blackbird at the Beer Cemetery Fields, a brown wing flopped out and two orange eyes looked down at me!!!
I'll rewind back a bit, and I had spent almost an hour walking the arable fields around the Beer Cemetery Fields, hoping for a Lap Bunt or such like. All but one field was almost bird-less, the one with birds was STACKED out - just common species though sadly. So I headed back to the car via the usual bushy areas, though wasn't expecting much as it really was dull and gloomy. Any self-respecting passerine would be hunkered down deep in cover. As ever though, expect the unexpected!
So I heard this Blackbird, but to be honest it wasn't going crazy at all - in fact it even seemed to move some distance whilst alarm calling. I still checked it out though. And as I was approaching the bush, I heard some rustling, looked up, saw an out stretched wing and then two huge orange eyes looking down at me!!! Not believing what I was seeing, I took my camera off my shoulder and was about to snap when it took off and flew out the back of the bush and around the corner. Argggggh!
I went off in pursuit, thinking all I was going to see was the back end of a flying asio Owl - but before I had even opened the gate I needed to get through - it was flying back over my head!!! With my camera already in 'ready to fire' position, I aimed and clicked...
|If you enlarge the pic you can see those stunning eyes!|
Then to my delight it then perched up briefly. Although not to my delight in the excitement I some how breathed on my camera's lens so the photo is even more gloomier than it already would have been...
After a few seconds it dropped down deep in to cover and I lost it, although I knew it hadn't gone far. I sent the texts out and am pleased to say Phil and Tim were able to respond and added the bird to their patch lists about half an hour later. I am not sure if anyone else tried for it this afternoon, but I'm sure it was still there.
Well I have gone on a lot longer than I though I would already in this post - so will sum up the rest of the birds I've seen today in one sentence; 35+ Redwings, 250+ Starling, one Redpoll sp. all fly overs and not much else.