Monday, 22 October 2012

Patch First!

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.

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