Tuesday, 16 June 2009

10000 Fenceposts, One Owl.

After the rain stopped last night, with my better half firmly embedded in the sofa and therefore able to deal with any wakefulness from les enfants I headed out on another attempt to crack Long Eared Owl for the year.
A useful tip off from ADMC regarding a couple of recent sightings from one site increased my confidence that tonight I'd get a result. I'll avoid naming the place given that it's not my find to pass on.
There was some great clouds on the way North, including one spectacular white 'dome' with several dark patches about the lower edge that I swear was a double for the Spanish City Dome. It reminded me that I must get round to starting a Cloud List.
A Common Buzzard on a fencepost silhouetted against the pale evening sky looked damp on closer inspection after the earlier downpour. I arrived at my destination and set up scope. Two Northern Lapwing took to the wing nearby and a Hare crouched in tall grass. The occasional Grey Heron dropped in to the small pond and a family party of Greylag took an evening stroll across the field.
With a good field of view I could see a 1Km north and perhaps a little less south. Most of the fields lacked hedgerows but there was a couple of thick pine shelter belts and seemingly thousands of fence posts that a hunting Owl could choose to rest on.
Over the next hour I scanned each and every one of these, several times, all in vain. Not a sniff of a cocked ear anywhere, although it struck me that given the number of perches and the time it takes to scan properly and check every 'owl shape' in the shelter belt foliage that my LEO could have put on a Shakespeare recital and the odds are that I would have been looking in a different direction every time it was on stage.
I walked back to the car in the dusky gloom, emerging moths the only other visible life. I stopped a couple of times on the way back overlooking suitable habitat. At the first stop a pale shape along the edge of a shelter belt with the naked eye was almost certainly a hunting owl; with bins I watched as the Barn Owl a probable male looking at the amount of white around the facial disk, 'post hopped', looking for prey. Only once did it drop like a stone into the tall grass, appearing again a few seconds later with empty talons.
The sightings that ADMC passed on were both morning sightings, so it seems I will have to set my alarm next time and have another go, perhaps Thursday.

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