Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Another Owl on the prowl.

As there was no ice or snow on the roads I decided to have a look at the Restharrow Scrape in case the hard weather had brought in any visitors.

As I drove along the Ancient Highway, across Worth Marshes, a group of Grey Partridges fed in amongst the the large number of mole hills in one of the fields. This area is one of the most reliable I know where you can watch this species in the open.

A pair of Oystercatchers was feeding close to the road. Again among the mole hills. The number of there is a pretty good indication of just how any worms there are in the fields here. I saw one Oystercatcher pull out a worm, only to b chased by a Black-headed Gull. I didn't manage to see if the Gull managed to steal the worm, nor did I manage to get a picture of it. I've often seen this kind of kleptoparasitism occurring with Black-headed Gull and Lapwings, but it's the first time I've seen it with Oystercatchers. The Oystercatcher looked quite willing to take the Gull on, and with that bill as a weapon the outcome isn't certain.

The scrape was largely frozen over and apart from a Shelduck and a Curlew asleep on one of the islands only the usual ducks and coots were on view. As I left I watched a Weasel busily running about by one of the cattle feeders, but the light was totally in the wrong direction and by the time I got in the right position the Weasel had vanished. At this point I bumped into another birder who pointed out a Short-eared Owl flying over the golf course.

When I drove away, towards Deal the Owl was perched on the fence by the first corner. Although the sun wasn't helpful it was reasonably high as it was only 1.30 p.m. I took a couple of pictures and then the Owl carried on with it hunting operation.

It flew off across the golf course, managing to avoid the various ropes fencing off areas.

I spent time following up and down as it hunted over some of the rough areas. It was probably the best light that I've been lucky enough to have a really close encounter with a Short-eared Owl. I was very active, dropping in to the rough grass several times, but while I was watching it didn't seem to manage to catch anything.

I took quite a few pictures, click on the name Short-eared Owl to see them.

Where the green keepers were maintaining the course they seem to have got it just right for gangs of Rooks to feed on.

On the other side of the road I came across a flock of about ten Corn Buntings quietly feeding in the meadow. There were a lot of birds feeding, mainly Lapwings, but with some Golden Plovers and various Thrushes, including a few Fieldfares, in the distance I could see a group of Swans on a flooded area. Unfortunately they all appeared to be Mute Swans, perhaps more cold weather that's forecast will bring in some of their wild cousins.


Kingsdowner said...

Great shots of the SEO, and it's good to see the Grapes back (haven't seen them for a while).
With apologies for the abbreviations.

Gerald said...

Best flight shots of SEO I've seen in a while. You need to work out now how many hours you've spent on Worth Marshes to get these ;-)

Warren Baker said...

Really enjoyed the owl pics Tony. I can only hope to see one on my patch.