Wednesday, 30 November 2011

At Last the Tophill SEOs

This morning I read yesterday's blog update by Richard Hampshire, the reserve warden at Tophill Low. For the second time he opined the lack of any photographs of his Short-eared Owls which have been present for nearly 3 weeks. I thought I would assess how hard they were to photograph at the site, so this afternoon I took my teacher-less nephew to have a look.

We had no longer arrived on the northern edge of the site when we saw 2 SEOs - a Kestrel was having an altercation with one of the owls. One owl disappeared from view, but the other came very close. Although it was just over a drain and partially obscured by a barbed wire fence, and most of the photographs had to be ditched, I was able to take some fairly decent record shots. Nice to actually photograph some locally & not to have to pay the bridge tolls for the privilege! A further advantage is that these birds hunt over a pleasant green field, much more aesthetically pleasing than the rather shrivelled brown habitat the ones I've been watching in Lincolnshire spend their time flying over!

Also at the site were a pair of Barn Owls and at least 5 Kestrels. The male Barn Owl was so much whiter than the darker - more camouflaged female. A pair of red-head Goosanders flew over, & on the way back a Hare was extremely confiding. All-in-all a very pleasant way to spend the dying hours of a winter afternoon!

At one stage a chinook helicopter flew very low over the reserve and only just missed going directly over D reservoir - needless to say it flushed the wildfowl off this stretch of water.
Short-eared Owl
The barbed wire fence shows a lot in this one!
Hare - if I crouch really low he can't see me, surely?
Barn Owl - the male?
Barn Owl - the female?


Christian said...

What a brilliantly interesting blog Michael. Lovely owl encounters and it seems that you're as obsessed with the taloned beauties as I! I'm looking for some SEOs in Lancashire this year, however no avail...yet.

Love Kestrel vs. Barn Owl series.

Michael Flowers said...

Thanks Christian,

There is a large influx this year, so I'm sure you'll connect with them fairly soon. Good luck!