I went to check out the route to one of the little gems we'll be visiting next term. We haven’t been before, so I just wanted to double-check the time involved & the best way to get there. There was still quite a lot of melting snow about, it was raining most of the time, but the site was fairly easy to find. We were heading back towards the Humber Bridge and the rain began to ease off, so I thought it may be worth checking on one of the most reliable Short-eared Owl wintering sites in the country. My nephew hadn't been before, and as it may be the last winter the birds may be seen there, I thought it was worth a slight detour.
Hunting Short-eared Owl
When we arrived there was a Short-eared Owl sat at top of a Hawthorn bush trying to dry out its feathers. It allowed us to approach very closely. We drove down the lane and managed to pick out 6 birds in flight, plus a couple of Kestrels. We were able to approach several Owls either hunting along the grassy banks, on posts, or even perched on a bit of straw by the side of the drain. One one occasion an individual appeared to find a small rodent, which it appeared to bury in the drain bank.
Lifting a Wing
Having a Shake
Staring us out
Sorting out the Tail
Talons & Bill
Picking the Talons Clean
Damp Feathers Clearly Visible under the Tail
The best one was about half-way down the lane and allowed us to park right next to it while it shook itself, carefully preened all its feathers, and just sat while it tried to dry itself. We were parked there for about 30 mins before eventually another car approached us from behind. We moved off slowly and the bird remained on its post. However, I'm not sure it remained there for long, as when I checked my mirror the occupant of the car behind had jumped out, leaving his passenger door and boot doors wide open, so perhaps he disturbed it.
Appearing to Frown
Similar Expression to a Little Owl?
Sorting Out the Wing Feathers
Eyes Closed as it Preens
Caught in the Act Burying Food
Over the Hunting Ground
We then went over the Humber Bridge and went to check out another venue Ben hadn't visited before. There, we were charged by a group of Mute Swans, maybe some pictures of that on another post