With a little happening on Beachy Head, a post from slightly further a field. As well as playing host to the wintering Richard’s Pipit, the levels also have approximately 5 Short-eared Owls present. I’m guessing this must in some way reflect the availability of rodents this year. I spent sometime there this afternoon trying to get some shots. I can’t recall seeing such a density of Short-eared Owls together at one site, nor have I had such good views in the UK for many years.
Below a pair of Owls dog fighting against the setting sun. With such a high number present these interactions are pretty common place. The sparring is also accompanied by quite a lot of calling. Literature suggests this migratory owl has a SW bias to it’s dispersal from their breeding ranges north and east of the UK. With ringing recoveries of UK bred birds from Spain and Malta. With perhaps the most interesting movement (in a UK context) was a British bird ringed as a nestling found 2 years later in Vologda, Russia. It is a highly nomadic species with movements governed by food availability, something not unusual amongst owls. So these birds could be British or (I think more likely) winter immigrants from Scandinavia or further east. I wonder if the high number at this site reflects the situation nationally and further to that, is it also connected to this winters high number of Rough-legged Buzzards present.
Gloves off below.