Monday, 16 January 2012

Owls Aplenty

Not a Dipper on patch, but one from Jesmond dene yesterday.

16th Jan. With a very hard frost overnight and temperatures not seeming to rise very much as the day went on it was a time to leave your brass monkeys wrapped up at home and next to the central heating. Cold though it might be, it was another wonderful winter’s day with clear skies and clear light. The past few days have been fantastic and if all winter days could be like this I’d gladly pass on the wet damp days of a British summer. I felt I ought to get out and about this afternoon. Harry Potter can wait. I’m well into the third volume now anyway so well on target to finish the lot before the end of spring.

Alerted yesterday to the fact that a couple of Short Eared Owls were still about I made for the frosty paths of the wagon-ways wrapped up for Arctic conditions. How some people manage to wander round in light jackets and tee shirts in weather like this beats me. Maybe its years of practice of a Friday night in the Bigg Market.

All was quiet until I came across a small flock of Yellowhammers and then my first Short Eared Owl seen on patch this year (I’ve not been looking). I watched it at length until it dropped behind a hedge. I moved on and further down the wagon-way passing only a couple of Great Tits, Dunnocks and Pheasants. I looked back across to where I had seen the Short Eared Owl and it had been joined by another. I watched them meet in the air. One was distinctly pale in colour. The light was perfect for watching these birds. Then I found another Short Eared Owl, although it was becoming difficult to count them as they were hunting over a wide area, I was sure I had three owls. Then I got my eye on another and found that they seemed to be staying in two pairs. One of the birds eventually flew very close and almost over my head, and it was clearly watching me. It flew off into the more distant fields and into the sun. Three Short Eared Owls remained in the air to my left. I’d watched at least four Short Eared Owls then, and I just don’t know if there were more in the distant fields. I accept that it doesn’t match the show that has been put on at Prestwick Carr this winter, but for me, to find these birds on patch and watch them like this is every bit as exciting and rewarding. I’m surprised, although not overly concerned, that more people aren’t out watching them. It’s good to have the place almost to myself. As the light began to dim a flock of circa thirty Golden Plover flew towards the east and Mute Swans seemed to be returning to the lake in the opposite direction.

So I left for my return home very pleased with myself. By the time I approached the village the sun was a ball of fire in a colourful sky. The clear skies have led to some wonderful sunsets of late as well as minus degree temperatures. As I left the village behind and approached home the Jackdaws flew overhead and give their unmistakeable calls, underlining that the day was not quite over yet

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