Saturday, 10 November 2012


My first job at first light this morning was to feed the Turnstones and then I had another job of removing ropes from some of the net rides at the obs as I prepare to switch ringing operations to my feeding station. I fed the Turnstones and then moved on to the obs to have a wander round before removing the ropes.

It started off fairly cloudy this morning, but this soon decreased to virtually clear skies, but the wind remained a fairly stiff SSW all morning. First up were three Redwings heading east as I got out of my car and walking down the hedge-lined track it was obvious that there were a few Thrushes about as I had 16 Blackbirds and two Song Thrushes.

On the fields were 57 Black-headed Gulls and then out of the corner of my eye I picked up a long-winged bird dropping from the sky. I got my bins on it and it was a Short-eared Owl. It dropped out of sight behind the embankment at the end of the track and when I got to the end of the track it lifted off a fence post and dropped into the field. It then took off again and I squeaked at it, which brought it circling around my head calling vociferously at me!

 Short-eared Owl (honestly!)

As it flew round I picked up a second bird  flying low over the field and I thought I had a third, but it could have been the first bird rapidly wheeling round. By this time Ian had joined me and we enjoyed stonking views of this freshly arrived migrant Shortie. At one point a Carrion Crow continually mobbed it and the Shortie climbed high into the sky with the Crow in attendance. They both got higher and higher, and eventually when they were nothing more than dots the Crow gave up. We thought the Shortie would then drift off after gaining such height, but it held it's wings high over it's body and plummeted earthwards. It would then pull its wings down to slow down and it repeatedly did this until it was back at ground level. Awesome!

 Short-eared Owl

The other facet of this bird was that it was very vocal, something I haven't seen much of with Shorties in the past. I then continued on my rounds and noticed there was a little vis in the form of 20 Chaffinches, Rock Pipit, six Meadwo Pipits and three Siskins all heading south. Have a look later at Fleetwood Bird Observatory for some impressive vis totals elsewhere at the obs for this time of year.

 Meadow Pipit

I wandered through the dunes and found this dead Fox below in some Japanese Rose. Whether it had died of natural causes I don't know. On the flooded fields were 50 Redshanks, 72 Oystercatchers and 11 Curlews.

I had a quick look on the sea and had two Red-throated Divers, 32 Common Scoters and a Great Crested Grebe. On my way back to the car I 'bumped' into the Shortie again and had views of the second bird which was nowhere near as confiding.

 Short-eared Owl - again

A quick look in the cemetery on my way home revealed a late Swallow heading south and a further Rock Pipit over, as well as a flock of a thousand Knot heading west along the shore.

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