The Safari has had the best views of Short Eared Owls (MMLNR #105) at the nature reserve since the early 1990's when that was the 'default' hunting over the rough grassland that is now the golf course. Now the default owl are the Long Eared Owls that sit quietly all winter tucked up in the scrub but which are unfortunately notably invisible so far this this season.
Yesterday we had a look for the one seen at the weekend with no success and not seeing very much else either apart from a good number of Fieldfares.
As darkness grew we trundled off head down against the chilly wind until we got to the wetland were we stopped for one last look for the Stonechat and BOOM - a Shorty flew though our field of view. It quartered back and forth across the wetland and then over to the rough fields further away before coming back and passing within a few yards of us, we could almost have reached out and grabbed it as it flew by looking at us with its bright yellow eyes. SU-flippin-PERBBBBBBB.
We went back today for another look. Again the reserve was fairly quiet apart from fewer but still plenty of Fieldfares and Blackbirds. Looking over the water we found two male and a female Pochards as well as a doubling of Goldeneye numbers to four, the two females being joined by our first adult male of the season and a 1st winter male.
A pink Rose has burst into flower at the back of one of the scrubby areas.
The afternoon passed and a bit of a sunset began to develop while we were at the far end so we got into the reedbed to try some arty shots, sadly the hoped for red hues didn't materialise, but you get the gist
We had a chat to the Ranger who was packing the kit away after a day's hedgelaying with the volunteers when the moon began to rise...a Goldcrest nearly landed on his head just after the pic was taken, he hadn't seen it but moved and it jinked away landing in the bushes some distance away.
Off we went back towards the car past the wetland where we stood for a few minutes without any sign of the Shorty, we were just about to give up when two 'crows' started interacting high over the treetops at the corner of the reserve. We put the bins up to watch their antics only to see they weren't crows at all they were TWO Short Eared Owls. They cavorted with each other in twists and spirals well above the tree tops for several minutes before they split up and went their separate ways - those ways didn't include coming down to hunt the wetland though.
Where to next? Last day of sick leave tomorrow so we'll try to get out somewhere.
In the meantime let us know who's doubled their numbers in your outback.