First day of my holiday and I managed a quick trip down to the coast after 4:00pm. By the time I got there the light was already beginning to fail but nevertheless I decided to check the bushes and bay at Skateraw. No obvious migrants around so I settled down to scope the gulls in the bay. I had just started working through them when suddenly they lifted in a dread. I was hoping for a skua or raptor (an Eleanora's falcon had been seen earlier in the week along the coast) and was delighted to find a Short-eared Owl working hard against the breeze heading toward the shore. A nice yeartick for me, its dark under wingtips and dark carpel patches above made separation from its longer-eared relative fairly straightforward. Fresh in from Scandinavia, no doubt, it crashed down onto the nearest bank of shingle and sat, looking nervously from side to side. I carefully slipped away to leave it to recover. Liuckily as it was getting dark, the constant stream of walkers, dog walkers and so on had ceased for the day.
Apparently it has been a great day for Asio owls along the east coast with up to 50 in off the sea at Titchwell in Norfolk. I think I'll pop back tomorrow for seconds.
Here is a Short-eared Owl, photographed in Orkney in 2009.
And here is a Long-eared Owl from closer to home... hmm.. one of my better photos?...