In Dusk We Trust - Some Owling in Co.Durham, North East England, Great Britain
Leucistic Little Owl image copyright Hilary Chambers, Durham.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Rooster II

A couple of images showing how well these birds can conceal themselves
( in this case seeking a bit of peace on a local nature reserve )

This was as good as it got - the only view possible despite looking from numerous angles & heights

Its mate was even less co-operative - the only view being of part of its back....

Not always easy..... Oh, for the roosts of south eastern Europe !

But it is turning out to be a good winter for Long-eareds in the North East

If you are out looking for these Long-fellas this winter..... - remember, dont go where the Birders go.... they'll be deep in cover there !


.A series of images illustrating how a slight change of position, can result in a half decent view of an obscured owl.
These Long-eared Owl images taken with an i-Phone through Nikon fieldscope ( x30 mag )

Final image cropped - and taken from a lower (kneeling) position to try to avoid branches & twigs.
It shows the bird as well aware of the observer, although its body language tells us its not unduly concerned,  & happy to remain in its roost.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Rockin around the Christmas trees

A revisit to a Long-eared Owl roost in a plantation on the NW Durham Plateau near Lanchester produced 10 or 11 birds swaying around !

Heres a brief clip with 3 visible :-

An image showing 3 close by:-

A few images from inside the plantation - a different habo type to that which we have in the lowlands at home - its only a few miles away as the owl flies though.
There are several different compartments within the plantations here: 
Scots Pine, Mixed Woodland, natural re-generating Birch scrub, with blocks of Norway & Sitka Spruce with evidence of birds having been in Spruce sections but none located...
The Xmas / New Year period often sees roosts broken up with due to outdoor activities during the holidays 

Heres a few more images from this roost:-

Bit of a chore driving across there & very dodgy parking, but well worth it, even if photo opportunities are vimited.
Bonus birds including several each of Crossbill & Woodcock through the shelterbelts

Friday, 23 December 2011

Shortest days


bumped into this one nr Hurbuck Cottages, between Lanchester & Consett, Co.Durham.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Bakers Dozen Hedgerow Leo roost

A good afternoon with a loose Hedgerow roost containing at least 13 Long

A couple roosting openly for a change 


This scowling bird below is obviously uneasy.
Not so much because of my presence - initially it was asleep, although a guy shouting for his dog at the top of his voice attracted its attention & it saw me straight off.

and the dogs name which bellowed out ........ "Leo !"

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Long roost up The Cheap Mans Well

Ventured up onto the Plain.....

Six months Winter & Six months bad weather in theses here parts...

Used to come up here regularly when i lived closer, round Lanchester, Sacriston, Langley
On the wilder days the numerous shelter-belts & plantations provided plenty of cover, & were more often than not a top coat warmer.

Back then the woods were still chock-a-block with Red Squirrel, the opencasts were still on the go & my travelling companions had 4 legs - A right odd couple. The Boxer was expert at sniffing out Woodcock, but in summer would often lie down & refuse to walk any further - resulting in a trek to the pay-phone to ring for a lift !  The cruelty-case lurcher was gentle as a lamb at home, but had a penchant for feather over fur.
It never did manage to catch a Jack Snipe, but feathers flew on one occasion.

So off up memory plain - it was clearly colder & far more windswept than my rose-coloured specs had allowed for.... off into the wood, out the way of the wind a bit

It certainly paid off - not only was i warmer but i was lucky to locate at least 8 roosting together - this one above wasnt too bad a picture considering the gloom & breeze


heres some various bodyparts:-

Not quite the heady days of the twenty odds we used to see roosting, but a very productive visit & nice to see them up a height rather than stuck in the thorn bushes closer to home.

Note to self :- 
Return Visit - wear more clothes, wait till the suns out, take a real camera & a maybe a dog or two.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Short interactions

Several noisy Shorty vs Shorty & Shorty vs Crow airborne battles

 These 2 were very close - as this phone picture shows, the assailant coming in low over my head.

Elsewhere, Shorty chasing Shorty, chasing it following every twist & turn -  after seeing it off the 'victor' completed 2 bursts of underwing clapping in quick succession.
This bird was easily identifiable, regularly patrolling this area & aggressive to 2 other individuals.

Most surprising was when we broke off to shadow a Roe Doe as she belted over the open ground !

Finally another field held a quartering bird which hovered with talons dangling - it circled & did the same again - through the scope a feisty little Weasel up on its hind legs.... the owl left empty handed !

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Daylight hunting Long-eared

Our County Long-eared population is well known, and in several parts well studied for decades.

During the breeding season we routinely see them out & about, active in good light, even so far as hunting in the midday sunshine, following a wet night.

Whilst in awe of these marvellous birds, familiarity does creep in & perhaps we are somewhat lazy knowing we have a full quarter of a year to see them floating about in daylight
( as a rule mid May to mid/late August ).

However the rest of the year is a different matter....
We may be lucky enough to see a migrant come in off the North Sea at Dawdon or Hartlepool or a male arcing about in a Springtime display flight, other than that chances to observe flying birds are few & far between.

Winter Daylight hunting Long-eareds are at a premium here - personally i can recall no more than a dozen occasions where ive seen such activity in over 2 decades.

Below is a series of phenomenal images taken recently in North East England by Mr D.Johnson .
(  D.Johnson website - as if you needed a reminder !)

These are of a very accommodating winter hunting Asio otus.
A just reward for many hours dedication, patience & fieldcraft.

Enjoy !

this ones my favourite !

and just a few more ;-)     :-

and we thought we'd all done well with our Shortie pics !

( hopefully Mr Johnson will be resting on his laurels for a while & be giving us mere mortals a look in ;-)  )

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Shorter days

Short-eareds all over the place the last few weeks

Heres an interesting shot from Dave Johnson , taken recently at Blackhall, showing the birds 'ear'
more here :-

I managed this Large brown lump...........

ears a clue.............

1 of 6 Long-ears
a decent view through scope, but limited phone-scoping opportunities on a dull afternoon