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

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Favourite pair fine, but bit of a Backwoods Shocker later

A mild sunny day saw us walk 30 mins to school, thereafter it was off to check on one of my favoured Long-eared sites over the river near Durham City.
Id had a call to say "an owl" had been "found shot".

This site has recently changed ownership, but the neighbouring farmer put a word in for me ensuring access.
No sign of any dead owls, infact a relief to discover the resident pair relaxing in the warmth of what felt like a spring day - many species now singing including Skylarks, Yellowhammer, Chaffinch & several Willow Tit (a dozen pairs noted today).


The afternoon saw another discovery - this one slightly more sinister.... a real Backwoods Shocker.

Whats this household waste bin doing burried within this old pit heap....?

Whats these pipe entrances, with 'blocker rocks' leading from the bin.....

I could smell death all around, but couldnt resist lifting the lid........             empty......

I could still smell something rotten close by,
i turned to see these 2 slung into the undergrowth....
Long dead Dog Fox & recently slaughtered Vixen

A pityful sight of the Vixen
Can only assume that someones gone to all this trouble digging in the pipes etc, to create a false earth /  use as a baiting pit - to set dogs onto the foxes....


Towards the end of the afternoon, a more positive encounter with a Short-eared Owl hunting & heading off north - the last 2 years have been abismal for shorties here - whereas 3 winters back we had in excess of 20 birds.
Todays is my first this winter - obviously a passage bird, along with Skylarks, Shoveller duck, Green Sand & Pied Wagtails that were also reported as moving through the area today -
Is Spring here.... ? not quite yet. 

The previous day i managed to find a new roost site
no telescope, so these pictures of 'twigs' were all i could manage with my iPhone hand held up to my binoculars ! ;-)

another location to keep track on - 9 out of 10 winter roosts sites in Co.Durham hold Long-eareds year round, so hopefully this will turn out to be an additional breeding location....

We are apparently set for a return to winter conditions, but only a couple of weeks now untill the month of March, when Long-eared territorial activity is a daily occurance.  


Dave from Durham said...

absolutely shocking find Steve, thanks for sharing this, another look out to watch for turning on foxes now because they have butchered the badger population, great shout m8

otterman said...

Hi Steve sorry for interupting as browing i found your fox story. i can only assume that you have reported this to the police as it is illegal and it is a practiced system for badger baiting too regardless of finding just foxes, regards Kevin