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

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Long-eared Owl roost - FEB_2011

images of 5 birds from a Co.Durham Long-eared Owl roost containing 8+ individuals
lowland site on private farmland.

( click to enlarge pics)

Bird 1





Bird 2


Bird 3

Bird 4

Bird 5



These images taken using a mobile phone, hand held through a telescope - with obvious limitations.

Hopefully they help illustrate how the birds can 'gradually appear' whilst the scanning observer changes viewpoint.

Luckily this location suffers no disturbance & therefore 4 of the birds are perched relatively openly, being observed relatively easily.

More often than not, starting by viewing the base of the roost trees can be a productive method to locate roosting otus.
Scoping, even from range, for tell tale signs of splash is a good system.
Working up the trunk, pellets may also be visible lodged in the branch network - as the season progresses, the branches imediately below the roosting bird can become very obviously white washed - this is often the best single indicator to aid locating obscured birds.

Why a species which relies on superb cryptic patterning to remain undetected, should leave such an obvious "calling card" beneath its daytime roost is a mystery......
perhaps those white marks help pinpint roosting branches when returning to the roost before first light ?

Countless hours of fieldwork in County Durham, primarily by a small but dedicated group of "owling specialists", has led to us confirming in excess of 100 breeding pairs of Long-eareds.

This week i obtained first account from a gamekeeper of a 'new' pair in a moorland edge location - there is certainly further scope to discover further breeding pairs..........