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

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Short Harrier battle

The best asio winter for several years is drawing to a close, but seems to be ending with a fair flurry of activity.

Heres a series of long range pics from John of a Shorty showing a Hen Harrier who's boss!

On yer bike
and a nice cropped shot as the harried passed by, still at range :-

Images from J.Bridges from a private study site up on the escarpment.  JBee.

Post Script:
The Gin Trap Ninja writes to tell me he recognises this individual & has snapped it several times..... just how many individuals and how far these Harriers have been travelling is unclear at best.... the ringtail i watched mid week was only a mile away but a very different looking creature.

One tactic these Harriers seem to employ on a regular basis, which i havnt seen or heard with Shorties is to "catch" a whole mouse / vole nest and feel through it whilst flying, disguarding all vegetative matter but keeping a firm hold on the meal inside.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Brown owls poem n photo

The Brown Owl sits in the Ivy bush
and she looketh wondrous wise
With a horny beak beneath her cowl
and a pair of large round eyes 

Pair of Tawnies in an 'Ivy-bush'.

(im still looking for #6 in the previous post, but im told its definately there !)

Friday, 9 March 2012

as the headmaster used to say.....

six of the best.

( well, six of the second best, 'cos they're Shorties )

Photo with kind permission of David Kray, Hurworth Burn Res, Co.Durham.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Owl watching hide

Heres the view at one of the 5 owl sites nr Durham

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Single Wild Male
This one seems to be a batchelor boy.
He was close by in the same area over a year ago, proclaiming territory and completing advertisement flights.
He seems fairly content at present, but maybe this season he'll have more luck ?

Remember girls, No Likey, No Lighty.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Eviction update and daylight Barn Owl !

Having lost their spot in a roost tree to a Tawny, the "evicted" Long-eareds have only moved @ 25metres

They dont seem too put off and have been calling n displaying as usual at dusk.

A rare treat for us Up in Weardale, when we happened upon a day-time hunting Barn Owl !
by far the most difficult species to catch sight of across much of the County.

It landed in a tree and i managed a digi-binned record-ish shot!

The next field across held an old barn and obvious signs of who's occupying it  :-
 1,000's of pellets here - including several big fresh black ones
This site is moorland edge , at over 400 m / als, with pockets of snow in the shady dyke-backs - its pleasing to know Barn oels are still present after 2 previous bad snowy winters.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Long-eared Eviction

 No, this isnt the one about the pair that have been chased off by the local secateur wielding camera-men...

This is much more interesting.....

One of our local pairs of Long-eareds have been roosting in an Ivy covered tree.
The location is bypassed on a daily basis, with dog walkers & ramblers passing within yards of the birds - as usual, this is of no consequence & they have been faithful to this particular roost spot for at least 10 weeks.

The nature of the roost means the birds are VERY difficult to see, but at this stage of the season, the tell tale white splash can most probably be seen from outer space !

Heres an image from the back end of 2011 - the Long-eareds facial disc is all we can make out :-

......and as you can see, he was still there just a week or so ago :-

Now, imagine my surprise, on looking through the 'scope today........ i had to have a double check :-

I thought i was going round the bend ! 
Cheeky, big brown......... thing !    Its chored the Long Fellas hiding spot & even sitting on his exact perch !

This situation would seem to be very clear cut, & theres a lot in ' the literature ' about Tawnies being dominant & ousting Long-eard's.....

My experiences in multiple locations of pairs of both species living in close proximity for decades, leads me no to share that opinion entirely...

I have my own theory on whats happened here & will be following it up over the coming weekend....

Heres a recent Tawny pic from the Old Cemy at home :-

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


Heres one we found today beside the old waggon-way at Bearpark Colliery

nice to see one without a mass of  twigs & branches covering its face
side view of same bird from further along track, showing relaxed dumpy profile - no glaring Orange eye-balls nor Red-hot pokers up the backside here thank you very much.

We managed these pics & left it in peace.

At the end of the day i arranged to meet up with AK to have a look at a Durham City Barn Owl
sadly no show here, although the day ended with a couple more owls, when the Fog-blogger was quick to spot a bit of owl-porn with a pair of treetop Littles on the job !

Monday, 6 February 2012

5 owls 4-toed, 2 hard....

I enjoyed a 5 owl day during the flat calm, sunny weather last week

Littles, Shorts & Long-eareds at 3 spots each
Tawny seen at 2 places

I managed photos for those 4 no problem, & was sure i would be able to 'snap' all 5

but the Barn Owl wasnt playing ball & by the time he'd shuffled, preened & generally dithered about, this was all my camera could manage....

will have to try that photo-assignment again...
theyll all be sitting as nicely as this :-

Long-eared  Owl - viewed & photographed from public footpath.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Little Stalagmite

I tend to neglect Little Owls on this blog, so heres a few pics to redress the balance.

They seem to sense the days getting longer - sitting out for longer spells & enjoying the sun when it shines
Heres a half a one in a declining Oak:-
it regularly looked up, taking note of the Kestrels
heres a clearer view:-

I regularly watch them in local quarries, where territorial boundarys seem at best vague - infact its sometimes difficlt to tell how many birds are present.
The appearance of a Fox at dusk results in a round of alarm calls & lots of activity - the owl neighbours seem to forget their differences while they keep a collective eye on the common enemy - the Fox also lives here & the seemingly vertical walls are no obstacle & unfledged juvs are certainly on the menu in June !

heres the "Stalagmite" :-

and heres who "built it" ! :-
 sorry about the sh1tty picture.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Obliging Leo

A very obliging Long fella from Town Kelloe


previously over that way, i managed to find a 5 roost with one in particular ( female ) roosting very openly & being buffeted about in the breeze

going back at dusk the pair came to life calling  & displaying - looks like another additional breeding pair...

 Little Owl in ivy clad Ash

 Barn owl was here.

lastly & sadly a road-killed Little Owl from Leamside

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Happy Clappers

Both asio's currently clapping

Long-eared clapping 

- at the edge of  most Co.Durham ex-colliery villages near you now......
- over 150 pairs to choose from...... loads more villages mind you..........

male Leo displaying as the light goes
why begin displaying & calling when 'your' nesting copse is full of visiting over-winterers.....?

.....unless this isnt the male who lives here year round ? & hes on the pull ?

Short-eared clapping....

an interesting & very cool shot from John Fridges at
these winter displays are over in a flash - Johns caught it nicely just as the primaries are touching

and scrapping  in just about every rough field near you now.....
you wanna piece of me ?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Tawny and Ivy

A few shots of a Tawny Owl snoozing in Ivy
Wingate area, Co.Durham


Also recent evidence of Barn Owl :-

and proof that THE largest Vole in the county has been captured
courtesy of Miss Joan Britchless :-
nice flight shot of Short-eared carrying prey, copyright of John Bridges, North East Wildlife -   northeastwildlife

Cut'n a Long story Short: Different Seo pic from DJ

Cut'n a Long story Short: Different Seo pic from DJ

Different Seo pic from DJ

In light of some recent talk of 'different' Short-eared pictures,

Hows about this one by Dave J :-

Short inspecting Ladybird larvae

Ive been owling, but havnt any decent pics, i have seen some perched up, but not as close as this one, again by the Master  ;-)

Monday, 16 January 2012

Arse end Asio's

Heres a good comparison with 2 pics of our two Asio's saying Adios

Short (JBridges)
Long (JScott)

Monday, 9 January 2012

A Little Lovin'

A class, flat calm, mild, sunny Durham day

Got finished quick sharp

& off to a country lane hoping for any one of the 5....

Little Owl straight off - within moments the male flew over calling in flight & his mate flew down to join him...

and within seconds he was on the job...

and just before the dismount :-

shortly 2 more watched calling from this same spot

a big bright moon this evening