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

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.