Short-eared Owls a-plenty!

A brief glimpse of proper winter weather has been a welcome relief from the relentless rain of the last couple of months. Hopefully the cold will set in and bring some more of the white stuff our way soon.

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The stars of the New Year so far have undoubtedly been the abundance of Short-eared Owls around Loch Leven.  During a Hen Harrier count over the weekend (sadly no harriers recorded), we estimated a minimum of 12 Short-eared Owls at various locations, with as many as 6 observed hunting over Carsehall Bog!

Short-eared Owl 1

Short-eared Owls are excellent hunters, and are able to pick voles out of the grass, even in the snow!

Short-eared Owl 2

Kestrel

This Kestrel waited at the edge of the field at Kirkgate Point, swooping in to try and steal an easy meal from the busy owls…

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The owls were having none of it, chasing the Kestrel off at every given opportunity

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At dusk there was lots of activity, as they searched for an evening meal

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A fly-over at dusk was an impressive sight indeed!

Known to have bred here in small numbers, these owls often over-winter, but the numbers we’re seeing this year are certainly impressive.  This follows on from what was a good year for them through Autumn migration.  Isle of May NNR recorded a whopping 14 on 11th November, as Scandanavian birds moved south to avoid the harsh winter.  The bumper year may be linked to a good vole season, on which this species is heavily reliant as a source of prey.

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A Robin catches the winter sunlight

Robin

This little Robin was feeling particularly territorial, posing very nicely for a couple of pictures!

Other recent records that have been drawing attention to Loch Leven have been a Great Northern Diver, a couple of Red-necked Grebes and a couple of Smew, but all were tricky to spot at distance, and even trickier to photograph.

 

About Craig.Nisbet

Reserve Officer Loch Leven National Nature Reserve Scottish Natural Heritage
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4 Responses to Short-eared Owls a-plenty!

  1. Alex Gilfillan says:

    Great news about the short eared owls Craig and lovely photographs too.

  2. Dick Alderson says:

    Fantastic photos and great to get news of winter visitors to see

  3. jack cook says:

    super photos of the bird life.

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