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.


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


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…


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


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




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.


A Robin catches the winter sunlight


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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