Friday 13th is an owl day

Over the years I have purchased quite a lot of my optical equipment from the specialist shop near here in Glandford called Cley Spy. They have a good outdoor viewing area for testing out binoculars, telescopes and lenses, and when I heard, a couple of days ago, that they had something rather special on view there I thought I should go along (apparently the BBC Winterwatch team had the same idea yesterday!).

So this morning I drove over, expecting the bird in question to be several hundred yards away, somewhat obscured in a conifer! But no – there it was, sitting pretty on a branch in a hedge only perhaps 50 feet from the viewing area.

And the bird in question: Not a major rarity, but a bird that can be hard to spot. One that I have seen about 5 or 6 times over the years, but not this close or this clearly for about 30 years. A long-eared owl. What a fantastic bird – amazing colouring in the plumage, and those ear tufts! I managed to get a not too bad photo and a little bit of video.

long-eared owl

Long-eared owls can be found almost anywhere in winter. I well remember several of them staying for quite a few weeks in a small stand of trees in the Lea Valley, about 1/2 a mile from where we were living at that time, in Stoke Newington in north London (this would have been about 1989 or so). Even when you knew they were there their camouflage was amazing: People out walking were passing right by the trees they were in with no idea that owls were above them!

Then, heading back home for a busy work day, I saw a couple of lovely grey partridges in the corner of a field. As I mentioned in a previous post there is a really good population around here and I’ve seen more in the last 3 or 4 years than I have ever done before.

grey partridge (photo taken in 2019)

Sadly Brenda didn’t manage any new flowers today, and no moths have shown up of course! That’s bound to change soon….

New species for January 13th:
Birds: long-eared owl, grey partridge

Birds = 80
Moths = 0
Wildflowers = 10