Saturday, 29 November 2014

Short-eared Owls

The day's birding started and finished on a high note, the bits in between were a little mundane. We started at Yew Tree Cottage adjacent to Westdean Woods and within five minutes we had one, possibly two Hawfinches in the scope.  I managed to convince Martin that it would be better to forego a pretty poor photo opportunity  in order to maximise our search for a Woodcock on the commons. In hindsight it would have been better to stay, as when we reached Ambersham, the car park was filled with 4x4s and horse boxes were everywhere. The local hunt had a meet on and it was pointless to attempt birding in the area. We moved on to Lavington which, apart from a pair of Yellowhammers, was almost without birds.

Our third venue, Waltham Brooks sewage works, was virtually the same - birdless. The recent heavy rains have created large expanses of water, ideal for the large number of Canada Geese that have made it their home. No chance of an owl with all the grassland under water.

Our final venue, The Burgh, came up trumps with at least six Short-eared Owls present on the set aside to the east of the Dew Pond - also the "new" pond, just off the bridle track that comes south past the grain silos. As always with owls, they came out to play just as the weak afternoon sunshine was fading.

Another surprise was the number of butterflies we saw at all the venues we visited, giving Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and from the road to Burpham, what appeared to be a Large White. When winter finally arrives it will come as a bit of a shock.

Of course - one for Dave Shepherd - Boeing Stearman???

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