Short-eared Owl - Andy CookThis morning at 7am I held a vigil at the 'Pipit Heath' area on The Scrubs in the hope that I'd see a Skylark. I had an hour so the clock was ticking. After an initial stillness I began to notice a few Meadow Pipits flying around. At least they were still happy enough. In the sky heading in from the west I noticed a silhouette that I was strangely familiar with. Raising my bins I was suddenly aware that I was watching an owl. A Short-eared Owl. Our sixth record in 17 years.
I watched it through my scope for a full 5 minutes as it drifted over doing a circuit of the Scrubs and for once, unmolested by crows. By this point I had my back to the grassland. My attention on the owl was broken my the unmistakable call of a Skylark. I swung around to see a calling Skylark fluttering over the grassland fairly near to me before dropping down into the area close to where I thought its nest was. Seeing the lark made me more happy than seeing the owl.
My theory now is that yesterday's southerly departing lark was the lover of the male of the established pair that was leaving early to get back to her partner! Anyway, my heart was lifted.
I'm planning a trip to Exeter, Devon on Wednesday and Thursday to research an urban birding article for Bird Watching Magazine although I hear that we have some mighty rain heading our way. Funnily enough, I had a email from the editor of the magazine, Sheena Harvey, saying that I'd been invited to Helsinki to explore the birding out in that city. I've had the good fortune to have already birded in the city last August. The best bird was probably the Pied Flycatcher I found in a non-descript park that was close to my hotel, but my overriding memory of the city was the multitudes of Common Gulls and Oystercatchers strolling on every available bit of green.