Wednesday, 21 October 2015


A lot of birding is about being in the right place at the right time with an element of luck thrown in.

The arable fields at Emmett's farm along with various stretches of set-aside and game cover strips has always looked to me to offer my best chance of getting species such as Merlin, harriers and owls.  Indeed I was fortunate enough to bump into a male Hen Harrier here just two weeks ago.  For the previous three days, I had made a special effort to walk around this area - I had even taken my daughter for a walk around in the last hour of light on Sunday specifically checking for owls, but with no luck.  Yesterday, I had spent about an hour up to midday here.  I had found a Stonechat, but everything else was as expected.  A farmer was spraying all his brassica crops, so anything lurking within these fields would have been flushed - in fact a Snipe was - a little unexpected.

Move on five hours and Dave C arrives to see the Stonechat, which is still in the same hedge line, but he then chances upon the very bird I had been hoping to see, a Short-eared Owl.  He had it flying over the crop field for a brief time before it disappeared from view over the brow of the hill and was unable to relocate it.  A great find.  However, I was now tied up with family duties, so thought that this was going to be another one that got away.  Due to the late hour that Dave had found the bird, I thought there was a good chance it would still be there, especially as the habitat looks good and fortunately I had a small window of opportunity just as the light was dropping.  I arrived on site at 6:15pm with my son in tow and walked up the track towards the open barn.  Within 5 minutes I was looking at a Short-eared Owl flying over the rough set-aside just to the north of this - get in!  I watched it for two minutes before it flew over the hedge at the top of the hill and out of sight.  Despite watching until almost dark, it didn't reappear.  There are lots of fields here, so it could have been ranging over a wide area.

So thanks to Dave for turning up this patch tick - wish I'd found it though!

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