Author Mike Russell
Well short-eared owls actually! There has been an ‘invasion’ this autumn with many birds being seen across the county, and what a wonderful sight it is too! A good thing about short-eared owls is that they fly in daylight, particularly from mid-afternoon onwards and the likelihood is that they could stay much of the winter, providing we don’t get a long cold spell where the ground is frozen for a significant period.
We do get visited by short-eared owls most winters but numbers varies considerably, sometimes they are very scarce. They breed in the northern uplands of Britain and tend to move south after breeding where it is easier to find their main food – voles. How many we get depends on how successful their breeding season has been and how much food is available. This year has been a bumper year for voles so their predators such as short-eared owl, barn owl and kestrel have all done well. Birds from the continent also cross the channel to take advantage of the plentiful food source.
Good places to see them at the moment are Rodmell on the Lewes Brooks, Beeding Brooks near Steyning and Sussex Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve at Waltham Brooks. At all these sites you can view the owls from public footpaths. Other places they have been reported from recently include Thorney Island, Barnham, Burpham, Weir Wood Reservoir and the Downs above Steyning.
You can go on the Sussex Ornithological Society website and click on recent sightings to find out where they are being seen or contact Jess Price, our WildCall Officer on 01273 494777 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am – 1.00pm) for further information.
Give yourself a treat while the weather is still being kind to us. It really is a great thrill to see these majestic birds slowly quartering over the ground in search of a good meal.Link to a Living Landscape