Monday, 24 December 2007

The Downs, Berks. 22nd December 2007.

Short-eared Owl

A cold grey day greeted me on my visit to the Berkshire Downs today, the aim was to see the female Hen Harrier that had been present for a few days and the wintering Short-eared Owls.

I arrived at the car park and made my way along the Ridgeway towards Bury Down where two figures in the distance soon showed themselves as Berks birds webmaster Marek Walford and my now good friend Roy Rose, both were watching the Female Hen Harrier which was sat just inside the Oxon border. Although distant we watched the Harrier before it took to the air and flew along the Oxon/Berks border, it flew low and leisurely across the fields scattering finch and thrush flocks from nearby bushes as it went and then disappeared from sight over the brow of a field. Roy then managed to pick up on a couple of Brambling that where sat in bush along with Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and various other finches. Skylarks could be heard singing and although we searched the fields the Lapland Bunting that was reported the previous day couldn't be found, a few Fieldfare and Redwing were seen in flight and a few singles were seen feeding on berry bushes as I walked towards Bury Down.

We then made our way towards Cow Down in the hope of spotting a Short-eared Owl, we waited patiently scanning the bushes but to no avail but had the luck of spotting the Hen Harrier crossing back across the fields this time inside Berks airspace, it hung in the air as it slowly quartered the fields heading eastward before again losing sight of it as it disappeared behind the contours of the field. As expected Red Kite, Kestrel and at least 4 Stonechats were found across the downs and even the odd Partridge call could be heard in the distance.

Finally we managed to see the Short-eared Owls on Cow Down with at least 5 birds being present maybe even 6, one of which was a extremely pale individual which came under some close attention from another Short-eared Owl after it caught a mouse/vole. One of my favourite birds to see and watch and I never really tire of watching them as they glide across the downs in search of food.

Added To My Year List.

211. Hen Harrier (Bury Down, Berks)

212. Short-eared Owl (Cow Down, Berks)

No comments: