Sunday, October 24, 2010

omg. SHORT EARED OWL

Amazing day today, saw an owl in flight for the first time - in daylight!

It was a Short Eared owl which was called by an American (non birding!) visitor whilst we were down at Bull Island.
It was about noon, and there the Short Eared owl was, flying above us, in glorious daylight. It was being mobbed by Rooks/Hooded Crows but it soon got away (after Susan saw it being clipped by a Rook), soared around a bit, then flew off towards Howth.
It was an amazing sight, the only other owl I've ever seen was the dead Barn Owl I saw last Christmas,  starved to death next to the River Wharfe, this owl was massive in comparison, the wing span was massive, and to see such a rounded head with such a big body was quite strange.
I had it flying around in the scope for about 2 mins, I was so grateful I had my new scope!
Of course I didn't have the camera, but that was probably a good thing because it meant I got to just look at the bird through the scope, rather than start messing around trying to get a photo.
So there you go, a short eared owl, at noon, easy to see, on the Bull.

Other birds we saw today were Knots, Dunlin, Turnstones, Oystercatchers, Meadow pipits, Reed Buntings, heard Skylarks, Curlews, Bar and Black tailed Godwits (which I can now quite easily tell apart).

The other big sighting for me today was my possible first Whimbrel. It's either a Whimbrel or a juvenile Curlew and I'm wondering now if it's actually a juv Curlew.
Me and Susan stayed on after the class finished to try and get another sighting of the short eared owl (which didn't happen, despite 8 hours in the one field), but we did spot this juv Curlew/ Whimbrel on the golf course.
juv Curlew or Whimbrel? Shorter bill which just starts to curve down at the end and much warmer colouring, but it was also a very bright setting evening sun.

I'd been wanting for quite a while to see a Whimbrel, so maybe I'm making this a Whimbrel, my big doubt is that we didn't see a big stripe on it's head.

We also saw a flock of 12 Goldfinches:
Also got this pic of a pied wagtail on the rocks.
Adult male Pied Wagtail, winter plumage
This is the same bird, with quite a grey back?
While we were waiting for the SE owl's possible return we saw a Merlin and Kestrel being chased into trees by Hoodies. In fact we saw lots of Hoodies and Rooks.
By the time it was getting dark we saw thousands of them gathering together above the trees in St Annes park to roost.
Very Starling like in the way they gathered together and flew around, not as acrobatic, but still, for large birds it was impressive to see so many at the same time.
Hooded Crows, starting to gather together to roost.
Hooded Crows preparing to roost in trees in St Anne's golf club.
By 6pm, the sun had gone down and me and S gave up on seeing the SE owl again, but we had had a great day. We had started at 10am and seen a Merlin, Kestrel, lots of juv Brent Geese, Shovlers, possible Whimbrel and of course the 12noon sighting of the SE owl.
It seemed only right that the moon was an extra special moon to end such an amazing day.
Moonshine, Bull Island, Dublin.
If you double click the pic below you can actually see one of the moon's craters middle-right, looking through the scope the craters were crystal clear - it was incredible.
Full moon, Dublin

Here's to Bank holiday tomorrow and no work!!