It’s been a great start to my wildlife year as I’ve already seen four of the five common UK species of owl in 2016. For many that may not be such a great achievement but I only saw two species in the whole of last year!
On the second day of the year, I saw both long-eared and short-eared owls up on the Wirral and yesterday, an unusually nice day given recent weather, I saw both barn owl and tawny owl at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s Martin Mere reserve. The barn owl siting was particularly good as there were three out in broad daylight, all within the same view. Barn owls are particularly badly affected by rain so it is likely that they were out making the best use of the first bit of nice weather for a while.
The only other common species of owl left to see this year is the Little Owl and I’m bound to see one or more on Ramsey Island in June; they often sit outside the volunteers’ bungalow in the evenings, meowing like cats.
There is a small population of breeding eagle owls in the UK, either the result of escapes from captivity or immigration from the continent. I’m very unlikely to see one here but I have had a fleeting glimpse of one in Sweden when it flew across a forest trail in front of the me.
Another positive owl-related development is the recent night-time calling of a tawny somewhere in trees around my house. Over the years I’ve lived here, I’ve very rarely heard owls but for the last few weeks the calls have become a fairly regular nocturnal sound. Hopefully this might be the start of a new territory close to my house. I love to hear the sounds of wildlife while I’m lying in bed – either the calls of owls and foxes through the darkness or the songs of dawn chorus as the light begins to grow.
I wish I had some photos to include in this post but my laptop doesn’t appear to like the images taken on my new camera – need to sort that out!