Thursday, 25 February 2016

Short-eared Owl Revisited

Whilst we were taking pictures of the Short-eared Owl yesterday Dave thought he caught a glimpse of a Great Grey Shrike. We were unable to confirm the sighting but a couple of birders we spoke to later had also seen it. Today I was passing through Arundel and with a bit of time to spare I thought I would go and have another look.

Despite a good search there was no sign of the Shrike but I did come across a Short-eared Owl perched up on a post by the railway. A second great opportunity in two days. I did feel a bit guilty as there was a sizeable group of people down by the wooden bridges waiting for an owl to appear, but I soon got over it.

An unexpected find - searching for food from a post

Food is the first priority

Checking me out to make sure that I was not a threat

Note that in the shot above, with half the face in shadow, the pupils are a different size. The problem is that when you manoeuvre around to get the whole of the face into sunlight, the light is too bright for the owl and it keeps its eyes half closed. Not only do you need the perfect opportunity but you also need a day with high thin cloud to give a nice soft diffuse lighting. Then of course your speed will be too low and you will get a blurred shot. The joys of bird photography in the UK.

This bird had very contrasting plumage with pale buff white and heavy dark streaking. It is probably the first bird seen yesterday, the second one being a less contrasty rufous colour.

Stay outside the birds threat zone and when you go make sure that it is left peaceful and undisturbed.

It looks happy enough but I guess it was still listening out for any noise that I made just in case I become a threat. I tiptoed away with out disturbing it, only for a train to come thundering through less than ten foot away from it. Even then it seemed reluctant to take to the air.


  1. An excellent series of images Martin. Well done.

    1. Hi Frank, Thanks for the comments. Sometimes you just get lucky

  2. Very nice Shortie shots Martin...Lucky you.

    1. Hi Grumpy, Thanks for the comments. I hope the pictures cheered you up a bit.