The winter of 2011-2012 has been a phenomenal year for Short-Eared Owls across Britain, but its been especially good in my home counties of Northumberland and North Tyneside. Back in October, one of Northumberland’s hotspot sites, Preswick Carr, was already boasting at least 8 birds, attracting a huge number of local birders, wildlife enthusiasts, and other members of the public. Due to the number of birds present, and the proximity they came, the spectacle of an evening visit was something to be rivalled, in no doubt inspiring.
It was a great place to introduce people to the wonders of this beautiful bird, some of which had never seen an owl before. From getting close to perching owls as they left their roost, or close encounters as they hunted their prey, every visit was magic. As word was passed around numbers of visitors grew, but the Owls weren’t deterred. After spending a few weeks at this site I wanted to find my own, closer to home. Heading to a more local site I was pleased to find two birds hunting the large field, which by the end of the winter turned into four birds.
As the winter progressed, two Short-Eared Owls took up wintering on a site even closer to home. Spending countless hours with them, I witnessed some great behaviour, and had some great encounters.