Monday, 4 June 2012

Surprised by a Tawny Owl and flummoxed by a Falcon

Today finally gave me the opportunity to post this lovely photograph of a Tawny Owl taken by Mike Lane. The bird in the photograph showed well during the early spring, but the one I saw today was a different bird as I will explain. There is a small open-fronted shed on the farm which has on two occasions over the last five years held a Barn Owl. However, it is checked almost daily by myself and others, and it has become a standing joke that there is never anything in it. The Tawny Owl which flew out this morning therefore came as quite a surprise. 
Tawny Owl photographed by Mike Lane

The thing about blogging is that you can, if you wish, relate stories of near misses and could have beens which are the birding equivalent of the fisherman's tall stories. Most of mine seem to involve Falcons, so here goes with the latest. Shortly after 09.30 I picked up a distant Kestrel, but something about the underparts colour reminded me slightly of female Red-footed Falcon, enough to hurriedly get my scope erected. I scanned around and after about a minute picked up a probable Hobby circling higher and further to my left than the "Kestrel" had been. I managed to get it in the scope and confirmed some black and white contrast on the head, while the bird looked generally dark due to the fact I was looking south and some silhouetting was coming into play. It then started motoring west, picking up speed before eventually diving down to disappear behind a low hill. For a second before its final stoop I had the impression of brown in its plumage. I never saw it again. No doubt the first sighting was a Kestrel and the second a Hobby, but I am left in the annoying position of feeling unable to year-tick Hobby because Red-footed Falcon had not been satisfactorily eliminated.

Having got that off my chest, I can report that the rest of the morning was spent pleasantly enough counting singing birds and checking for evidence of breeding. Reed Buntings seem particularly well represented this year, and I counted at least six singing males. The distant Cuckoo was audible again, and I glimpsed a Lapwing chick in the long grass of the flash field. The water level has risen after yesterday's rain, but I still saw a Redshank and two Shelducks. There is still at least one Reed Warbler singing, and I also had two Sedge Warblers and three singing Lesser Whitethroats.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't been able to put Hobby on my Shenstone year list yet Richard. Let's hope we both pick one up on our patches during the coming weeks