Saturday, 31 October 2009
Super Strigiformes & Heron Bomb
Yesterday afternoon after work, I nipped over to Cossington Meadows to enjoy the owls that have taken up residence and been seen hunting over Swan Meadow in the last few days. Quite a few others had the same idea! After watching a smart pair of Stonechats on the edge of The Moor, I carried on along the track to the northern end of Swan Meadow. I got chatting to a couple of like-minded souls whilst we waited, one of whom was Paul Riddle - he's been doggedly surveying breeding Little Owls in the 10Km square I live in (SP59) and seems they are doing very well here. He knew about the pair down the lane - I thought they'd gone after the winter but they successfully reared a family this year. Before long we were enjoying the first active owl - a superb Barn Owl gracefully hunting over the meadow. Eventually we were also enjoying a superb Short-eared Owl which perched up on fence posts a couple of times in between sweeps over the meadow in the fading light. A call alerted us to Little Owl - and I managed to pick up first one and then another as silhouettes in a distant tree. By now there appeared to be two Barn Owls and two Short-eared Owls - though not all seen at the same time they kept re-appearing in a completely different place to where last seen. Before I headed off a brief distant Tawny Owl calling completed the scene perfectly. This morning I headed out onto the Soar Valley South (Route 1). After a couple of hours and plenty of walking, I had nothing more exciting to show for the effort than a male Sparrowhawk scaring the Starlings witless, several groups of up to 20 Redwings tseeping about all over the place, a couple (literally two) flyover Fieldfares and a few Goldfinches. The area is far from birdless - I saw 100s of birds. Trouble is that mainly comprises of 100s of Starlings, 100s of Woodpigeons, 100s of Canada Geese, 100s of various corvids and lots of Black-headed Gulls. I did notice what could only be described as the latest advancement in avian warfare, and solved a no doubt long-standing avian puzzle. A Grey Heron came lumbering over so I thought I'd try and get shot despite the crappy light. I was just clicking away and thinking I wish it was closer and the light was better when it happened: Ardea excretia A whirling vortex of shite falling down like the worst acid rain nightmare you could imagine. Of course it is also now explicitly clear why herons have long legs and fly with them trailing. Nothing exciting on the moth front other than the latest Blood-vein I've ever recorded when one came to a lit window on Thursday night. The previous latest was 15th October 2006, the only other year I've recorded it in October (usual last date each year is late August - mid September).