Thursday, April 4, 2019

Long Time No See

My April Fool of Sunday evening produced mixed results. Many readers failed to notice, even remarking that Birdchase seemed a great idea. The blog stats reveal that just one canny lady from Canada spotted the obvious clues, while several others didn't and then followed the link to read about “God’s Gift to April Fool's Jokes”. I heard that one or two readers took umbrage as they failed to appreciate the jest. Many birders take their pastime far too seriously. 

Enough of the jokes, the weather has turned cold again with arctic winds bringing cold mornings when we should be bathed in April sunshine. Just the other day there was a 15 car pile-up when a mini-blizzard of snow and hail hit the M55 near Kirkham, Preston. 

It was cold and misty on Saturday when Andy and I met up to a reasonable enough forecast that promised a morning’s ringing around the targeting of spring arriving Meadow Pipits. Mist hung around for more than 3 hours and only cleared when a biting northerly sprung up. We caught less than 10 birds with the highlight being 4 Meadow Pipits, 1 Reed Bunting and 1 Greenfinch, the latter now something of a rarity in our mist nets. 

Meadow Pipit


It’s always interesting to catch a Reed Bunting or two. Except in autumn when all juveniles look alike, it is rare that two same sex Reed Buntings are similarly attired. The timing and extent of their moults can vary so much that an individual can look completely different to the next bird caught at the very same time. The handsome male below is a second calendar year – born 2018. 

Reed Bunting 

If a Greenfinch is now an occasional treat a real rarity appeared by way of not one, but two Long-eared Owls roosting in the lee of the wind in amongst the lower branches of nearby trees. 

There has been one owl and sometimes two for some weeks now, but into April time for Long-eared Owls suggests a breeding pair with a nearby nest containing eggs or small young.  Suitable evenings soon will see us listening out for the “squeaky gate” calls of owlets at a number of likely trees that have old crow’s nests. 

Long-eared Owls 

In this part of Lancashire the Long-eared Owl is very scarce, perhaps even rare, a species that goes unnoticed because of its highly nocturnal habits. They are more commonly seen in winter when individuals may congregate in daytime roosts which are probably comprised of wholly migratory owls from Northern Europe rather than the mainly sedentary British population. 

The owls’ night-time habits do not lend them to easy survey during spring and summer with most bird watchers experience of the species confined to seeing them in winter roosts. These owl gatherings inevitably lead to the birds’ location becoming common knowledge through digital media followed by daily and merciless targeting by twitchers and toggers. Eventually the owls abandon even these traditional sites and seek out quieter less well known spots to spend their daylight hours. 

Hence our location is secret but highly unlikely to be the only Long-eared Owls around should any enquiring bird watcher decide to look for their own owl some rather than await a message on Whatsapp or Birdchase.

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday.


eileeninmd said...

Hello, great birds and sightings. I love the Long-eared Owl couple. Wishing you a happy day!

Lowcarb team member said...

The weather this week has turned so much colder! We had terrible hailstorms yesterday, it made the world quite white … our grass looked as if it had a layer of snow, except that it was ice!

But back to birding, it's always lovely to see your bird pictures, especially nice to see the Long-eared Owls.

Hope you enjoy the up-coming weekend.

All the best Jan

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

Yep! You got me on the April Fool! Weather cold raining and miserable here
also. Great to see the Greenfinch I have not had one in my garden for some time now.

italiafinlandia said...

I am not totally sure if I know the birds in your post today...but they are all cute! The owls are striking.
Have a productive weekend!

Rhodesia said...

LOL you had me on the April Fool, I thought it was a brilliant idea! Maybe time someone actually did something like it 😉
Love the Long-eared owls, saw the Little Owl in our garden this week, what a delight. I have been feeling very down with a sore throat and a very woolly head and the Little owl cheered me up no end. Have a good weekend, Diane

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, beautiful birds. The owls are a favorite, great photos.
Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend.

Betty Crow said...

Wonderful shots, but the greenfinch and reed bunting really caught my eye.

sandyland said...

some real favorites

Adam Jones said...

I missed your April Fools post Phil, so I'll take a look back. :) I enjoy the sound of the Meadow Pipit as I walk across the uplands and moors. It's a very good looking bird too. Nice to have a Long Eared Owls not too far away from you. I know of a site in Cheshire where there are sometimes up to 5 or 6 birds roosting.

Angie said...

Phil - you know I love owls, so it is heart-warming that you have seen not one but two of the Long-Eared, with potential for a nest nearby. Nifty!

Angie said...

Phil - not sure my comment went through, so I will try again. You know I love owls, so it is heartwarming that you have seen not one but two of the Long-Eared variety, with the potential for a nest!

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Very nice and varied images .. Well done .. Greetings ..

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