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Friday, 25 June 2010

The Silent Hunter

Face to face.
Quartering the moor.

A successful foray!
On the hunt.

A close encounter as it landed nearby.

A lasting impression.

For the last few years,I`ve been very fortunate to have a few pair of Long Eared Owls breeding locally.I have spent many a pleasent hour watching them quatering the open moorland on silent wings, then suddenly cartwheel into the tussocky grass onto some unsuspecting prey.The Long Eared Owl is without doubt Britains most secretive bird of prey as it is strictly nocturnal,However when they have youngsters to feed they sometimes start hunting the last hour of daylight,no doubt prompted by the `squeaky gate` like call of their offspring!
This particular year has been really good for voles and shrews and the owls have capitalised on this by not only taking food straight back to the youngsters, but actually stashing food on the drystone walls and in the long grasses, I have witnessed this on more than a few occasions.Having spent considerable time observing the owls, I can almost predict the areas in which the hunt,and with this knowledge I set myself up hidden behind a drystone wall.On one special occasion one of the adults flew directly over my head carrying a vole, allowing me to capture some fantastic images on the camera.Another time one alighted close by on a fence post looking straight at me with its big orange eyes,unperturbed by my prescence!
I am certainly blessed having these marvellous birds of prey so close to my home, and am looking forward to the time the 3 young owlets have to leave the confines of the pine wood and fend for themselves.I believe the parents will allow them to stay close to the nest site for up to 3 months before they disperse to find territories of their own.I`ll keep you informed and hope you have enjoyed my account of the Long Eared Owls...

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  1. The Long Eared Owl is such a beautiful bird. Your top capture is fantastic and your overall account of them was a pleasure to read, thank you for sharing :)

  2. Paul. Great account of the silent hunter and some evocative and stunning images. That first one is wonderful looking right down the barrel with prey on board. Look forward to another possible viewing sometime. Speak to you soon.