Short-eared owls 2022

The Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) is a relatively common breeding bird on the uplands of the north of England and Scotland. In my local area there are usually several pairs that nest on the nearby moors each year and sometimes some owls spend the winter there as well. However, their success largely depends on the amount of voles present each year. Some years there are many successful breeding pairs that even have a second brood of young and other years there are very few. After my Greece trip I returned home in the middle of May to find several breeding owls in the area so I spent most mornings and evenings photographing them.

This is a male from one site which did not seem to be part of a successful breeding pair. Rather than take voles back to a nest with young, he was only feeding himself which indicates that he had no chicks to feed. Prior to leaving the UK, this area would often have owls spending the winter and only occasionally would they stay to breed.

One morning I managed to photograph him catch and eat a vole.

At another local site where I used to spend more time the pair had successful raised one chick which I managed to have a look at one morning while the adults were away hunting. I also did quite a lot of photography with the adult male owl as he did the majority of the hunting and the female was only occasionally seen.

As I left home at the end of May I wasn’t able to see how things progressed with these owls through the summer as I had to return to Slovakia and then onto Thailand. Here’s hoping that they continued to have a successful year and that the fledged young quickly learned to avoid cars up on the moors. I look forward to seeing them again when I am next home in summer 2023.

This male Little owl (Athene noctua) has resided at the same ruin since at least 2011 and the pair have raised young almost every year. However, their home will tragically be converted into a human house in the coming months putting an end to their successful breeding run. I also saw two long-eared owls (Asio otus) and a barn owl (Tyto alba) although I wasn’t able to get photos of them.

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