13th November 2016
Last winter was a bumper year for Short-eared Owls with birds present at many sites and some holding up to 6 birds. However, so far this winter there have only been a smattering of records, most of which seem to be birds just passing through, with no reports of "residents". The only exception in the south appears to be Burwell Fen where up to nine birds are present. I went to Burwell two winters ago so time for another visit.
I arrived at about 1 pm to be in place for 1.30 - 2pm when they would normally start flying. However, yesterday and during the night there had been a fair amount of rain and therefore the birds had been flying before mid-day. This in itself would not be a problem except for the fact that then they were flying in sun and when I arrived, contrary to the forecast, it started to cloud over.
Anyway, that's the excuses out of the way and so I took up my place on one of the many paths that criss-cross the site and waited. Initially there was just one bird that would fly for just 5-10 seconds and then drop down ie just changing position rather than hunting. But then at about 1.30pm it all kicked off and there were six birds in the air at once and with I suspect a further two birds present.
Therefore the next couple of hours were quite busy, with most of the time spent trying to watch four birds at once to see which one was coming closer. A number of times I missed a very close bird because I was concentrating on another, but that's life. I did manage to get some shots, but I will be back another day when the wind and sun are a bit more favourable.