I've been in Norfolk recently but I was on The Wirral yesterday Bryan, spent half an hour scanning Burton Marsh from Denhall Lane. Four Shorties in total. They seem to have moved from when I was last there, when they were concentrated more around The Harp pub. There was just a single bird down there, the others were directly out from the lane. It occurred to me last night whether it might be worthwhile contacting the Dee Wildfowlers as they have access to large areas on the marsh: www.deewildfowlers.co.uk/
I'll follow up the wildfowlers link when I know I'm going to spend a day or more up there. My experience of some of the "guns" on Sheppey has been very good, I often get very good Shortie information from them in the Autumn and winter. The Gun Club near where I did a lot of field work last winter sometimes dragged me in for a hot drink when they turned up in the morning, (Clay Shooting as well as Wildfowl), taking pity on a frozen Yeti sitting in his car!
4 Shorties came into NE Sheppey yesterday morning off the North Sea. Was having walking problems due to arthritis and didn't get down until the evening, looking for any that may have still been resting. But no luck there, although I think it was a Shortie I glimpsed gliding around after dark a couple of miles West of where the 4 made landfall.
Other stuff coming in too at present, had a brief view of what I think was a Juvenile male Hen Harrier tonight on Elmley NNR. Guessed because it looked like the ones that the experts working with them on Langholm point out to me when I'm up there.
Adding to the above. Poyser Barn Owls has done well! Some specific Short-eared Owl information from references to what I am guessing is the book "Birds of the Night" by Hosking & Newberry, 1945. Which I have just ordered from Amazon for a few pounds plus postage. The wonders of the Internet. I hope! LOL.
Minimal mention in Google Scholar and from it's general title it is no wonder I hadn't picked it up from my frequent searches there for Short-eared Owl papers etc.
Just hoping I have guessed right, won't know until arrives.
The Hosking/Newberry book is superb.
For Short-eared Owls it largely covers a time when they had a hide very close to a nest with young on it. That is the time I am short of observations because of my unwillingness to risk forcing a female to desert by trying to set up a nest cam.
I will think again about that suggestion of a nest cam at a very early stage made to me, and do a bit more research on it. But I'd be pretty devastated if doing that lost a nest full of young Shorties.
Not that I'm critical of such as the great Eric Hosking. Times were different back then and methods were different too, which has been of benefit to very many since.
I got a totally warm feeling when I read your thoughts on nest cams Bryan for once we are reading off the same page so to speak, to this very day no one will ever convince me that birds or the bird in question does not realise that something is not quite right they are more intelligent than we sometimes give them credit for, anyway just like anything else they are entitled to their privacy do you not think. I know the general consensus is they are not aware but even so it does not sit happily on my conscience anymore, modern thinking on my part one likes to think.
I am also pleased to hear your book is coming along fine too, do you remember three years ago or was it four when I said these types of books are not possible to write in a day so to speak and requires a lot of determination on the part of the author while meanwhile life tends to continue to present us with interesting challenges.
And although yours from what I ascertained will be vastly different than mine in places I would not mind betting like me you have had and are having your share of annoying problems in some shape or form shall we say too, I know you know of what I speak so there is no need to elaborate any further on my part!
Of course there will not be any prose in my book mainly because it is not my style of writing but do wildlife books really have to contain at least “half the volume” padded out with prose describing what shade of colour the grass is or - I was greeted with a leaden sky flowing down through the valley of discontent for instance or some such pretentious nonsense. Or even worse still confronted by words and phrases that have been clearly written by an Oxford or Cambridge academic that only another academic can understand, so what does one have to do, only spend half a day looking up its meaning! I suppose I have never been a great fan of flowery expression, but I suppose one has to say oh but it is marvelous darling just in case you are called a philistine!
Have you also noticed how many of these books and cds are always endorsed by journalists, naturalists, or some so called expert as well, clearly another case of you slap my back and I will slap yours, kudos or financial seekers mostly and yet another example of cronyism, do you not just love them! But I know what you are thinking dear reader but that it is how it works, not in Alan’s world it is not.
Everybody’s talking to their pockets everybody wants a box of chocolates and a long-stem rose everybody knows.
Deep but never a truer word spoken
Alan still in the greenwood or the music room reviewing the situation, not a great fan of prose, modern jazz, singing in the form of athletic vocalizations or useless information either, just to make myself clear dear reader!
A nest cam was put up over a Shortie nest I had been too, but only just before the last young wandered, so it yielded very little. The young OK as those two on the nest were ringed and one nearby. And I watched them over the coming weeks as they started flying and then became independent. All at night as they do. Even then I was asked to watch the nest carefully to make sure the female returned after the cam had been put up. And she did quite soon.
I will continue my detailed research of what has already been seen and reported of the first 10-12 days and see what I can glean from that to avoid any further thoughts of a nest cam at an early stage.
Three more reported in from the East at Shellness this morning. I was at Oare Marshes later and had noted a possible Shortie heading West towards Elmley. Other side of the Swale so a long way off and low. I couldn't think what else it could have been. Now upgraded to a probable but cannot go any firmer than that in my field notes!
That's 7 at least seen arriving on Sheppey this week so far. Hope some will stay.
From the East, hmm, I wonder where they came from. They do come direct over the North Sea but there is no reason why some can't come from Scandinavia via Holland etc. Especially if they had stopped on a North Sea Survey vessel, or indeed any vessel that was sailing South while they were on it. Or originated from the Friesian Islands: a location where I have tried to establish a bird ringing contact but without success.
Last Edit: Oct 14, 2015 18:43:18 GMT by kentyeti: Yetis can't spell!
It was due to be the peak of the Finland/Scandinavian vole etc cycle this year. I haven't yet had details of how breeding went up there this year, but all the signs are so far, from those arriving in the UK, that it may have been a good year.
According to the weather maps the wind is NE directly all the way from Norway and Finland today. Many will come over in sub optimal winds but maybe there are some on the edge who will feel it a good day to cross the North Sea. 4 years ago to the day the weather was similar and Tichwell recorded 50 or so Shorties arriving. That was the last peak of the vole etc cycle over in Scandinavia. And I am sure we all remember the superb winter we had with Shorties over here in 2011/2012!
Be wonderful if there any sat tagged ones out there. Be great to see how long they take to make the crossing. It's 350miles or more if they come direct. But they are very strong flyers, having evolved to be one of the most flight efficient Owls there are. No surprise as they spend a lot of time hunting on the wing, I've got some astonishing observations to go in my book as to how they use absolute minimal effort to stay aloft for long periods of time. I shall not be subscribing to the "they fly like moths" school of thought that seems to be a commonly used description of them. Not my experience!
Even more interesting re the time to get over the North Sea, would be to see how many stop for a rest and a snack on the way over! But I'm not sure the sat tagging project is off the ground yet. BTO are very much involved and if I wasn't facing such enormous costs with my book on Shorties I'd be helping them get the funds to get going with that.
Struggling to keep up with searching for reports today, they seem to be coming in thick and fast!
Was going to go out to Sheppey where 2 have been seen coming in off the sea at Leysdown today. But I am very tired and needed a day off. And the weather has not been conducive to sea watching down here in Kent today. Dull, gloomy, low cloud and rain at times.
One that really intrigues me is that reported at Portmahomack Highland.
Has that come across the 350 miles from Norway? Or is it one that headed South from Iceland, around 750 miles away and mainly over sea. With the chance of a rest on the Faroes if it flies over them. They certainly come down from Iceland, but I guess Norway is more likely purely based on numbers. Would love to know though.
.... Three more reported in from the East at Shellness this morning. I was at Oare Marshes later and had noted a possible Shortie heading West towards Elmley. Other side of the Swale so a long way off and low. I couldn't think what else it could have been. Now upgraded to a probable but cannot go any firmer than that in my field notes..............
Now down as a definite sighting after a fellow KOS member who was on sea watch at Shellness kindly gave me the times etc of the 3 that came in on Wednesday.
Shows how hard it can be to pick them up as they come in off the sea. Along with a good friend and neighbour we were watching Shellness from the Sea Wall Hide and then the East and West hides for the same times the Owls came in yesterday. At high tide of a Spring tide so they would have been in view if they passed along the Swale low down as at least one did. And I only just picked that one up in very clear weather. Pleased I didn't go out and try sea watching in the bad weather of today. Would have been next to impossible to pick any up except for those flying in very close.
Plenty more today plus another LEO. Amazing to see so many coming in off the sea.
As forecast by my Finnish contact a couple of years ago! Subject to the vole/lemming peak this year actually happening which I assume it must have done. I won't know that for sure for some time yet.
Amazing how it has happened at exactly the same time as in 2011, day perfect.
After quite a good week on Sheppey I saw none come in from the sea during my very long day sea watching today. I did find one at Shellness that is possibly an earlier arrival that hasn't dispersed further West as I feel a lot are doing from their various arrival points on the East Coast.
Keeping my fingers crossed it's going to be a very good winter here for them. Although my current priority is following just one on a Northern moor that, if he is the one I am fairly sure he is, has already given me my longest elapsed time for watching an individual Shortie. Which extends every time I go up there and find him still around!
But I will also try and fit in visits on the way up and back to other locations in the UK. With Wales and Central England still very much on my list.