Sunday, February 17, 2013

Short-eared Owl

Mid-afternoon yesterday saw me mingling with the masses in New Brighton, but unlike the shoppers and general public enjoying the first sunny day for some time, I was there for one reason only; waders. Or to be more precise Purple Sandpipers. The jetty on the marine lake is a safe high tide refuge for a variety of wading birds that on Saturday included Redshank, Turnstone, a few Knot and at least fourteen Purple Sandpipers, the first I have seen this year. After a few record photographs I left the bustling cafes and shops and headed for the peace of Parkgate.
On the way I checked a few roads around Irby for Waxwings but without any luck. No sooner had I arrived in the Old baths car park at Parkgate than a ring-tail Hen Harrier drifted across the Spartina. Too distant to photograph but beautiful nevertheless. Moments later the first of two superb Short-eared Owls started quartering the marsh close to the car park; fantastic! These two birds drifted up and down the marsh for the rest of the afternoon, sometimes giving amazingly close views. At one point one of the owls drifted close and high to investigate what looked like a remote-controlled toy helicopter, but I don't know where the operator was. They would have got a shock if the owl had intercepted it!
Later a superb male Merlin perched quite close giving excellent telescope views. It was one of two seen. And the finale to an excellent afternoon's birding was a distant Barn Owl seen heading south towards the ice-cream shop!

Here the owl is investigating
the remote controlled helicopter!

Purple Sandpiper avoiding the crowd of Turnstones


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