Winter wonderland

It’s – 14 degrees centigrade and the snow lies deep on the ground, blanketing the surrounding North Lincolnshire countryside.

Despite the freezing temperatures it’s a bright sunny day. There’s not a cloud in the sky. It’s a scene that could be taken straight from a traditional Christmas card. A real winter wonderland. I’m up here for the weekend in the company of my good friends Mark Hancox and Danny Green. Sat only a few metres away, peering at us with a baleful expression is a Short Eared Owl. It’s glaring eyes, framed by smudged black patches; and heavily streaked, pale yellow brown, ochre white plumage highlighted by reflected light from the snow make for a stunning bird.

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It’s also a supreme predator, hunting voraciously on long, slender inked tipped wings over the expansive landscape.

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During the time we were there, we must have seen eight or nine different owls in total. The area must have a very good vole population to support so many owls. We watched many successful hunts, the owls catching their prey with unerring accuracy.

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More often than not they chose to take their unfortunate quarry and stash it rather than devouring it there and then.

With so many owls in a concentrated area conflict was inevitable. Sometimes they would clash with each other locking talons mid air, too far away to photograph unfortunately. On another occasion we watched one particular owl seeing off one of the resident Barn Owls that had made the mistake of encroaching on its territory with a characteristic wing clap. Just awesome to watch.

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I’ve packed a lot in this year (maybe a bit too much), but photographing Short Eared Owls is right up there with the best wildlife watching experiences I’ve had. To observe such a wonderful subject in such Christmas card perfect conditions was wonderful.

Snow chains were the watchwords of the weekend. Without Mark’s snow chains none of us would have even got close to the site. The weather was extreme and the snow so deep and ice treacherous that the roads were virtually impassable. It has to be said, Mark was the real hero of the weekend. And not for the first time I’m indebted to him.

We had the site to ourselves on the Saturday and saw very few people up there for the remainder of the weekend, making it all the more special. On the last day Mark Green joined us and I know was as thrilled as we all were by the experience. Thank you all for your camaraderie and good humour gentlemen

I hope you’ve enjoyed this festive blog.  Pressie and I are going to be spending Christmas with my family before resuming this project in the new year.

I would like to take the opportunity to wish you a very Happy Christmas and look forward to sharing with you more wildlife encounters in the New Year.

This entry was posted in Owls, Wild Britain - Winter. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Winter wonderland

  1. Très belle gallerie,la dernière photo est génial.

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