30 November 2012

Short-eared Owls at the moor

An excellent dawn to dusk session at the patch today. Temperatures dipped below freezing last night leading to a heavy frost and all the pools on the moor covered in a thin layer of ice, and the mainly sunny and calm conditions (with barely perceptible westerlies) made for a cold day. The highlight was 3 Short-eared Owl showing well hunting around the eastern side of the moor from mid afternoon until dusk. Unfortunately they kept their distance and often landed for long periods, maybe because of the frequent mobbing by Carrion Crows. It's looking likely that they might be wintering on the moor this year.

The owls were persistently harassed by Carrion Crows and even the odd
Black-headed Gull had a go

When they weren't being mobbed by Carrion Crows they'd harass each other

Short-eared Owl with the M25 and Wraysbury Reservoir in the distance

The cold weather produced a little movement overhead throughout the day: 2 Brent Geese E, 24 Lapwing N, 1 Little Egret W, 40 Fieldfare S, 2 Redwing S, 1 Skylark S, small groups of Cormorant W, and 1 Common Snipe E and a Peregrine N at dusk. 1 Red Kite, presumably a wandering bird from the Chilterns, flew low east, dropping down to the ground briefly to grab a food item.

2 Dark-bellied Brents over east at 13:07 - probably the same 2 birds seen by
Dave Harris at QE2 Reservoir an hour later - see Dave's excellent photo here

Red Kite

Several flocks of Cormorant went high over west, possibly displaced by
frozen water bodies

On the ground: 3-4 Common Snipe, 4 (2m, 2f) Stonechat, another 36 Fieldfare, 5 Song Thrush, lots of Blackbirds and Robins, 15+ Pied Wagtails (a good site count) and 46 Meadow Pipit feeding on the icy pools, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Reed Bunting, 7 Greenfinch, 17 Goldfinch, another Skylark, 2-3 Little Egret, 30 Starling, 1-2 Grey Heron amd 4 Little Grebe on the Colne. 3 Stock Dove over, 1-2 Kestrel and a Red Fox were also noted.

Much of Staines Moor is flooded after the large quantity of rain we've been having, but all pools were iced over today. Hopefully these pools will attract some waders in the spring.

The first day this winter with largely frozen water bodies

The flood at the south end

These pools are usually dry, even in winter.

Stanwell Moor added 2 Little Owl (in the willows along the Colne Valley Way footpath to Staines Moor), an additional 40 Lapwing, 1 Redpoll sp. over, 3+ Reed Bunting, 12+ Blackbird, 2 Song Thrush, 5+ Fieldfare, 15 Stock Dove, 30 Goldfinch and 3 Skylark.

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