Owls

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Barn owl is becoming a little more common in Essex after years of decline and is best looked for in the late evening just before dusk when it can be seen hunting over rough grassland. It nests in old barns, sheds or a hole in a tree.

Short-eared owl is mainly a winter visitor to Essex from Scandinavia. Numbers fluctuate each year depending upon the vole population. In Essex they are best seen in coastal grazing fields or marshes and in winter will hunt by day and night. They have a stiff-winged almost bat-like flight.

Long-eared owl is a shy night-flying bird with bright orange-red eyes and long ear tufts. They spend the day sat upright in thick vegetation, often against a tree trunk, but occasionally when it is sunny will sit in a more open position making themselves look very upright, long and thin to blend with the trees.

Tawny owl is a round brown plump nocturnal owl of parks, large gardens and woodland, more often heard than seen, especially the female's 'Kee Vaak' call. Sometimes can be seen in its daytime roost if other small birds find it as they will 'mob' it with collective alarm calls.

Little Owl is best looked for on old rotten trees or fence post on which it has a habit of sitting during the day looking for worms and beetles. When disturbed it will bob its head from side to side.


Photo © David Harrison