|Tawny Owl at Castle Ward|
This morning I took the early ferry to Portaferry to go and see whether the Montagu's Harrier found by Keith Bennett was still at Lough Cowey. I parked the car and hopped over the gate and there it was off to my right. If only twitching was always that easy. The bird stayed for about a minute before flying out of sight. It wasn't until two hours later that it reappeared and then only for a few minutes.
|Montagu's Harrier at Lough Cowey|
While I was there I had a text from David Thompson who is the National Trust's Property manager for Strangford Lough and South Down saying that he wanted a second opinion as he felt he had heard a Tawny Owl calling near the sunken garden and that other people had been wondering for the past few weeks what it was. I texted him back saying that I thought it would probably be Long-eared Owl from my past experiences with them on the Castle Ward Estate having lived on the estate for 12 years.
Any way this evening I took Pickle for a walk and dropped off Penny to do a run round the estate and meet me back at the sunken garden, while I looked for the bird. I heard it almost immediately I got there and tried to find the exact tree it was calling from. I was helped by three blackbirds, a Mistle Thrush and a song thrush all who were mobbing the bird deep in some bushes. I still couldn't see it when all of a sudden I looked at my level rather than in the tree tops and bingo there it was one beautiful Tawny Owl. My only hope is that it isn't an escape. I couldn't see any rings or jesses. I rang the World of Owls and they were not aware of any escapes.
I went out to Killard Nature Reserve with the dog this afternoon and it was sunny but blowing a gale. There were a few Goldcrests in the gorse bushes along with a new Hooded Crows nest. Skylarks were singing and quite a few Swallows were on the top level. On the main beach 6 Ringed Plover and a few Redshank. At sea there was a lot of toeing and froing of Shags and Cormorants and a few Gannets.
A couple of days ago I bumped into birder Tim Murphy out at Killard Nature Reserve and he had asked me whether I had seen any otters recently. I told him that it had been probably a couple of years since I had seen one out there.
Well blow me I had nearly finished my walk when I saw quite far out what I thought might be a duck until it's long tail went up into the air.
It then made its way to the shore quite quickly before getting out onto a rock. Then a wave came in right over it.
|Otter being engulfed by wave|
Whereupon it swam over to an adjacent rock got out and had a shake.
Then it had a good scratch.
Before rolling over and over in a cleft in the rocks.
Then after about 20 mins and with my memory card almost full it got back into the water and headed towards the lighthouse in the middle of the Strangford Narrows.