Long-eared Owl at RSPB Fairburn Ings

   Yesterday Friday 13 Feb 09 I travelled North to West Yorkshire to visit family with my mother.  With the chance of a ‘lifer’ at RSPB Fairburn Ings, where up to five Long-eared Owls have been reported daily, a slight detour to the journey was inevitable.  We arrived at the reserve late morning and headed straight for the Lin Dyke car park located a couple of kilometres West of the visitor centre.  From there it was just a ten-minute walk South along an icy footpath to the location of the owl’s day roost.       

A view across the small body of water at the Long-eared Owl day roost SE434271.  There is a railway embankment behind the trees and bushes - Lin Dyke, RSPB Fairburn Ings 13 Feb 09. 

   From the opposite shore of the roost we were fortunate enough to find all five Long-eared Owls showing nicely.  The birds were spread out along the thin line of trees and bushes situated between the iced over pool and railway embankment. 

One of the five Long-eared Owls – Lin Dyke, RSPB Fairburn Ings 13 Feb 09 

   We spent half an hour admiring the birds before returning to the car.  Other sightings of note in the area included two pair of Goldeneye on Newton Ings and c140 Coot on and around a small ice free patch of water on the other side of the road.  

   Our next stop was the visitor centre where we watched the activity around the feeders whilst we ate our lunch outside in the sunshine at one of the picnic tables.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to see a Willow Tit but Tree Sparrows were present throughout with six birds being the largest count at any one time.    

   After lunch we took a stroll along the ‘riverside walk’ that leads from the visitor centre to the three hides.  Unfortunately I didn’t appreciate just how far away the hides were and with time running out we only managed to visit the ‘nearest’ one.  Highlights from that hide included: Goldeneye (5 male and 2 female);   Goosander (2 male and 8 red head);   Pintail (several);   Pochard – 30+;  Great Crested Grebe - 3 and Shelduck – 2.   The other species of note that was seen on route was Siskin with three birds feeding in alder. 

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open) 

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