There are not many days that I do not take my camera out with me whilst walking the dogs and I am constantly on the look out for wildlife. One particular walk I do has given me the opportunity to photograph Short-eared Owls.
Short-eared owls are medium-sized owls with mottled brown bodies and have pale under-wings and stunning yellow eyes. They are commonly seen hunting during the day. In winter, there is an influx of continental birds (from Scandinavia, Russia, Iceland) to northern, eastern, and parts of central southern England, especially around the coast. They are an Amber List species.
Unlike many other owls, short-eared owls can frequently be seen hunting in broad daylight as well as in the early evening. They are skilled predators with keen vision even in low light and hearing accurate enough to pinpoint a small mammal in the undergrowth.
Short-eared Owls hunt mainly at night and during the morning and late afternoon. They fly over open areas, a few feet above ground, and pounce when prey is found. In thick vegetation they will hover over prey, often for extended periods when facing into the wind, before pouncing. They occasionally hunt from a perch or while standing on the ground. Short-eared Owls eat mainly small mammals, but sometimes take birds. Meadow voles are the primary prey and these can be seen caught in the images below. Deer mice, shrews, ground squirrels, pocket gophers, pocket mice, moles, rats, bats, rabbits, and muskrats are also taken.
The images below were all taken in December, January or February I have not seen the birds in other months. The images were taken either early morning or just before sunrise. Sadly I have not seen any of these Owls this winter. This may be due to the wet weather we have been having in the UK. They are amazing birds to watch and I feel honoured to have been able to capture them in the wild.