The owl in a south-easterly came off the sea…

Working from home today, and so limited in the main to looking wistfully out of the window from time to time. Actually, not that wistfully as the weather was absolutely vile for a lot of the day – vile that is from a comfortable, desk-monkey perspective. From a birder’s viewpoint, it looks promising for the next few days. If the wind and rain ease off, there’ll be rare birds coming out of the woodwork all over Shetland. South-easterlies and rain in mid October are the dream ticket.

My window-gazing wasn’t completely fruitless, as mid-morning something large and brown went past at a hell of a clip, pursued by 2 Hooded Crows. Raptor, surely… I legged it outside and scanned the area desperately. The crows gave the game away, and there below the road was a Long-eared Owl on a drystone dyke, doing its very best to ignore the local hoodies. I had enough time to drive down and get a few photos at long-range before it noticed the plantation and dived in for cover. A shame I didn’t have longer, as I could have made an effort before it went into cover and skulked up a bit closer for some really nice pictures.

LEO! LE-E-E-O! I want a LEO and I want one now...

Strange that I wait nearly 5 and a half years to add Long-eared Owl to the houselist, and then I see 2 in the space of 6 months.

Owl doing looking

Some extremely good surprises in the post today as well – the latest British Birds (including the BBRC annual rarities report), and Birding World. Nice to see all my birds from last year duly endorsed, and a watercolour from my Hume’s Warbler submission had made its way into the rarities report too.  Birding World was particularly pleasing – 5 of my photos have been used this month – American Golden Plover and Sandhill Crane on Orkney, and Taiga Flycatcher here in Shetland. I’m delighted to see them in print – I can’t be making too bad a job of this point and shoot business!

Crying fowl

It was a day of two halves – and I only considered it anything less than perfect about an hour ago. Up until then – just peachy.

You’ll recognise the seeds of the woe when I begin by saying that I woke up this morning to find my mobile had died in the night, so naturally I plugged it in to charge… and went outside to make the most of a fine sunny day to finish planting the other 100 brassicas, various leftover tatties, and some spinach and parsnips for good measure. So far, so good life. The day got significantly better in the afternoon when the sound of Starlings having conniptions made me rush from the kale yard to see what was bothering them. I was expecting and hoping it would be the Sparrowhawk that’s been around the area for the past few days, and which I’ve seen from just about everywhere except the house. I was delighted to see instead an owl trailing a comet tail of pissed off and highly excited Starlings flying over my back field – my first Long-eared Owl for the house list.

The rest of the day was spent digging, weeding and watering. It was only when I went inside, noticed the now-charged phone, switched it on, and started to work through the texts that the day soured (but only slightly). A text from BM at midday alerting me to a Long-eared Owl in the plantation… (ha!) …and then one from him 10 minutes earlier to say there was a Canada Goose in the ditch below West House. Oh balls. Easily the rarer of the two in a local context, and I’d missed it. Needless to say, scanning immediately from the house revealed no goose, and a subsequent walk around didn’t turn it up either. Only a few Willow Warblers in the plantation, and an acro that was best left unidentified briefly by the trap, before spanging off to some rosa rugosa a field away, and then not to be found again.

Heyho. The owl was nice.