Short-eared Owls at Burwell Fen

Short-eared Owl with prey, Burwell
Short-eared Owl with prey, NT Burwell Fen, 10th November 2019

We went looking for Short-eared Owls again at Burwell Fen having heard from a friend that there were “twitchers” huddled together spotting them earlier in the week. We have been to the Fen a few times this year, but not seen the owls since February. However, I learn from local birding expert Hedley Wright that one of last winter’s “flock” (we had more than six there last Winter) had spent its summer on the Fen too presumably having decided not to return to Scandinavia for the breeding season for some reason.

Two Short-eared Owls, NT Burwell Fen, 10 Nov 19
Two Short-eared Owls, NT Burwell Fen, Sunday, 10th November 2019

Anyway, we saw a Kingfisher dart back and forth along the almost dry ditch in the middle of the Fen and then Mrs Sciencebase was first to spot one in the distance close to the electric power installation on the edge of Burwell. And, then a second. There were several bird photographers around, but I wouldn’t describe any of them as “twitchers” and maybe not even “birders” as such, there is a distinction (see my birding glossary).

Same two SEOs

There have been sightings of more than one SEO since the end of October 2019, and yesterday (10th November), it seemed that there were perhaps three or maybe four. We never saw two at a time, but were aware of two in the air while another was out of sight in the scrub a few hundred metres in front of us.

Short-eared Owl,, NT Burwell Fen, Sunday, 10th November 2019
Possibly a third or fourth SEO at Burwell

Two of the owls were forced aloft by Rooks at different times. Rooks really don’t like raptors and owls in their territory and will harangue, harry, and harass them endlessly to get them to move on. One of the SEOs has a very apparent feather injury to one wing.