The Holy Grail of Autumn / Winter birdwatching in the Pennines is the finding of migrant Long Eared Owls. I spend many hours searching the hawthorns in remote Pennine valleys in the hope of finding just one magical Owl. Last winter I found none but this winter there has been an influx from across the North sea and some weeks ago I struck lucky. Not one but three Long Eared Owls roosting close together in a secluded, sheltered valley.
For five weeks I have been visiting the valley dressed in the same clothes and never flushing the Owls to carefully take photos as they roosted in different positions, depending on wind directions. On one occasion there were four birds present and then last weekend we had the first winter snowfall and they had all gone!!
What an absolute joy and privilege it was to observe our elusive Owls without them ever being disturbed. Perhaps they will come back later in the winter?
Finding four Long Eared Owls last month was good but it pales into insignificance compared to the big influx of 1975. In December of that year two local roosts had more than a dozen birds and even such places as Tandle Hill Country park had up to six birds present. One of the most regular places for Long Eared Owls in recent years has been around Elton Reservoir in Bury. My Owls must have gone somewhere so good hunting!!