Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Autumn form continues with Ryhope Scops Owl

September proved to be fantastic months birding, deciding to stay flexible certainly paid dividends. The question would be could my luck possibly continue. 

Last Wednesday a Eurasian Scops Owl had been discovered in Ryhope, County Durham by local school teacher Tom Middleton. There was the normal stampede however I was at work and a planned visit was aborted on the Friday when it wasn't reported. I was still hopeful of it being reported again and it duly was from Saturday onwards bar Monday. The strategy would be to go on next reported morning news being fairly confident the Owl would stay in its roost position for the day.

After a day of local birding Monday, news broke Tuesday of the Owl roosting in view. With the Squire at work & Chris with his phone off, I headed up north plotting my way up the M1 / A1. Thankfully the traffic was very kind and I was parked up by 11.15am. 

A walk of less than two minutes through an underpass took me to a small rough valley on the seaward edge of Ryhope Village. There were around 50-60 birders present all enjoying great views of the Scops Owl that was roosting in an elderberry bush. 

Scops recorded sightings are rare (40 post 1950 records) and I believe the last one was in 2007 in Thrupp, Oxfordshire. It is also the first record in the north east for over 100 years. This Scops should be heading towards the sub-Saharan Africa on its migration from the Mediterranean. 

The tiny nocturnal Owl measuring just 20 cm seemed pretty comfortable in its temporary surroundings and looked to rotate which eye it used to watch the growing crowd. You can fully understand how the bird isn't seen some days due to it's heavily streaked plumage. These Owls have a very distinctive call that is best listened to on this page link

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