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Saturday, 30 January 2010

Long Eared Owl and Peregrine!!

Today I had decided to take a trip to Marton Mere just outside Blackpool to hopefully find and get some pictures of the Long Eared Owls that roost there, and in the afternoon I planned to call in at Newton Marsh on the way home to see the big flocks of Wigeon that spend the winter there. Success on both counts, and at Newton Marsh I was very lucky to watch a Peregrine seriously hunting over the Marsh. But firstly the morning mission to find the Long eared Owls, I had been given a precise location where to find the owls, and having arrived at the spot soon found two roosting in the bushes. I had been told there had been up to four roosting but I could only find the two, one being almost hidden by the foliage and branches but the other was a bit higher and I could get some nearly unobscured pictures, nearly!

Initially it was side on from where I could get a clearish shot.

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But almost right on que he turned around for me!!

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Stunning birds, and another first for me ticked off, to say I was chuffed is an understatement, in an ideal world a clear unobstructed shot would have been nice, but hey I was well chuffed.

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Below is a video clip of the owl, but a little jumpy as it was taken hand held

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As I mentioned Marton Mere is very close to the centre of Blackpool, but wandering around the Mere below it could have been anywhere, although the view back from the eastern end quickly reminds you were you are.

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The only snag is at times you are a fair way back from the Mere and getting shots of the birds on the water isn't always easy but the 500mm lens certainly helps. There was lots of activity on the Mere, with Mute Swans, Teal, Canada Geese, Mallard, Coots, Tufted Duck, to name a few, also lots of Greylags coming in to land on the Mere,

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As i walked down to the western end of the Mere there was a Kestrel quartering the longer grass for prey, and as it settled I tried to get closer for a shot without spooking it, took this one before getting closer, whilst making my way through the scrub I flushed out what I think was a Woodcock, may have been a Snipe but this looked a little different, but as I got really close to the Kestrel was just about to fire the shutter on a frame filling shot and it was off, hey ho!!

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At the Western end of the Mere is a hide in front of a feeding area, that was alive with all sorts, all the tits, Greenfinch, chaffinch, Reed Buntings, Pheasant, Robins, Great Spotted Woodpecker, the light wasnt great but got some good shots of the long tailed tits

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Then it was off home ward, calling in at Newton Marsh. The Marsh was full of Wigeon, on the water and also feeding on the grass on the marsh. I think after the Eider, Wigeon are my favourite duck, I just love their call.

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I had a scan around the Marsh to see if there were any predators about and about half a mile away on one of the electricity pylons found a perched Peregrine Falcon, which I really hoped would be down soon to hunt, I wasnt disappointed.

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Not long after leaving his perch the Wigeon sensed his imminent attack and were up, a few first but then all were up and away

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Homed in on his target it was all out attack, the rest of the pictures are not as clear as hand holding the big zoom lens and following the speed of the Peregrine was not easy.

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Sensing the chance of pinching a free lunch the Peregrine had attracted the attention of a marauding Great Black Backed Gull who harrassed him for the rest of the hunt

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This unsuccessful attack over he rested on the marsh, closely watched by the Gull, the very brave Teal soon re-congregated on the water in front of it, obviously using the addage that if they can see him they are safer.

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After a short break he was up again, but the Gull would not leave him alone and he soon abandoned the hunt.

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Also on the Marsh were Shelducks, and a group of four seemed intent on killing each other, I have witnessed many species of birds fighting, but never so aggressive as Shelducks.

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This poor Shelduck got a double aerial attack!

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A superb day, loved seeing the Long eared owls at Marton, and watching the Peregrine was enthralling, and whist sorting the pictures out at night couldnt resist nipping out for some shots of a lovely full moon.

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Thanks for dropping by, any comments you may have are greatly appreciated.
Gary