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Eldernell and Owls (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
It has come to my attention that some individuals have been deliberately disturbing owls at Eldernell. Some individuals were photographed climbing the barbed wire fence and chasing after short-eared owls, causing them to fly off from their roost. This is not acceptable, this will cause the owls to stop roosting there and so ruin everyone else's lives who look for them, and should not be tolerated, in any way.
Further individuals have posted photos on eg Twitter and Facebook of their birding day out, showing extremely disturbed short-eared owls shutting their eyes and raising ear tufts.
When observing a long-eared owl there (which was showing no sign of disturbance), I overheard someone bragging that they once got so close to a LEO for photos that it began making hissing noises.
This behaviour is exactly what leads to normal roost location being witheld. Yes that is harsh on others, yes I was whining about it, but when people start to chase owls, that is crossing a red line.
The Collins bird guide describes a disturbed roosting long-eared owl as:
"Adopts sleek, erect posture with eyes closed when disturbed"
Short-eared owls when disturbed extend their (small) ear tufts, and close their eyes tightly, making their face appear scrunched-up. Unfortunately, there are one too many bird photos from Eldernell I've seen with these traits. Not long-eared owls, but short-eared owls.
If this disturbance continues, the owls will not roost there anymore. And a lot of people, like me, will be deprived of the opportunity of seeing these wonderful birds at stunningly close range there. This needs to stop.
I've attached two of my own photos from Eldernell, showing what the owls look like when they are not disturbed. Whereas, the short-eared owl came to me to perch, the long-eared owl I observed for quite a bit after finding it myself, moving around to get better angles and yet staying at a distance. During that time, the owl showed no sign of disturbance.
I got good images with a cheap setup, so it is a pity that some birders with £2000+ optics feel the need to get even closer and disturb animals for slightly better views. And questionably so, because in my opinion my SEO photo is the best that was taken there this year of the species, showing how far you can go without disturbing anything. Roost photos are invariably going to be worse.


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