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Owl from description, 28 Feb (1 Viewer)

01101001

All-knowing Idiot
Opus Editor
Poland
Habitat (Warsaw, Poland): river, meadows with scattered trees and bushes, forest nearby, houses, outbuildings some way off, abandoned buildings even farther away

Time: during the final phase of sunset and shortly afterwards

Description: whitish pale facial disc; darker upperwing (the colour of subdued dry-horse-manure greenish grey), pale fringed at the front and back (perhaps pale upperwings and only the triangular area of overlap appeared darker); medium to biggish owl; slightly taller than a Kestrel when perched (I could measure the pole it sat on if need be)

Behaviour: first impression in flight: tailless Pheasant with strange big triangular wing (perhaps the result of two actual wings superimposed on each other); flight quick, low and silent; it flew over the river right in front of me and perched on a pole on the other bank, then moved to another pole as I advanced, then moved on to another pole again, and then it was gone

I got a Barn Owl impression the instant I saw the facial disc, but I have very scant experience with owls (although I'd seen a few pictures in the Gallery before). Other theoretically possible species: Tawny Owl (wrong wing pattern?), Short-eared Owl (wrong wing pattern?), Long-eared Owl (wrong face and wing pattern?, but quite possibly resident in the area). Caveat: against the sun any wing could appear paler, but the sun was very much hidden already, so I hope it didn't have so much of an effect (see: photo taken a minute or so before I saw the owl fly in front of me).
 

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Thanks, still, the view of the perched bird through the binoculars was a bit grainy already due to the dark, so for the next few days I'll try for it and see if I can find it again.

EDIT: But then it may just be it because I got that feeling in the field from the facial disc, then came home, looked in the field guide and gave a thumbs up to Barn Owl again, this time on wing colouration. That would be a nice record for me personally and for the region as well.
 
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Pale face means Barn Owl.

At night, Barn Owl in flight can be better told by pale underwing without a dark spot on the hand, and on upperwing by absence of strong barring on flight feathers like Tawny Owl or rufous patch on primaries of Asio owls. Also, long legs of a perching bird can be seen. It is generally uncommon in Warsaw area.
 
Pale face means Barn Owl.

At night, Barn Owl in flight can be better told by pale underwing without a dark spot on the hand, and on upperwing by absence of strong barring on flight feathers like Tawny Owl or rufous patch on primaries of Asio owls. Also, long legs of a perching bird can be seen. It is generally uncommon in Warsaw area.
Thanks for the confirmation and ID tips.
 
8 May at dusk; same habitat (a kilometre apart); same backstory


I first thought I flushed a female Mallard, but this bird's flight was quiet. First impression: like a neckless Mallard but slightly smaller than a Mallard, with wings the colour of a female Mallard's belly. The wings were sparsely and irregularly decorated with thin shortish blackish curves parallel to the edge of the wing and possibly (I'm not sure) a dark mark at the hand on the upperwing. First seen flying very close above the water along the other bank of the river, then it traced an arch to the right, passing in front of me and flying moderately low above the grass. I think I saw it drop to the ground by a nearby bush with its wings spread and raised and head probably looking down, showing blindingly white underwings (which was quite unexpected given the poor light). Nothing else seen, and I didn't want to torchlight it.


I think I can quite confidently exclude Tawny Owl based on the underwing colour (very light vs much darker overall), but I'm not sure if I would've seen dark hand markings of SEO or LEO on the underwings with such brief views. However, especially SEO doesn't seem to match my description, given the apparent lack of black wingtips on the underwing and even more apparent lack of a rufousy panel strongly contrasting with the much darker rest of the wing. Hopefully, LEO can be similarly ruled out on upperwing colour and pattern as well, plus I'm not sure if an Asio owl could have such strikingly white underwings.


I saw it again on the 12th, but it was backlit by the setting sun, so I wasn't able to see much. Fittingly, it mocked me with a conspicuous fly-by, and, then, dropped into the grass, never to be seen again. The tips of secondaries below the coverts were rather jam-packed, not splayed--from what I remember--and the wings were rather roundish (but I may be misremembering that). However, none of these features is helpful for ID, I'm afraid. Two subsequent watches turned up no results; it might be that--after I walked in on the owl twice--it has temporarily shifted its hunting grounds (I never stepped off the path or pursued it). Posting for confirmation or thoughts, the other reason being it's no fun waiting for it now that I've seen it (twice) already.

EDIT: I guess it's my list, so the choice is up to me, really, but this doesn't appear as conclusive as I'd want it to, so...
 
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