It just so happened that last week I suggested a Short-eared Owl would turn up on the Holmethorpe patch – a first on the deck since who knows when (before my time anyway).
Two days later and there it was, on Sunday morning at 10.20am to be exact.
Local patch workers Gordon Hay and Ian Kehl flushed a Shortie while walking around the Water Colour Lagoon complex in an area known as Little Mound.
Little Mound is a recent man-made creation that sits between the bigger, older man-made hillock known as Water Colour Mound and Water Colour Lagoon 2. Little Mound now has a decent covering of grass, young trees and scrub along its edge.
It was out of the longish grass in the area adjacent to WC Mound where the owl flew up and circled before flying high to the south. I only wish I had been there to see it.
There was the possibility this bird would return to the area to roost and another local birder, Ray Baker, thought he may of seen the SEO mobbed by crows on Monday morning in the same spot – but it was too dark to tell for certain.
With this in mind I made my first sortie into the wilds since the beginning of October this morning, in the vain hope of perhaps seeing the Short-eared Owl before the dog walkers were out before sunrise.
Unfortunately, the dog walkers were already prowling the area, but seeing as the owl hadn't been flushed until late morning on Sunday, there was always the possibility – if it was still about – that it was still in the long grass.
But no. In the drizzle and half-light, nothing distinctly owl-like flew up into the grey sky. Never mind, it was still good to be out in the fresh air looking for birds.
The first bird of note was a Stonechat perched on scrub on the edge of Little Mound. Stonechats are not a common bird for Holmethorpe, but during the last 12 months or so they have become more of a presence, with at least three in the area in recent weeks. There is the potential for a pair to breed next spring – they would be a welcome addition to the Holmethorpe patch.
What is also remarkable is that this new area has become a favoured spot for this Stonechat, despite it being next to a a housing complex, a railway line, a popular footpath and industrial estate.
Over on Water Colour Lagoon 1 a Little Egret was still roosting in the trees. There were plenty of gulls on the water and in the meadow on the edge of the lagoon, including Black-headed, Common, Lesser and Great Black-Backed Gulls. A couple of Fieldfare and ten Redwing flew up from the trees.
A walk around the Moors produced plenty of Teal, a sole Wigeon and a few Goldcrest. The circuit took me back to the Lagoons, where a Kingfisher flew low over the water.