Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Flushing LONG-EARED OWLS unnecessarily

A response I had to write to Herts Birds email group, after individuals were requesting the whereabouts of roosting Long-eared Owls. It was not published, frustratingly....

The owls were easily to be seen by those that had any consideration for the birds. On sunny days, they roosted high in the ivy and could be easily scoped from above. I told 7 birders about them in early January, people I believed I could trust with the news. That was not to be, sadly. I know that Darin Stanley followed my directions to the inch and he saw them without disturbing them, and so did the odd other.

On my last two visits to the site, I have caught birders purposefully flushing them out of their favoured tree and when I have cajolled them about it, they were not fussed in the slightest. I hate this new cavalier attitude towards birding where no-one gives two hoots for the welfare of the bird.

From now on, I shall not be divulging the presence of any Long-eared Owl roosts, as birders cannot be trusted. These are very rare birds and very susceptible to disturbance. These are local birds which bred last year in the county and require all the protection they can get. There are no end of great photographs of Long-eared Owls on the net so there is no excuse for anymore.

Along with Long-eared Owl, there are a number of local breeding birds that come under this category and specific information cannot be published on how to find them - Ruddy Duck, Hobby, Honey Buzzard, Northern Goshawk and Woodlark - all are highly susceptible. Others, such as Black-necked Grebe, are apparently protected 24/7 by CCTV, so are perhaps the only exception. However, the county powers-that-be, have constantly fallen out with me because they do not want birders to know about these either, for the very reasons I outline above. After witnessing the activities at the two owl roosts, they may well be right (Lee Evans)

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