23 December : secret location between Puerto Lumbreras and Lorca

Fascinated? Read on to Dave's report and enjoy the best of the photos that he sent. These communal winter roosts are quite common and I have seen Short-eared Owl roosts of up to 20 birds, rather dispersed over several, usually dense, trees but obviously drawn together. They can be very difficult to detect and usually by accident when one flushes off, as well as being susceptible to disturbance, hence the secrecy.

Although I've been birdwatching on and off for 45 years or so I've never seen a Long-eared Owl (buho chico). It was one of my "bogey" birds along side Alpine Accentor! Gilly had never seen one either. So we were astonished to get an e-mail some time ago from some friends of ours, Dave & Jackie, who said that Dave's sister and brother in law, Jane and John, who lived near Lorca had some owls nesting in their garden. Assuming we were about to see Little Owls (mochuelo) on their attached photographs, we were shocked to see Long-eared Owls. They said they'd contact us when the owls returned. We duly "had the call" a few days ago and today was the big day.
It was quite complicated to get to their house, so John guided us in from Lorca. The house is situated in the middle of agricultural flat lands. There are mature pine and false peppers trees in the garden. Whilst John put the kettle on, Jane said she'd show us firstly one owl that usually roosted on its own. I assume it would be the dominant male, but I may be wrong. Sure enough, through the branches of this pine tree, there was our first view of a Long-eared Owl. She took us to another pine tree where we could see another two owls. We moved round onto the adjacent field to see if we could get better views for taking photographs. Yes, we did get better views of not only those two but  another three as was well, making a grand total of six individuals!
What an amazing day! Thank you so much to Dave, Jackie, Jane and John.

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