Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

Short-eared Owls

Short-eared Owls-aerial ballet

I’ve not been well lately. Several weeks ago, I received an insect bite that would not heal. It developed into a nasty bacterial rash that covered most of my body and didn’t respond well to the course of antibiotics prescribed by my GP. I think I’m on the mend and hopefully, will be comfortable in time for Christmas.

The short-eared Owls first appeared at Tophill Low several weeks ago. Alerted by Richard Hampshire, the warden at THL, I made a quick trip to photograph these magnificent birds. Their brown mottled plumage acts as very good camouflage as they hunt low over the dead scrub and trees. Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult for my camera’s autofocus sensors to ‘lock-on’ to the Owls flight and I had a good proportion of failures. However, in amongst the dross, I did manage to get several shots that were sharp and with the Owl unobscured by the trees and grasses.

Here’s a few examples…

Short-eared Owl_1

Short-eared Owl-hunting

Short-eared Owl-through the trees

Elsewhere, the local foxes appear to be doing well and I believe that at least one of the local vixens is pregnant — with cubs due in early March. Hopefully, they will use the same den as last year and maybe I’ll get the opportunity to photograph the offspring?

Fox and geese

Red-Fox promenade


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6 thoughts on “Short-eared Owls

  1. Hi Tony

    Many thanks for sharing your great shots. Do hope you make a full and speedy recovery in time for Christmas. Hope to travel up from West Wales in the New Year. Hope the SEO will still be around .

    Happy Christmas and New Year.

    Kind regards


    • Thanks for your kind thoughts, Roy. I guess I’m just unlucky when it comes to insect bites! I hope the SEO’s are around when you visit. Drop me a line before you travel for the latest information. Happy Christmas!

  2. Sorry to hear you’ve been unwell – get well very soon. Great shots as always.

  3. The first shot is stunning !
    Wow !

  4. Lovely shots and commentary Tony. I am Jersey-based but will up on the mainland at the end of November. I am visiting a friend in Leeds and would love to coicide this with a sighting of a SEO as they are extremely rare migrants to Jersey. Do you have any advice on where to look in Tophill Low as I am not familiar with the site/area.

    Cheers, Kris

    • Hi Kris

      Thanks for your kind comments. It’s always great to hear from a fellow wildlife photographer.

      Perhaps your best bet is to keep any eye on the Bird Watchers forums for North Lincolnshire – just south of the Humber bridge is a place called Worlaby Carrs that appears to be the most popular location to photograph the S E Owls.

      We were lucky to have a couple of pairs at the north end of Tophill Low, last year. But nobody can guarantee that they will reappear once again this year.

      Best time is early morning and late afternoon from mid-November to mid-January.


      Tony McLean

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