O is for... Owls

Gary Cox 

Owls are most easily spotted during the winter months, and are commonly seen soaring high in the sky above grasslands and hedgerows. Amazingly, there have also been recent sightings in and around Brockholes Nature Reserve.
Short Eared Owl

Donald Sutherland 

Firstly, from the wondrously diverse owl family, is the short eared owl, which has only recently been spotted at the Brockholes Nature reserve. A rather peculiar bird which is also colloquially referred to as a ‘shortie’, unusually prefers to go about its business in broad daylight. This magnificent creature is most easily observed and identified during the winter months, flying at low levels over moorland, grassland and saltmarshes, where they hunt small birds and creatures. The short eared owl nests in the north of the UK, however throughout the winter they can be seen all over England and Wales particularly around the coast.

Long Eared Owl

In direct contrast to the short eared owl, the long eared owl is a shy and nocturnal creature which most frequently resides in various types of forest and woodland, making Brockholes potentially the perfect environment. Rather wonderfully if you are lucky enough, long eared owls can be seen in large communal roosts of twenty birds or more. Additionally, these majestic creatures hunting ritual is something to behold, as the long eared owl scans the ground, flying in a zig zag pattern attempting to locate its prey. Then upon spotting its chosen target, majestically swoops down to the ground and quickly seizes its prey in breath-taking fashion. Once more, these owls can be seen right across the UK, however are best spotted around the coast or returning to winter roost.

Barn Owl

John Hawkins

Finally and perhaps the most beloved and recognisable owl of all, the barn owl is easily identifiable. With its distinctively pure white feathers they can be seen gliding over fields and hedgerows at dawn or dusk across the country. The barn owl will hunt at both day and night, hunting in the dead of night comes with ease for barn owls as they maintain perfect silence in flight, and an innate ability to locate prey by hearing high frequency sounds. The barn owl is widespread across the UK, apart from the highlands of Scotland. As their natural habitat is farmland and grasslands, it makes Brockholes and the surrounding area the perfect place to spot these noble birds.