Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Great Grey Owl again

Today was time to see if the Great Grey Owl was still present and to give Rune his second tick in the space of two days after he had got to grips with one of the Iceland Gulls yesterday.
On the drive down we had the possibility of four drive-by Great Grey Shrikes but only managed a single this time. Coming to Hvaler I spotted a hunting falcon and stopping the car as safely as we could we got the scopes out and found a raptor swimming in the water at quite some distance on top of prey and making its way slowly to an island. The bird must have swum (flapping frenetically) over 10 metres with its prey before hauling up on land. The raptor turned out to be a young female Peregrine (was hoping for a Gyr) and the prey item appeared to be a gull which judging from size was most likely to have been a Little Gull (in itself a pretty good record!). It was quite a feat for the young bird to swim such a distance with a prey item half its size in its talons!
Arriving at the owl site we noticed what looked like recent tree felling along the route of some telegraph wires and feared that this could have disturbed the owl. We searched the relatively small area very diligently for an hour and a quarter without any success and assumed that it had moved on (it has not been reported for 10 days although it only appears that a couple of people have searched for it in the meantime). Deciding to move onto pastures new we got in the car and had driven 200metres past where we had been searching and what was that sitting less than 20metres from the road?
The view that greeted us after we had given up and were driving away!
We had driven past on the way in without seeing the bird so either we were not observant enough or maybe we had unknowingly disturbed it during our search and it had flown to this position. Anyway it showed amazingly well seemingly unaffected by or presence and continuing to search the ground for prey. I took many photos and permit myself to show some of the best here:
Great Grey Owl

I don't need to move my body to look behind me - can you do that?
coming into land

Happy Oslo Birder


  1. Jennifer here, from the U.S. east coast. While driving, I spotted a Great Grey Owl roadside one night in the winter of 2000. I assume it was a female from her sheer size - she was about 3/4 of a meter from head to end of tail. What a sight! We circled back and got to within 6 meters - then she turned to look at us, taking my breath away. When she flew off with enormous wingspan, I saw a squirrel dangling from her talons. It was truly one of the greatest wildlife visions I've experienced. I only have my memories, though, and thank you for sharing your photography.

  2. Hi Jennifer, aren't they amazing birds! I can't wait to see one again soon as my memories need a top up!