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Ear-ear! Rare Norfolk sightings of long-eared owl caught on camera

PUBLISHED: 14:08 27 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:16 27 July 2017

The long-eared owl photographed in the Ludham Marshes area. Picture: Brian Shreeve

The long-eared owl photographed in the Ludham Marshes area. Picture: Brian Shreeve

Archant

An amateur wildlife photographer from Norfolk made the sighting of his life - not once but twice - when he photographed a long-eared owl on consecutive days this week.

The long-eared owl photographed in the Ludham Marshes area. Picture: Brian ShreeveThe long-eared owl photographed in the Ludham Marshes area. Picture: Brian Shreeve

Brian Shreeve, 71, and his wife Ann, 72, of Hemblington, made the rare sighting of the winged predator in the Ludham Marshes area on Monday and Tuesday. He said: “I have never seen one of them before in my 50 odd years of loving wildlife.”

Mr Shreeve, a keen wildlife photographer, said he and Mrs Shreeve usually went out in the early morning and evenings during the week when it was quieter.

“Ann acts as my spotter. When I’m looking through the viewfinder she looks around to see what I’m missing.”

He said they had first spotted the owl on Monday evening. “It was just getting to the point where the light was fading and becoming too weak to take photographs. As we were about to leave, I heard alarm cries from several different birds.”

The long-eared owl photographed in the Ludham Marshes area. Picture: Brian ShreeveThe long-eared owl photographed in the Ludham Marshes area. Picture: Brian Shreeve

Thinking it might be a fox or some other predator, he walked towards the area scanning the ground but could not see anything.

“As I turned to go I saw the owl on a fence post about 20ft away.”

After spending about 10 minutes watching and taking photographs, they left the bird.

“On Tuesday I went back in the early evening and saw it again, only this time in a different place,” said Mr Shreeve. “It was just an incredible sighting. I had heard of one previously being seen on the cliffs at Trimingham but had never seen one myself.”

The long-eared owl photographed in the Ludham Marshes area. Picture: Brian ShreeveThe long-eared owl photographed in the Ludham Marshes area. Picture: Brian Shreeve

A third visit to the area on Wednesday did not prove as lucky.

“It was gone, but I must have taken about 300 pictures of it in total on the first two days. This was the best sighting I’ve ever had of any wild creature as I know how rare it is.”

According to information from the RSPB the long-eared owl breeds thinly across the UK. It is a medium-sized owl, smaller in size than a woodpigeon.

A nocturnal and secretive bird, it is unlikely to be seen other than on migration. They feed on rodents and small birds in winter.

Brian Shreeve. Picture: Courtesy Brian ShreeveBrian Shreeve. Picture: Courtesy Brian Shreeve

It often looks long and thin, with head feathers (known as ear tufts even though they are not ears) which it raises when alarmed.

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