Short-Eared Owl, Aust

Second Severn Crossing from Aust

After a week of inactivity, the car got a spin today. The dead certs of Bewick’s swan and white-fronted goose at Slimbridge got the destination vote. At thirty straightforward miles the place is a no-brainer anyway. It was packed, which is good. Although at eight quid a throw I’m amazed non-members can afford it. Clearly, this whole recession thing is a chimera.

The two target species obliged, none of the three reported bitterns reciprocated and a pair of dodgy mandarin ducks just outside the fence couldn’t persuade me they were feral enough for my year list. Distant, but obvious, flying golden plovers compensated to bring it up to 116. Dang, that’s heady stuff.

On my way back I tried Oldbury for a green-winged teal but the site is more complex to work than just dropping in, so I somehow backroaded my way down to Aust Warth. I knew I’d got to the right place there when a couple of chaps with scopes was the first sight to greet me. They both had the most gorgeous short-eared owl in view. I’ve never had such a stunning look at this bird. In fact, it’s been seven years since my last record, at San Luis Refuge, California. I can’t tell you what a knockout today’s experience was.

Go try it for yourself.

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