Thursday, 21 January 2016

Close Encounters of the Owl Kind

Nick Carter,  Wetland Project Officer

I paid my first visit of the year to the Wissey Wetland on Wednesday and had an immediate surprise. As I drove down the entrance track a short-eared owl flew across in front of the vehicle. I stopped and thought I might get a decent flight image but the bird then very co-operatively landed the other side of the ditch running alongside the track. It allowed me to get very close and take some of the attached images. The bird obviously spied something flying over at one point, which I didn’t see. 

Short-eared owls have been recorded occasionally on the Methwold and Hilgay sites before but this gave the best views.  After visiting the very wet Hilgay site and checking all was ok I saw a barn owl which I wasn’t able to photograph. However the short-eared owl was still hunting around the access track quite near the entrance so I stopped to watch it. I then realised that there were two short-eared owls hunting. So a nice welcome to the site for 2016 and another surprise on leaving it.


  1. Is there general access available to the reserve? Thanks Robin

    1. Hi Robin, there’s currently no access to the site as Methwold is still under construction. However where the short-eared owls were hunting can be viewed from the earth lay-by on the B1160 about a mile south of the Wissington Sugar Factory. Better views can be had of the Hilgay site as a public bridleway runs from Hilgay Village along Sandy Lane, past Wood Hall, it then turns north towards the River Wissey. Good views over the site can be had walking east along the bank from the Pump House, which is being renovated, towards the sugar factory.