Ural Owl is a major challenge to see anywhere and we visited northern Uppland realistically thinking to hear one would be a result, if we could glimpse one briefly in the darkness, then we would be really happy. What transpired very much superseeded our expectations...
We arrived at the site at around 17.30 and picked up a few commoner species straight away. A flock of 10 Mistle Thrush fed on the rough meadow, whilst 6 Northern Long Tailed Tits flitted through some nearby brush. Common Buzzard was in evidence, but better still was a cracking male Goshawk that Aidan picked up perched in a spruce tree. It eventually gave us a great flight view as it moved left over the trees.
After waiting for the dusk to start falling to listen for owls our attention was drawn to an area on the forest edge by the Mistle Thrushes, which were clearly aggitated by something and were kicking up a racket in the nearby trees. As nothing could initially be picked up from where we stood, we were wondering if the Goshawk was still in the area. That notion was soon dismissed when Magnus, who had joined us for the rest of the trip, wandered up the road and discovered the true cause tucked tightly against the trunk of a birch tree, low down on the forest edge, Ural Owl. We could not believe our good fortune as we watched it at about 120 metres in fading, but still daylight. This was a huge bonus for us and we really enjoyed every second. Again the bird was hunting and watched and listened carefully for prey as we looked on in awe. After ten minutes it drifted back into the woods and out of sight.
A short while later, still elated, we located 2 Pygmy Owls, one of which we managed to call in when Magnus imitated the call. The incoming bird initially almost hit him as it zoomed straight in! It gave us another virtuoso display of attitude, scolding us for five minutes at close range before dissapearing as quickly as it arrived. The calls given suggested strongly that this was a female bird rather than a male, though we could not be certain of this. As darkness fell four very, very happy birders left the area.
Further attempts to hear Ural Owl calling failed in the early part of darkness, as did a stop at a site for Eagle Owl. We headed back for food and sleep after a couple of hours, after a celebratory sip of scotch at the accomadation!