Every now and then there is a birding experience that really is special and this evening was just that. John Costello joined me for a stakeout at a site where I saw the beast the previous week and we arrived a 16.40. Within minutes we heard a male bird displaying from an area of woodland, very possibly a second male bird too! The bird closest continued to call for some minutes as we strained to hear whether there was in fact a second, more distant male. A small flock of Hooded Crows flew then over and immediately drew our attention as they began to call in agitation and sive bomb a large oak tree, they had located the displaying bird and mobbed it until it beat a retreat. A short while late the calls resumed distantly before we saw the bird fly into an oak thee where it gave stunning views as it displayed, whilst I forgot the correct sttings on my camera! It was very impressive in flight, a very large bird indeed. As we watched, the views through the scope were superb, the light still good and we had this incredible bird in front of us at 200metres for half and hour, an unforgetable experience. The bird called at roughly eight second intervals, throwing it's head forwards and puffing out his throat, showing a gleaming white gorget in the process. It remained there displaying for almost 25 minutes before it flew over us and on to another perch where it call briefly before flying off into the night. We decided not to follow, content with the views given..
The birds, should they be breeding will have eggs by now, or very soon, incubating will take the female 30-35 days. The male will feed her at the nest thoughout this period. The nest will be in an old crows nest, on a rocky outcrop or even on the ground. The chicks, when they hatch will be looked after by the female and fed by the male at the nest. The young grow quickly and will be able to feed themselves at 21 days. At about 35 days they become mobile and make their first flights at around 52 days. During this time thy are fiercely protected by the adult birds and it is rather dangerous to approach either the nest or the young after they have left it. The young will stay in the area and are cared for by the adults for about 24 weeks after which time they are driven away and have to seek their own territory, becoming mature at 2-3 years of age. Eurasion Eagle Owls life expectancy in the wild is over 20 years, captive birds have lived for up to 60! These birds pair for life, like many other long lived species. Hopefully these birds will breed at this site successfully in the coming months, a female has been heard calling at the site in the past weeks. In addition there is certainly a second male at the the site, an overlapping territory or perhaps one of the pairs previous young now having taken up residence nearby?
Record video footage here;