Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Ural Owl's - Carpathian Montane Forest Region.

Another species I had seen previously in Kazakhstan was Ural Owl but again this was a long time back and pre camera days so to be able to see this species again and hope to be able to photograph them was an opportunity not to be missed.

As we walked down and along the track in the photo above anticipation was high hoping that this particular Ural Owl at ths site would show well, a Black Woodpecker flew through and Wood Warblers sang close by. As we appraoched the site we walked slowly looking for the feamle, of whch she soon appeared glarring at us with eyes fixed on our every movement, of which was minimal just enough to align the camera.

The female above was a rather dark individual and even though it was great to watch and study this individual through the scope and click away the light was not great due to the angle. A Middle Spotted Woodpecker appeared from a nest hole in a nearby tree and then the Ural Owl flew through the area we were standing at and landed on a tree behind us allowing the video footage below. 

Collared Flycatchers sang close by and we then left this individual to do her thing and went off to look at the singing Wood Warblers nearby.

Ural Owl number two was a site we visited that same evening at another area some miles away from the first site, as we walked in slowly we loacted this beautiful female perched up watching us through a gap which was just big enough to get a couple of shots, as you can see this is a rather pale individual but beautiful,gentile  and soft looking. I really enjoyed watching photographing this particular bird as Collared Flycatchers appeared from nest holes close by and the sound of the river flowing in the distance. 

This was to be the last stop of the day but what a day, the first day in the Carpathian montane range. Two Ural Owl's, Displaying Lesser Spotted Eagles whilst carrying a lizard! with Honey Buzzards in the same view, singing Collared Flycatchers & Wood Warblers, Saker on the nest+more.

The following morning we headed out and Eastern Imperial Eagles glided by as we walked to a Saker site, where both adult birds were present at the nest, the female sitting with the male preening and watching over the surrounding area while perched close to the nest on a pylon. Savi's, Moustached and Great Reed Warblers blaired out from a small patch of reed bed next to us and Marsh Harriers quartered low close by.  

Then it was time to visit Ural Owl site number 3: This was another nice wood and again Collared Flycatchers continued to show well as we walked in. On arrival we realised that the female was off the nest as we could see the reflection of a chick in the mirror of the nest above, a short scan showed this, the 3rd female also sitting up watching us through a gap in the leaves, this individual appeared to be darker than Ural Owl 2 yesterday but again a rather smart looking bird.

After leaving the 3rd Ural Owl it was time for an espresso break and then on to the same raptor site again, which was a wooded valley on the mountain ridge line. Within ten minutes a Lesser Spotted Eagle lifted out, thermaled and then glided passed us disaprearing to re-appear fifteen minutes later carrying a lizard back to the nest site, a pair of Short toed Eagles theramlled from the wood, a HoneyBuzzard lifted out, an Eastern Imperial flew along the ridge line, a White tailed Eagle flew directly overhead, a Black Stork passed overhead and Common Buzzards and a single Osprey all added to the mix within the hour we spent at this site. 

tt was then time to visit Ural Owl site number 4. 

The sun had grown hot and the sky had turned blue, we walked through the wood and the nest site was empty, disapointment set in but we hoped the fledged chick would be nearby. And sure enough we could hear a call of an adult, we walked throgh and come to an opening where a single dead leafless tree held a stunnig female Ural Owl just sat there, out in the open in full view, with the sun behind us spot-lighting this individual. 

A scramble to get some shots before she took flight was not needed as she sat there un-concerned by our presence as in the photo above and below. She took flight around 15 minutes later and flew in to the edge of the wood where she seemed interested in some Blackbird activity. It was at this moment when we  turned around and were about to leave we stumbled upon the chick the second image down. 

So as i took this video footage below we sat there enjoyng the peace and quiet of the forest and I was pleased with seeing these four different Ural Owls, only another 116 nest boxes to check!

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