eagle owl

I live in rural Somerset. Twice in the last three days I have seen a very large bird, bigger than a buzzard which we have regularly. Yesterday as I was driving slowly towards Wells it flew fairly low, about 12 - 20 metres high, straight along the road and over my car. I was able to get a good view of its head, definitely that of an owl, not a buzzard, and its wingspan was about 4 - 5 feet wide. I am told that they are used in Weston-super-Mare to discourage seagulls. Please could anyone confirm or refute my identification? Thank you.

  • Hi Judith

    I can't say whether what you saw was an eagle owl or not but it does sound like an amazing experience.

    There have been sightings of eagle owls from time to time across the country and reports of successful breeding mainly in the north of England. I understand that it is thought that the small population that exists is as a result of escaped birds. There is a lot of controversy as to whether the eagle owl ever existed naturally in this country.

    After doing a few "googles" I found a couple of links which may be of interest. The first is a Guardian article about an eagle owl in Bristol in 2008. It doesn' t say what happened to it.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2008/oct/10/wildlife-conservation

    The second is a link to the BirdGuides site which reports various sightings in recent years

    http://www.birdguides.com/species/species.asp?sp=073064#recentsightings

    and the third is a rather amusing post from Somerset Ornithological Society forum about an eagle owl in Bridgewater which subsequently turned out to be plastic.

    http://pub13.bravenet.com/forum/static/show.php?usernum=1065729998&frmid=14&msgid=868568&cmd=show

    I wondered whether this might be the source of your information about them being used to scare gulls in Weston-super-Mare?

    I've only ever seen them in Europe and then only sitting but I can attest that they are BIG birds.

    Pity you couldn't have got a photo - any chance do you think?

    I hope by my replying to this post it will bring it to the attention of others more knowledgeable than me on the subject.

    TJ

    ____________________________________________________________________

    Regards,Tony

    My Flickr Photostream 

  • Having seen the Bristol eagle owl when it was sitting in a tree in Woodland Road, Bristol.  it is an impressive sight.  Sounds like a good description of it.  It used to fly round the University campus at night and scare the c--p out of the security. 

  • In reply to cds:

     

    Eagle owls???  Large??

    If you see one in a field you could mistake it for a haystack :)

     

    S

    For advice about Birding, Identification,field guides,  binoculars, scopes, tripods,  etc - put 'Birding Tips'   into the search box

  • In reply to TeeJay:

    TeeJay said:

    Hi Judith

    I can't say whether what you saw was an eagle owl or not but it does sound like an amazing experience.

    There have been sightings of eagle owls from time to time across the country and reports of successful breeding mainly in the north of England. I understand that it is thought that the small population that exists is as a result of escaped birds. There is a lot of controversy as to whether the eagle owl ever existed naturally in this country.

    After doing a few "googles" I found a couple of links which may be of interest. The first is a Guardian article about an eagle owl in Bristol in 2008. It doesn' t say what happened to it.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2008/oct/10/wildlife-conservation

    The second is a link to the BirdGuides site which reports various sightings in recent years

    http://www.birdguides.com/species/species.asp?sp=073064#recentsightings

    and the third is a rather amusing post from Somerset Ornithological Society forum about an eagle owl in Bridgewater which subsequently turned out to be plastic.

    http://pub13.bravenet.com/forum/static/show.php?usernum=1065729998&frmid=14&msgid=868568&cmd=show

    I wondered whether this might be the source of your information about them being used to scare gulls in Weston-super-Mare?

    I've only ever seen them in Europe and then only sitting but I can attest that they are BIG birds.

    Pity you couldn't have got a photo - any chance do you think?

    I hope by my replying to this post it will bring it to the attention of others more knowledgeable than me on the subject.

    TJ

     I'm sorry but I think a photo is not an option. But thank you for this information. I think the Bristol sighting is of interest, only 29 miles from here. Perhaps someone knows their usual range? Thanks, jmt

  • Unfortunately that owl died, it was found outside the engineering building.  Forgt that it had died last year. When I was last in Bristol I had heard that it was one that moved down from Yorkshire.  They can range widelyand I think there was one sighted in Wales.

  • In reply to cds:

    it is a possibility,but without seeing it perched or a photo,just speculation

  • In reply to m_cooper:

    according to 'Lee Evans' aka, 'do you know who I am', there are up to 44 pairs breeding in the wild in Britain.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    In reply to Susan:

    Hi Susan

    Interesting to hear that the Eagle Owls are breeding wild in the UK

    I remember seeing one in the Edinburgh Zoo in a lecture many years ago and it was a very large specimen.  I also understand that they are not the friendliest of birds either and are known not to be too friendly.

    Statistics state that:  Eagle Owls can grow to 30cm (2 feet tall) with a huge wing span.  There are several sub- species of Eagle Owls that exist too.

    Regards

    Kathy and Dave

    Susan said:

    according to 'Lee Evans' aka, 'do you know who I am', there are up to 44 pairs breeding in the wild in Britain.

     

  • Hi Judith, welcome to the forum.

    It is somewhat difficult to confirm if what you saw was an Eagle Owl, I can suggest contacting the local bird recorder for that area and they may disclose other sightings.

    Unfortunately the world that we live in, certain people see a number of species of birds as pests, vermin etc.

    Certain species of Birds of Prey have been persecuted to near extinction and sightings and recordings are not normally openly discussed, to protect the bird.

    We had a pair of Eagle Owls that bred in the Yorkshire Dales for about nine years the nesting location was a closely gaurded secret, but both adults were often seen hunting. The female was found dead in 2006 with large gauge shot pellets, albeit a post mortem couldn't prove that the gun shot wounds were the cause of death, but may well have had an adverse affect on the birds ability to hunt and feed herself.

    We also had a male Eagle Owl who terrorised commuters at Middlesbrough's train station in 2007.

    It was blamed for the decline in cats and small dogs within the town?

    The link below is from the local Tees news team.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/tees/content/articles/2007/01/10/terror_owl_feature.shtml

    If you have good identification skills, then I will leave it with you to decide if it was an Eagle Owl!

    Regards Buzzard

     

    Nature Is Amazing - Let Us Keep It That Way

  • Mark Avery has an interesting Blog today on the Eagle Owl and the bad press it and RSPB are having.