Kestrel, photo by Peter Dent 1/3
Little owl, photo by Nick Appleton 2/3
Tawny Owl, photo by Julian Thomas 3/3

Be ‘eagle’ eyed this winter

Friday 08 December, 2017

Winter is often a very good time of year to spot birds of prey. As the trees have lost their leaves the silhouettes of birds, as they perch in search of prey, can often be quite obvious. This winter Norfolk Wildlife Trust is asking local people to help them record three birds - kestrels, little owls and tawny owls – by adding their sightings to the online spotter map.

You don’t have to be an expert to make a valuable contribution to local knowledge of Norfolk’s wildlife. Recording wildlife is an easy way to get involved in wildlife conservation. It helps NWT to understand an animal’s distribution across the county, and identify any areas particularly important or lacking in these species.

Kestrels are the birds you see hovering over the verges at the side of the road looking for prey. When they are not actively hunting they find a high look out point to rest and wait. Nationally kestrels are an amber listed species, but in Norfolk kestrels are the most common bird of prey and their numbers are stable.

if you spot a small grumpy looking owl with yellow eyes sitting on a post or tree you will be seeing a little owl. It is the smallest of the owls and the one you are most likely to see during the day. The little owl’s conservation status has not been assessed in England, where most of these owls are found, although RSPB estimates that there has been a 24% decrease in the population.

At dusk look out for tawny owls perched on a tree branch close to the trunk as it surveys its territory for food. Nationally the tawny owl has an amber conservation status because of the decline of their breeding population, but in Norfolk the tawny owl remains the most common breeding owl, and a stable breeder. Their ‘too-wit – too-woo’ hoots are very distinctive and as they are the only owl species in Norfolk that hoots please do sent in your record even if you have only heard, but not seen, your tawny owl.

Head of People and Wildlife at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, David North said: “Now is a great time of year to be looking for these three distinctive birds.  Listen out for tawny owls hooting; watch out for the hovering flight of a kestrel on the hunt, and investigate (from a distance) mature trees for a watchful little owl. Your wildlife sightings can help us identify areas which are especially important for wildlife in your local area. Every wildlife record counts and will be of value.”

To share your sighting, NWT will need to know what species you saw, where you saw it – try and be as specific as possible, when you saw it, and who you are.

Sightings can be submitted easily online and view what has been seen already

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