NEWS 2007


Darren Naish on the British eagle owl "problem"

Not really news, and it's in a blog dated 14/2/06, but this is the best discussion by far I've seen of the pros and cons of the European Eagle Owl presence in the UK. Here it is: Eagle Owls take over Britain.


31 December -- Regents Park owls

In his summary of highlights for 2007 Tony Duckett mentions that the tawny pair in the Park raised one owlet this year. The fledgling was first spotted on 17 April. Nobody had realised they were even nesting. But the real news was that the Little Owl pair raised three young, "the first record ever in central London". There's an excellent pic of the tawny youngster on the summary page -- here it's in adult plumage and so at least three months old. Also pics of two of the Little Owl youngsters.


2 December -- Ollie (the Tawny Owl) makes a nuisance of himself

At last a fairly well authenticated report of the behaviour of an ex-captive or escapee owl in the Telegraph and Argus dateline 27 November. Ollie's been recaptured and is now housed at the Barn Owl Centre, Glocs. Note: the webcam mentioned in the piece isn't running yet. To check if it is go to Barn Owl Centre and click on webcams.


26 November -- What your face looks like after you've been attacked by a Powerful Owl

You have to be in Australia to mess with this owl, but here's a dramatic pic in a blog.


6 October -- Oldest ever recorded wild Tawny Owl mum

Twenty years old! Here's the report in today's Daily Telegraph. Or read the Forestry Commission's original news release here. At that age she could be a grandmother with about 17 "greats". What were you doing in 1987, when she was ringed as a chick?! See NEWS 2008 page (Boudica) for an update.


3 October -- Plans to expand Lydd Airport

I've been a bit late spotting this: The Guardian 2 May 2007. The article burbles on about threats to lichen and to birds in the nearby RSPB Dungeness reserve, but with the figures mentioned -- from the current 5,000 passengers per year to 500,000 and eventually 2 million it sounds like a major threat to the countryside for miles around. Lydd is in a wonderfully quiet corner of south Kent (on the southeast side of the Romney Marsh to be precise), and it's pretty obvious that, on top of the immediate noise from the jets, such a large airport would generate a large increase in traffic in the area. Half a million passengers is about 3,000 person journeys per day (to make a flight each person has to get to the airport and then leave it on returning); 2 million passengers is 11,000 person journeys to and from the airport every day. Apart from the relatively few who would gain employment, anyone who knows this tranquil, unspoilt corner of Kent will feel their heart sink. For more on how badly rural Kent has already suffered from development see the CPRE intrusion maps discussed on this website. I'll get up to date on the story when I can. The airport is a little over 15 miles (25 km) from our area.

Links: Lydd Airport website. Opposed to expansion: Lydd Airport Action Group; Keep the Marsh Special Alliance; the RSPB, which maintains a bird reserve nearby; this RSPB page gives details of who is handling the planning application (currently Shepway District Council; here is Shepway's Lydd Airport consultation page; basically planning applications for a terminal and runway extensions have been considered over the summer and a decision is due this autumn) and the appeal procedure if Shepway decide in favour; Stop the Lydd Airport Development petition (


26 September -- Set-aside set aside

According to this news item from Bird Guides, the EU has scrapped set-aside. In fact the current situation is that it has been suspended for 2008 in response to wheat shortages, but it's possible that it may eventually be abolished permanently. Along with the noise intrusion maps just published by the CPRE for England (see the "habitat fragmentation" item on this website) it makes one wonder how any wildlife is going to survive the growing pressures on undisturbed habitat in the long term. Search on "set-aside" in Google News.


6 September -- Alex is dead

'"You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you," [Irene Pepperberg] reportedly told Alex when she said goodnight to him on that final evening. "You'll be in tomorrow," replied Alex.' From The Guardian 13 Sept 2007. According to Live Science the exchange went: ' . . the bird said: "You be good. I love you." She responded, "I love you, too." The bird said, "You'll be in tomorrow," and she responded, "Yes, I'll be in tomorrow."' Links: The Alex Foundation. Farewell piece by abc News (YouTube). CNN news item with Pepperberg (YouTube). I first saw Alex on telly some time around 1980. After he'd answered all the straight questions correctly Pepperberg held up a green object and asked if it was yellow (I don't remember the exact colours). Alex gave the matter his usual careful consideration before replying "bugger off". How can you forget a bird like that.


25 August -- World Owl Conference 2007

The next conference is being held in Groningen, The Netherlands, from 31 October to 4 November 2007. As the previous conference was held in 2000 this should be quite an event. For details see conference website. 28 Sept: Abstracts of the 84 oral presentations are now up -- click on "Call for Papers".


23 August -- Two new nature sites from Croatia

Mladen and Vesna, whose wonderful picture of a Tawny Owl appears in the Owl Gallery, have been working hard all August on launching two websites about the fauna and flora that surround them in the Medvednica nature park near Zagreb in Croatia. In fact it's been their dream to do this for at least a year, and Vesna has been accumulating a fine collection of nature photos for longer than that. The result is two sites which even in their early days on the web are informative and a pleasure to view. Their joint site is Biodiversity of the Vugrovec area, and Mladen's rather unique site is Snakes of Croatia. Text in both is in English and Croatian. (Vesna's owl pics are on page 4 of the Owl Gallery. Here is the Medvednica Nature Park english home page)


14 August -- Scops Owl in Britain??

According to this post in the Barn Owl Conservation Network forum, the European Scops Owl (Otus scops) is breeding in Britain. This is in a thread on the EEO in Britain. No confirmation of this found from other internet sources. Only bird currently reported in Britain is at Thrupp, Oxfordshire -- see this Bird Forum thread. Plus there was a huge argument last year over whether the same bird was an escapee. See pages 14 and 15 of this thread. Several photographs of the Thrupp owl here on Surfbirds (towards bottom of page).


28 May . . . and a breeding pair of EEOs in Lancs! Report by BBC. Unfortunately they're reported as "attacking" walkers and dogs, and a location is given, so one wonders how long this couple will survive. There's a movie on the BBC page, which I've not been able to view because I won't allow Real Player on my computer. 22 July: Now a long (13-page) thread on Bird Forum about the Lancashire owls. I love this pic of a notice posted by Lancs Countryside Service.


24 May 2007 -- European Eagle Owl seen near Daventry, Northants

After the sad demise of the Yorkshire pair and their offspring it's nice to hear that there's now another Eagle Owl at large in the UK. See this thread on Wild About Britain. Very likely an escapee, and no mate spotted, but it's feeding itself. The sighting details are convincing. The number of these birds in the country remains unknown -- unfortunately neither the RSPB or the BTO are able (or willing) to offer an estimate. Get cracking chaps and justify your subscriptions!

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