Monday, 24 February 2014

Utina u beauty

While trawling the internet before Christmas I came across a picture showing 45 of 100+ Long-eared Owls roosting in one tree in a town in Serbia and so fascinated that further research led me to put this phenomena on to my bucket list considering the most I had previously seen in one day was five.

Modern farming methods have not engulfed this part of the world yet leading to good numbers of rodents in winter so providing plenty of food for owls, numbers over 500 in one roost is not uncommon while at the same time the townsfolk have introduced laws prohibiting disturbance to the owls or roost sites.
Anyway armed with motivation and a Serbian bus and train timetable I found myself in the square at Kikinda in the north-east of the country not far from the Rumanian border looking at a tree load of LEO’s – ending up with an unimaginable total of 487 Long-eared Owls from 4 roosts I came across thanks to local information gained from some very proud towns people. Numbers had been higher earlier in the winter. Absolutely mesmerizing staring up to theses feathered thrillers and spent some time sketching which attracted the interest of passers-by and soon had a small crowd gathered around me including the local bobby.

The journey to Belgrade produced two road side Great-grey Shrike’s perched on telegraph wires and a brief ring-tail Hen Harrier amongst the few birds seen through misted windows while I was still awake and chance to wander some of the parks adjacent the River Danube overlooking Veliko Ratno Ostrvo Island produced Pgymy Cormorant, a very distant White-tailed Eagle, Hooded Crow and Syrian Woodpecker.

Utina is Long-eared Owl in Serbian.

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