Short-eared owl hunting at dusk in Worlaby Carrs, Lincolnshire, England
© Ben Hall/Minden Picture
Winter birdwatching. Short-eared owl
This short-eared owl is silently swooping over the open English countryside as it searches for its next meal. Named for the tiny and inconspicuous tufts on top of its head, the golden-eyed bird is often affectionately called ‘shortie.’ Here in England, short-eared owls are seen more frequently in winter, when their numbers are boosted by an influx of continental birds migrating from Scandinavia, Russia, and Iceland.
Unlike most owls, the short-eared owl often prefers to be out and about during the daytime, which is good news for British birdwatchers this weekend. Over the next few days, around one million people across the U.K. are expected to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, one of the world’s largest wildlife surveys. Beginners and birding experts alike grab their binoculars and spend one hour counting birds they see landing in their garden or local green space. The records provide a vital snapshot of the U.K.’s bird populations each winter.