Short-eared Owl – 2003-07 breeding

Asio flammeus – TYLLUAN GLUSTIOG – Breeding resident and winter visitor

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed12
Breeding probable21
Breeding possible1
No of tetrads occupied3 (of 478)4 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads0.6%0.8%

Short-eared Owls are very much birds of open rough grassland and heath, nesting on the ground usually under the shelter of heather, bracken or tall grasses. They will also breed in young forestry plantations. Areas with high populations of small mammal prey and a lack of disturbance, including disturbance from ground predators are key to their success.

Given these requirements, it is perhaps not really surprising that Short-eared Owls are a scarce breeding bird in Pembrokeshire and within Wales. Such “optimal” breeding habitat occurs mainly on the offshore islands.

Skomer is a long-established and regionally important breeding site for them, supporting up to five pairs between 1984 and 88, about 20% of the entire Welsh population at that time. In 1993 an unprecedented 12 pairs nested on the island. They also used to breed regularly on the commons of the St David’s peninsula where there are good stands of rough grassland and wet heath. The population appears to be fairly stable, compared with the 1984-88 period, though it fluctuates, probably depending on the density of vole populations.

During the 2003-07 atlas period between one and four pairs bred on Skomer and a single pair nested on Ramsey in 2005 for the first time since 1971. Breeding may also have occurred on Dowrog, where one was recorded carrying food in late May 2004 but breeding was not proven. Further sightings included a pair appearing to hold a territory on Dowrog in May 2006, but breeding did not occur.

Pellets analysed on Skomer have shown that although Short-eared Owls largely feed on young Rabbits and Skomer Voles, they may also take significant numbers of Storm Petrels, like the Little Owls breeding there.  Fifty-five pellets examined in 2007 produced 18 Storm Petrels, whilst Storm Petrels formed 31% of prey recorded in 13 pellets in 2004.

Bob Haycock (BTO rep & Chairman of the Pembs Bird Group)

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, which may contain more detail than shown here.

More about the Short-eared Owl in Pembrokeshire

Short-eared Owl – 1994

Asio flammeus – TYLLUAN GLUSTIOG – Breeding resident and winter visitor

1984-88
Breeding confirmed1
Breeding probable2
Breeding possible
No of tetrads occupied3 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads0.6%

Mathew (1894) considered the Short-eared Owl to be common in the winter. He also noted that eggs had been taken from Skomer, where R. Drane* saw half-grown young in 1895. Lockley et al. (1949) stated that they were frequently seen over heaths and bogs in the winter, and noted breeding at Skomer and Ramsey.

Up to five pairs have continued to breed at Skomer, which can represent 20% of the Welsh population, but there was an unprecedented 12 pairs there in 1993 as this book was compiled. Breeding was reasonably frequent on the St David’s commons but may now have ceased. Elsewhere breeding has been sporadic and confined to rough ground and young plantations, like those around the Preseli Mountains which have now matured.

They have been seen arriving off the sea at Strumble Head in October and November, when they have also occurred at the Smalls and Grassholm, with up to nine recorded at Skokholm. Records at the Smalls and South Bishop in March and April may refer to birds on return passage.

A remarkable influx occurred during a cold spell in January 1982 when at least 40 were present at Ramsey. Winter birds have become scarcer during the 1980s and early 1990s, being recorded at 14 sites in 1983 but at no more than seven localities in any year since.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

*NB – Robert Drane’s observation – 1895 Half grown young found, Skomer (R.Drane)  NiW, Vol 4 No 4

More about the Short-eared Owl in Pembrokeshire

Short-eared Owl – 1980s winter

Asio flammeus – TYLLUAN GLUSTIOG – Breeding resident and winter visitor

The BTO winter atlas showed that Short-eared Owls were mostly present in coastal10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84.

The darkest colour for each 10km square represents 2-3 birds seen in a day.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

Data collected by volunteers for the BTO. Lack, P. 1986 Atlas of wintering birds in Britain and Ireland. T & A.D. Poyser.

More about the Short-eared Owl in Pembrokeshire

Short-eared Owl – 1894

Asio brachyotus

A common winter visitor; also, perhaps, a resident in limited numbers.

When Snipe-shooting in the autumn and winter, we never failed to flush some Short-eared Owls out of long grass and rushes. They would fly a little distance and then settle again, sometimes alighting on a stump of furze or on a small hillock, and keeping watch upon us until we walked on. The Rev. C. M. Phelps believes that a pair or two nest on Skomer Island, and has received the eggs taken from a nest found there upon the ground.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Short-eared Owl in Pembrokeshire

Short-eared Owl

Asio flammeus – TYLLUAN GLUSTIOG – Breeding resident and winter visitor

Short-eared Owl – 2003-07 breeding

Asio flammeus – TYLLUAN GLUSTIOG – Breeding resident and winter visitor Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 1 2 Breeding probable 2 1 Breeding possible 1 No of tetrads occupied 3 (of 478) 4 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 0.6% 0.8% Short-eared Owls are very much birds of open rough grassland and heath, […]

Short-eared Owl – 1994

Asio flammeus – TYLLUAN GLUSTIOG – Breeding resident and winter visitor 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 1 Breeding probable 2 Breeding possible No of tetrads occupied 3 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 0.6% Mathew (1894) considered the Short-eared Owl to be common in the winter. He also noted that eggs had been taken from Skomer, where R. […]

Short-eared Owl – 1980s winter

Asio flammeus – TYLLUAN GLUSTIOG – Breeding resident and winter visitor The BTO winter atlas showed that Short-eared Owls were mostly present in coastal10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84. The darkest colour for each 10km square represents 2-3 birds seen in a day. More about the Short-eared Owl in Pembrokeshire

Short-eared Owl – 1949

Asio flammeus flammeus Breeds annually in a few places, including one, or two, on the islands.  In winter frequently seen over heaths and bogs. R.M.Lockley, G.C.S.Ingram, H.M.Salmon, 1949, The Birds of Pembrokeshire, The West Wales Field Society More about the Short-eared Owl in Pembrokeshire

Short-eared Owl – 1894

Asio brachyotus A common winter visitor; also, perhaps, a resident in limited numbers. When Snipe-shooting in the autumn and winter, we never failed to flush some Short-eared Owls out of long grass and rushes. They would fly a little distance and then settle again, sometimes alighting on a stump of furze or on a small hillock, and keeping watch upon […]