Thursday, January 14, 2010

Eagle Owls again!

A couple of frantic days in many respects. However, firstly a comment on the weather.

Since immediately before Christmas I'd been receiving reports of Woodcock and Common Snipe from various friends visiting Islay, and seeing many birds myself along road verges and in ditches. A couple of farmers had commented similarly and mentioned not having seen so many previously. It seems likely that lesser numbers of Jack Snipe were also amongst these too from various reports. The relative improvement in the weather has probably been a reprieve for these, and other species of wader, with the ground now being accessible in more places and the upper part of the Merse being free of ice. Whilst it's likely that all these species are with us in numbers in "normal" winters the desperate quest for food in the last three weeks brought them into ever closer proximity.

The Eagle Owl saga continues! News of the imminent publication of a paper presenting results of isotope analysis on an Eagle Owl picked up as a road casualty in Thetford Forest suggest the bird was from a clade of Continental origin. Similarly a paper published by Aebischer, giving results from young Eagle Owls bred in Switzerland and fitted with satellite tags , suggest they disperse over much greater distances than previously thought , including over Alpine passes if necessary. Both will obviously add further dimensions to the existing debate.

More worryingly was the discovery yesterday that the Risk Assessment relating to Eagle Owl , as a component species in the revised Schedule 9 becoming applicable in April, is out for public consultation, the closing date for which is the 6th February, 2010. Transparent Government such may be , but a better indication of when such documents are being held up to the light would be a major step forward!! A major concern is a comment "containment/control is an option and is likely to be most effective if carried out in the early stages of the establishment phase".

Having said that there is some recognition that there is a degree of public interest and that various aspects relating to its presence and status have not yet received proper consideration so such might just operate as a stay of execution in the short term!!

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