Bird watchers flock to Winterton for guaranteed views of stunning owls

Short-eared owls have been a big draw in Winterton in January 2022

Short-eared owls have been putting on a display for birdwatchers and photographers in Winterton. Picture: (c) copyright citizenside.com/Liz Coates - Credit: citizenside.com/Liz Coates

The prospect of seeing up to five short-eared owls hunting, and capturing the perfect shot, has lured a bank of birdwatchers to Winterton.

Massing on the western side of the wildlife-rich dunes up to 30 enthusiasts trained their long lenses on open grassland where up to five birds were said to be swooping around on Sunday.

Birdwatchers in Winterton their lenses trained on short-eared owls

Long-lenses and tripods were the perfect accessories in Winterton when birdwatchers descended hoping to witness short-eared owls hunting. - Credit: Liz Coates

Chris Batty, of Rare Bird Alert, said being able to see them in such an accessible spot and being virtually guaranteed a good view would be enough to lure bird fans from miles around.

He said the birds were often seen in daylight and were a spectacular sight cruising over grassland.

Short eared owls at Winterton

Birdwatchers have been flocking to Winterton where up to five short-eared owls have been spotted hunting in daylight. - Credit: Liz Coates

The amber list species heads to the UK from Scandinavia, Russia, and Iceland during the winter and is capable of flying long distances. They rarely breed in Norfolk.

Nick Moran of the Thetford based British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) said they liked rough, open ground and marshes.

They were extremely popular with photographers having a typical owlish face and bright orange eyes, as well as a camera-friendly colouring.

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Data from 2007  suggested there were only 20-40 birds in an average winter in Norfolk and that figure was likely declining.

Picture of a short-eared owl

Picture of a short-eared owl. Up to five have been seen in Winterton. - Credit: citizenside.com

Short-eared owls at Winterton

Birdwatchers and photographers have been enjoying the hunting antics of short-eared owls visiting from the continent, likely Scandinavia. - Credit: Liz Coates