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Post Info TOPIC: Ryehope, Co. Durham

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RE: Ryehope, Co. Durham

Scops Owl 2/10/2017

    A Scops Owl had been found at Ryhope, near Sunderland, Co Durham last week. It became a little difficult to twitch as it seemed to be one day there and one day not. Obviously with it being nocturnal, fairly small and well camouflaged it would been hard to see. As I checked the bird news early last Tuesday morning, I saw that the bird was showing quite well, there could be a trip to see it?

  Kevin C & Bob K both showed a lot of interest so, off we went with Bob at the wheel. The two and a quarter hour journey with a few checks about the Scops Owl soon passed. We parked up in Ryhope and walked under a road/railway tunnel and out towards a valley that led down to the sea, a really nice spot. A crowd of around 40 birders greeted us with the news that the bird was showing pretty well, a quick look in a waiting telescope soon confirmed the sighting. The bird was watched for about an hour and a few snaps with my camera were taken. It was hunched up close to a branch of a tree so, it was difficult. A new bird for one of our number and what a cracking find by a patch worker from this area. With nothing else unusual in the area we headed for home, nice mini twitch.

David Ousey


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My morning shave was interrupted by an 8.30 call from John Rayner advising of a mega alert regarding a Scops Owl discovered at Ryhope, some 4 miles south of Sunderland. We were soon en route (I driving, and Doug Smith navigating, as this was "terra incognita" for me despite the site being only 2/3 miles south of where last October's Siberian Accentor was discovered).

The last few miles saw us heading north on the A1018 looking out for the Albion Pub, where we parked and followed a trickle of happy birders strolling the other way towards us. Barely 200 yards on, we arrived on a rough uphill track where some 30 birders were scoping the bird, some 35 yards off track, perched in a prominent shady elder bush.

Thankfully there was a steep 3ft high bank in front of the birders which served to prevent any closer approach to the bird by anyone otherwise inclined to encroach too closely; the downside was that setting up an angled scope and trying to peer through it was impossible due to the close rather high screen of vegetation. However patience was rewarded finally when a good viewing slot became vacant. 

The bird was perched ideally to absorb the finer points; - fine pencil streaking, with the breast streaking decorated with even finer delicate cross barring and the lower scapulars showing as a prominent line of 6 or so whitish blobby feathers, these virtually diagnostic. The head was "full on" facing with a hint of "ear" feathers and the eyes showing as slits, (not fully shut)- the bird doubtless aware of its admiring audience.

How this bird was found must have been a minor miracle. It stands as a county "first" and was only my own second ever for the species.

- In summary - a gem of a bird; - will it be there tomorrow? Who can say? But best wishes to any Manky birders who may be inclined to have a go.

A big thanks to John for that call; - I finished my shave at lunchtime!!


Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 27th of September 2017 06:28:20 PM


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