Saturday, 4 October 2008

Eagle Owl's in Bristol

Does anyone love the gentle giant from the Owl World

This morning I did a Radio interview on BBC Radio Bristol, which confirmed the presences of an Eagle Owl in Bristol. Actually this Owl has not been around for a few weeks as reported, but in fact it has been around for at least 9 months or maybe longer. Many people have seen it, indeed few have tried to capture it, and failed. I have been receiving reports of this Owl which operates across Clifton and Leigh Woods, whilst at the same time I'm also receiving reports of another Eagle Owl in Downend, and additional sightings near Iron Acton in North Bristol. I would surmise from this that there are possibly two Eagle Owls operating within Bristol at present, and indeed that they are of captive origin. I say this as both Owls seem to be roosting close to people, yet both evade capture. Most people who keep this species in captivity would no doubt agree with me, that this description fits nicely with an Owl bred in an aviary, yet parent reared, and thankfully not hand reared. As I said on the interview I'm very fearful about this, as it will mask what might be going on in the north and the east of the UK. I really believe that there may be indeed some natural colonisation of the northern European race of Eagle Owl, Latin name Bubo bubo bubo currently taking place. Yet escapees or deliberate releases really don't help this species PR at all.

I have a personal view on the subject of Eagle Owls in the UK, and I must stress that this view is in no way a representative view of any Conservation group I work for or am Trustee or Patron.

My view is that all Eagle Owls currently breeding in the UK of the race Bubo bubo b, should be treated as a EU protected species. Individual Eagle Owls of any other race of Bubo and of therefore captive in origin, should indeed be re captured, and not allowed to establish in an environment they are not or had never been part of. I really do look forward to the day when Eagle Owls can be found on Mendip, Quantock hills or indeed the Somerset levels here in Somerset, I feel sure that this day will come. These are the habitats that will be suit them, rather than the city of Bristol. The question as to whether the Bristol Owls will be able feed? I think this is already answered, in that they are now self supporting so are finding food without obvious problem. They are most likely doing well on Brown Rats, however with them roosting so close to humans finding their pellets would be quite easy. As Alar Broberg the Swedish Eagle Owl expert said when he described this bird to me, "as a big and lazy", what he means is that the Eagle Owl takes what is numerous and does not want to look for trouble for itself by chasing rare species. In Yorkshire the televised pair on BBC 2 were feeding on Rabbits, whilst in other areas Rats are mentioned again, this is by no means is a complete picture of its diet or potential diet, but does reinforce that its just a predator, doing what predators do.
Seems to me in UK conservation groups at the moment there are those that love them, and those that hate them. Most of the love comes from the awe factor of this bird, and most of the hate comes from misinformation or lack of understanding about predators. These are my views.

As I said on Radio Bristol I'm pleased to take any Eagle Owl sightings the public have, my e mail is on this blog.

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