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13 February, 2019

Owls put on dramatic show at North East beauty spot

Owls put on dramatic show at North East beauty spot: Short-eared owl about to dive on prey - copyright Ron Macdonald

Dramatic scenes of short-eared owls swooping on prey at North East beauty spot this winter have been captured by former Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) manager, Ron Macdonald, at Forvie National Nature Reserve.

The reserve is managed by SNH. A group of five to seven owls have taken up residence at Forvie since October.

“Short-eared owls are a dream to photograph,” said Ron. “Because they fly in daylight, often slowly and perch on posts, they make fantastic portraits. They can be tricky to photograph when flying against the background of heath and dunes but with some basic field craft and photo skills, you will soon get the hang of it. They also become more comfortable with people over the winter, becoming familiar with the visitors hoping to capture their good looks and interesting behaviour.”

SEO - Copyright Ron Macdonadl

SEO displaying threat behaviour to a nearby owl - copyright Ron Macdonald

seo 01 quartering the coastal grassland - copyright Ron Macdonald

SEO pouncing on a small rodent - Copyright Ron Macdonald

Ron has been following the Forvie owls for the last four months. And he’s not alone: many wildlife photographers have been attracted by the photogenic owls. Although owls are nocturnal, some owls – like short-eared owls – are more active during the day than most other owl species.

Ron is enthusiastic about these charismatic birds: “The short-eared owl is a beautiful bird, with golden yellow irises and black pupils set against black mascara-like feathers, making their eyes stand out. The effect is a piercing stare that literally stops you in your tracks.

“Understandably for a bird that hunts primarily by locating its prey by sound, I come across them much more frequently when winds are lighter and it’s dry. Presumably, it’s both the sound of the wind and rain and the rustling of the vegetation that’s the reason. Anything beyond 15mph or a light rain and it’s likely there will be a no show.”

SEO at sunset on the Forvie National Nature Reserve - Copyright Ron Macdonald

For more information, see a blog written by Ron Macdonald on short-eared owls.

About the photographer: For 27 years Ron Macdonald worked for SNH and its predecessor body, the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland, before retiring in 2015. For 10 years, he served as SNH’s Head of Policy & Advice. He now chairs the Advisory Group of the North East Biological Records Centre (NESBReC) and serves on the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Committee. He’s presently working on a film documentary ‘The Return of the Giants’ which tells the story of the slow return of the humpback whale to Scotland’s seas, showcasing, and calling for greater conservation effort for, the diversity of marine life around our shores,

ENDS

MEDIA QUERIES
For more information, contact SNH media relations & PR officer, Vicki Mowat, on 0131 316 2659 or vicki.mowat@nature.scot or the main SNH press office on snhmedia@nature.scot or 0131 316 2655.

Photos are for one-time use only, copyright/credited to Ron Macdonald.

Contact information

Name
SNH Media
Email
SNHMEDIA@nature.scot

Notes to editors

Forvie is one of about 45 NNRs in Scotland. NNRs are special places that look after some of the best of Scotland’s nature on behalf of everyone who lives or visits Scotland, and they provide unique opportunities to visit, enjoy and learn more about Scotland’s nature.

Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at www.nature.scot . SNH media is also now on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nature_scot

Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help people understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at www.nature.scot or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nature_scot

Tha Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba na buidheann comhairleachaidh dhan riaghaltas a thaobh nàdair agus seallaidhean-tìre air feadh Alba. 'S e an dleastanas a th' againn cuideachadh a thoirt do dhaoine gus tuigse, luach agus tlachd fhaighinn bho nàdar na h-Alba, an-dràsta agus san àm ri teachd. Airson tuilleadh fiosrachaidh, tadhail air www.nature.scot/gaelic  no lean sinn air Twitter aig https://twitter.com/nature_scot

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Short-eared owl about to dive on prey - copyright Ron Macdonald

Short-eared owl about to dive on prey - copyright Ron Macdonald

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SEO - Copyright Ron Macdonadl

SEO - Copyright Ron Macdonadl

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SEO displaying threat behaviour to a nearby owl - copyright Ron Macdonald

SEO displaying threat behaviour to a nearby owl - copyright Ron Macdonald

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seo 01 quartering the coastal grassland - copyright Ron Macdonald

seo 01 quartering the coastal grassland - copyright Ron Macdonald

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SEO pouncing on a small rodent - Copyright Ron Macdonald

SEO pouncing on a small rodent - Copyright Ron Macdonald

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SEO at sunset on the Forvie National Nature Reserve - Copyright Ron Macdonald

SEO at sunset on the Forvie National Nature Reserve - Copyright Ron Macdonald

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