A Short-eared Owl’s Tale….. More About  ‘Wild Service’……A Warning!....

by Bernie Bell - 07:38 on 13 June 2024


A Short-eared Owl’s Tale…..

I saw this link on the Orkney Wildlife Facebook page….


At the moment many Short-eared Owls are being spotted swooping over the fields and moors of Orkney, and many pics. of them appear on the OWF page….


We used to have a regular visitor flying over our garden, and a couple of times even pouncing on prey!  Wol, as we named him, disappeared for a few years, we believe that this coincided with the vole population in our garden becoming depleted.

We used to have a lot of Orkney Voles in the meadow – then the Stoats arrived and the numbers dropped dramatically.   We hadn’t  seen Voles in the meadow for a few years.  There is now a Stoat eradication programme and it looks like it’s been effective as last year - the Voles came back!

‘Eradication’ may seem like a harsh approach but……well….I’ve been into and through this subject before, so I’ll just post this…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/01/28/be-ware-of-stoats/

The return of the Voles meant the return of the Hen Harriers and the Short-eared Owl.  There’s a new addition to the birds of prey - a Sparrow-hawk – but I think he’s after the sparrers – fat little peanut-fed beasts that they are!

We’ve never managed to get a photo of any of the birds of prey that fly over us – they’re just too fast and by the time one of us gets a camera – they’re gone!


More About ‘Wild Service’….

A chapter entitled ‘Den’ by Paul Powlesland begins with the words…

“….this might be a desert island or a fairy-tale palace, but it might also be a tree house, a rock shelter, a camp or an undergrounds hideout as cosy as the burrows of Peter Rabbit or Bilbo Baggins; as ingenious as Stig’s home in the Dump; as well-provisioned as Fantastic Mr Fox’s network of Farm-raid tunnels. A den.”

I likes dens.  I refer to the room in which I sit and type as my den.  As a child I would drape a sheet over a table and the space beneath would be my den, where only my dog and my dolls were allowed to join me.  In a house containing a family of seven, plus lodgers, this space was needed.

When my Dad became the Caretaker of a school, we lived in a house in the school grounds in which I found a Holly tree that I could crawl under, into a clear space in which the lowest branch provided a seat for my den – only my dog was allowed in that one.

I like it when we come across a den on a walk…



And I like this poem…



A Warning!....

I watched ‘Springwatch’ on Tuesday evening, and was especially interested in the item about how pesticides from the treatments people use to prevent fleas on their dogs and cats are leaching into our rivers and killing other insects….


I’ve been aware of the potential danger to the animals which are treated, and to the people who stroke and cuddle them, but had never thought of the knock-on effect of those chemicals getting into water systems either when dogs play in a river, lake or garden pond - are washed, or when people wash their hands after applying the chemicals to their pets. 

Well done ‘Springwatch’ for bringing this to the attention of the public.  Many who genuinely care for animals and the environment will be appalled at their own potential  contribution to this problem.

There is an alternative. Years ago, Mike and I didn’t like the idea of inflicting the chemicals used in flea collars on Cat Souxie, or on the humans stroking her! 

A very kind vet advised us to mix a bit of finely chopped garlic, or garlic granules, into Souxie’s food to stop her getting fleas. It worked.  Then when Ben-The-Dog joined our household we did the same.  Carefully mixing garlic granules into his food, I felt like a gourmet chef for pets!  Ben was with us for 12 and a half years, and he never was troubled by fleas.



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