© Durham Bird Club. Managed by Sacha Elliott

Mark Newsome
Sep 27, 2017

Scop's Owl!


A great find by Tom Middleton, relatively new birder to County Durham. To quote RBS's message, "Today's Scop's Owl in Ryhope is the 1st mainland record for 10 years, a 1st for #Durham + 1st for the north east in over 100 years! #BigNews"

Location is excellent for visiting birders as the bird itself can stay undisturbed and visitors can get great views from a public footpath. Good positive experience all round.


One to remember for Ando; when I rang him to pass the news on, he was literally stood within 30m of the tree! Talk about being in the right place at the right time.


Excellent photo by Brian Smith attached.



Mark Newsome
Sep 27, 2017

Directions for the Scop's Owl. Park sensibly on the road and walk down through the tunnel under the railway.


Mark Newsome
Sep 27, 2017

A happy gathering of birders! (photo by Johnny Mac)


Sep 27, 2017

Well done to finder Tom and Mark.N et al for getting news out.

This seems to have been a near perfect experience for those fortunate enough to be able to visit !


Visitors coming from as far away as Fife, London & Kent !


Generally 45-50 people there at a time after mid morning, at 1 point prior to 3pm I counted 64.

There was a constant stream of visitors - there must have been 800+ people today.


I presume theres not much chance of it being there tomorrow.....?



Mark Newsome
Oct 4, 2017

After 7 days of delighting visiting birders, it looks like the Scop's Owl has moved on (although perhaps just moved to a different tree and not been found yet!) A fantastic event for local birders and the county, and all seems to have gone very well with no reports of bad behaviour or bad fieldcraft/disturbance of the bird. I wonder how many birders made the trip to Ryhope? 1000? 2000? Bird of the autumn! So far...

Oct 5, 2017Edited: Oct 5, 2017

Day #8

Who'd have thought !

Must be replenishing its fat reserves & waiting for a tail wind ?


I'd love to see it depart.... I wonder if it would do the same as a Shorty & Long-eared and spiral up to gain height before making off ?


(I gauged about 800 people the first day Mark, but even this Tuesday there were still new visitors coming back & forth all day - a bloke who was there all day estimated 500 on Tuesday. As you say it must be 1,000's now who've seen it)


Think the image below shows just how small these Owls are (this migrant found a temporary home on a British Royal Nay vessel in Arabia).





Oct 6, 2017Edited: Oct 6, 2017

Friday 6th Oct: - No sign of Scops by 15:00....

Visitors still up from Sussex, Lancashire & several from York.


Last night was cold & clear, the Full Moon was up & there was a slight tailwind from the North...

Seemed like good conditions to get on its way.....



Hidden in plain view - once you knew were he was he could be seen with the naked eye.


Thursday evening

This was the first day we've seen the Scops active in daylight.

Its plumage was fluffed out & its ear tufts raised for most of the day.

It preened for over half an hour & wing stretched & head bobbing before flying & becoming active at 18:40. Watched on & off for nearly half an hour it flew from perches & to the ground, presumably feeding although views obscured somewhat by the canopy.


Scops active in the canopy at 18:50


I reckon its restored its fat reserves & chosen a perfect moonlit night to have continued its migration.

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