Another Long-eared Owl nest has been found during the course of the Duhallow survey, at a site near Rathmore. A female and male had been heard here at an earlier stage of the survey in March, so was earmarked for closer scrutiny. The copse of trees pictured below was from where the female called most frequently so was examined closely, and although there were no signs of pellets or feathers below, there was a large stick nest high in one of the pines.
The Long-eared Owl nest (circled), about 15 metres (45 - 50 feet) high, in a Sitka Spruce.
The nest (circled) is a large clump of twigs, probably an old Hooded Crow's nest (Photos: M.O'Clery).
A dusk watch was going to be needed to confirm if it was indeed an active owl's nest. Sure enough, a few minutes after sunset, a female Long-eared Owl started calling. After a few minutes, she launched a ferocious aerial assault on a passing Hooded Crow, which fled in obvious alarm at the aggressive attack. She called a few more times from nearby trees, before returning to the nest, where she continued calling. Like the other nest near Newmarket (see post below), there was no sign of the male (though he'll almost certainly be nearby, or off hunting), and no sound of any chicks. It's likely that the females are still incubating eggs at both sites, so we are already getting a small but valuable insight into the timing of the breeding cycle.