The grasslands at Essex Wildlife Trust’s Thurrock Thameside Nature Park
With their bright yellow eyes and tufts of feathers resembling small ears, Short-eared owls are a real delight to see.
Spending most of the year in the north of the country, the winter months see an increase in the south-east as a number of these magnificent birds fly over from the continent in search of food.
The grasslands at Essex Wildlife Trust’s Thurrock Thameside Nature Park in Stanford-le-Hope are a perfect hunting ground for these owls, who prey on small mammals such as voles.
Each winter a number of these birds arrive and put on a display, often posing in the visitor car park or hunting directly outside of the centre.
Unlike other owls in the UK, Short-eared owls can frequently be seen hunting during the day, giving more people a chance to experience their beauty.
Jimmy Allan, Essex Wildlife Trust’s Site Manager at Thurrock Thameside Nature Park says: “It’s a real delight when the Short-eared owls are back, I’ve been watching this one fly back and forth outside the visitor centre all week.
“We’re hoping they will continue to stick around for a while but you never know with nature, so pop down as soon as possible for a chance to see this spectacle.”
Thurrock Thameside Nature Park Visitor Centre is open daily from 9am-5pm, with panoramic views over the Thames estuary, wheelchair access and a café serving warm food and drinks throughout the day. Free parking is on site, Mucking Wharf Road, Mucking, Stanford-le-Hope, SS17 0RN.