Dark-breasted Barn Owl ~ Southease, East Sussex - 16.02.13

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Late afternoon we made our way to a field alongside Southease Station in East Sussex where a Dark type Barn Owl has been seen ..
We met Paul S there who gave us the lowdown on the birds previous behaviour and it did exactly that .. !!

Tyto. alba. guttata ( C. L. Brehm, 1831 ) 

Central Europe North of the Alps from The Rhine to Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine and South to Romania, NE Greece and South Balkans. Intergrades with alba at the Western border of its range.
Darker than nominate. Upperparts more Orange-Brown with a more pronounced grey veil than alba. Underparts Buff to Rufous with some dark speckles more than in alba. Facial disc white becoming brownish towards the bill. Females on average more Buff/Rufous on underparts than males.

This is a Dark type bird but is it within

the varition of  T. a. guttata if it is then 

surely it's on the lighter phase, due to 

the grey veil being sparsely marked 

and rather clean looking facial disc ....
Could it be an exceptionally dark T. a. alba ...
Could it be one of intergrades from where the ranges come together at the western edge of the T. a. guttata overlap ..
Could it be another subspecies ...

Information on this subject I'm finding hard to come across.

Like all Owl's, when this superb bird came into view and flew pass there's just something magical in watching it ..

Dark-Breasted Barn Owl

One thing is for certain, what a beautiful looking bird ...



I messaged Martin Garner who kindly took up my questions and did a blog post read in full

birdingfrontiers blog post

Regards the owl, it’s clearly not acceptable as guttata for the following reasons:
The pale undertail coverts and pale legs are the giveaway – they should be buff in guttata
pale underwing coverts – should be buff in guttata
white facial disc – should have extensive dark marks around the eye in guttata
pale grey primary tips – should be much darker grey in guttata
rather thin barring across primaries – should be broader in guttata and go across the whole feather
underpart spotting – this bird is rather lightly spotted, but may be OK for male guttata
So there really is nothing going for it as a guttata apart from a slightly more extensive buff breast than normal, and to be honest, I’m surprised that some information services are still listing it as such. Some female alba can show buff breasts like this, and there may well be a tendency for birds in the east of Britain (East Anglia mostly, but of course we don’t know where this bird was hatched) to exhibit more extensive buff breasts as a result of influence from the near Continent and the intergrade zone in the Low Countries and France. In short, this is either a British alba or possibly an intergrade from the near Continent, but I suspect it was hatched in Britain.
Paul French.


Jim said...

Stunning set of photos mick.

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Great shots.. Congrats..

Ben Porter said...

Stunning bird and a fantastic set of images Mick

chiddy said...

i think i need a bigger lens superb as always

Anonymous said...

You know what ? Wow !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!