Long-eared owl

The long-eared owl (Asio otus), also known as the northern long-eared owl, is a species of owl which breeds in Europe, Asia, and North America. This species is a part of the larger grouping of owls known as typical owls, family Strigidae, which contains most species of owl. The other grouping of owls are the barn owls, family Tytonidae.

The scientific name is from Latin. The genus name Asio is a type of eared owl, and otus also refers to a small eared owl.[2]

Long-eared owl
Asio otus -Battlefield Falconry Centre, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England-8a
At a falconry centre in England
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Asio
Species:
A. otus
Binomial name
Asio otus
Asio otus distribution map
Range of A. otus      Breeding range     Year-round range     Wintering range
Synonyms
  • Asio wilsonianus (Lesson, 1830)
  • Otus wilsonianus Lesson, 1830
  • Strix otus Linnaeus, 1758

Description

Long-Eared Owl on Seedskadee NWR (24684373661)
Long-eared owl at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge (Wyoming)

The long-eared owl is a medium-sized owl, 31–40 cm (12–16 in) in length with an 86–100 cm (34–39 in) wingspan and a body mass of 178–435 g (6.3–15.3 oz).[3][4] It has erect blackish ear-tufts, which are positioned in the centre of the head. The ear-tufts are used to make the owl appear larger to other owls while perched. The female is larger in size and darker in colouration than the male. The long-eared owl's brownish feathers are vertically streaked. Tarsus and toes are entirely feathered. Eye disks are also characteristic in this species. However, the eye disks of A. otus are darker in colour or rusty-orange. This nocturnal species is perhaps most easily seen perched in a tree in its daytime roost, sometimes in small groups during the winter months. There are about six thousand long eared owls in the United States, and fifty thousand in the whole world.

Separation from short-eared owl

Over much of its range, long-eared owls occur with the similar-looking short-eared owl. At rest, the ear-tufts of the long-eared owl serve to easily distinguish the two (although long-eared owls can sometimes hold their ear-tufts flat). The iris-colour differs: yellow in short-eared, and orange in long-eared, and the black surrounding the eyes is vertical on long-eared, and horizontal on short-eared. Overall, the short-eared owl tends to be a paler, sandier bird than the long-eared. There are a number of other ways in which the two species differ which are best seen when they are flying:

  • short-eared owls often have a broad white band along the rear edge of the wing, which is not shown by long-eared owls;
  • on the upperwing, the short-eared owl's primary-patches are usually paler and more obvious;
  • the band on the upper side of the short-eared owl's tail are usually bolder than those of the long-eared;
  • the short-eared's innermost secondaries are often dark-marked, contrasting with the rest of the underwing;
  • the long-eared owl has streaking throughout its underparts whereas on the short-eared the streaking ends at the breast;
  • the dark markings on the underside of the tips of the longest primaries are bolder on short-eared owls;
  • the upperparts of short-eared owls are coarsely blotched, whereas on the long-eared they are more finely marked;
  • the short-eared owl also differs structurally from the long-eared, having longer, slimmer wings: long-eared owls have wings shaped more like those of a tawny owl.[5]
Búho chico (Asio otus), Arcos de la Frontera, Cádiz, España, 2015-12-08, DD 04
Close-up of the head.

Behaviour

Asio otus MWNH 2203
Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

The long-eared owl's breeding season is from February to July. This bird is partially migratory, moving south in winter from the northern parts of its temperate range. Its habitat is forest close to open country. Overall, these owls are secretive, and are rarely seen.

It nests in trees, often coniferous, using the old stick nests of other birds such as crows, ravens and magpies and various hawks. The average clutch size is 4–6 eggs, and the incubation time averages from 25–30 days. It will readily use artificial nesting baskets. An unusual characteristic of this species is its communal roosting in thickets during the winter months. The young have a characteristic call, likened to a rusty hinge.

The long-eared owl hunts over open country by night. It is very long winged, like the similar short-eared owl, and glides slowly on stiff wings when hunting. Its food is mainly rodents, small mammals, and birds. In Europe it faces competition from the tawny owl and is most numerous in localities where the tawny is absent, notably in Ireland, where the long-eared is the dominant owl; it can occasionally be seen even in Dublin city centre, and breeds in the Phoenix Park to the west of the city.

Subspecies

Four subspecies are recognized:[6][7]

References

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Asio otus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 57, 286. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
  4. ^ "Long-eared Owl". All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
  5. ^ Harris, Alan, Laurel Tucker and Keith Vinicombe (1989) The MacMillan Field Guide to Bird Identification pages 147-149 (reference covers whole paragraph)
  6. ^ "Long-eared Owl". owlpages.com. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
  7. ^ "Long-eared Owl". ARKive. Wildscreen. Archived from the original on 2013-02-04. Retrieved 2013-04-23.

Bibliography

  • Davis, A.H. and R.J. Prytherch (1976). Field identification of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls. British Birds 69:281-287.
  • Kemp, J.B. (1982). Field identification of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls. British Birds 75(5):227.
  • Robertson, Iain S. (1982). Field identification of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls. British Birds 75(5):227-229.
  • Kemp, J.B. (1982). Tail-lengths of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls. British Birds 75(5):230.

Migration

  • Erritzoe, J. & Fuller, R.A. (1999). Sex differences in winter distribution of Long-eared Owls (Asio otus) in Denmark and neighbouring countries. Vogelwarte 40:80-87.

In art

John James Audubon illustrates the "Long-eared Owl - Strix otus" as Plate 383 in Birds of America, published London, 1827-38. The print was engraved by Robert Havell in 1837. The original watercolour was purchased from Audubon's destitute widow by The New York History Society where it remained until 9/11, when it was destroyed.

External links

Abyssinian owl

The Abyssinian owl or African long-eared owl (Asio abyssinicus) is a medium-sized true owl.

Asio

Asio is a genus of typical owls, or true owls, in the family Strigidae. The genus Asio contains the eared owls, which are characterised by feather tufts on the head which give the appearance of "ears".

The genus was introduced by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760 with the long-eared owl (Asio otus) as the type species. The genus name Asio is the Latin name for a type of eared owl.This group has representatives over most of the planet, and the short-eared owl is one of the most widespread of all bird species, breeding in Europe, Asia, North and South America, the Caribbean, Hawaii and the Galápagos Islands. Its geographic range extends to all continents except Antarctica and Australia.

These are medium-sized owls, 30–46 centimetres (12–18 in) in length with 80–103 centimetres (31–41 in) wingspans. They are long winged and have the characteristic facial disc.

The two northern species are partially migratory, moving south in winter from the northern parts of their range, or wandering nomadically in poor vole years in search of better food supplies. Tropical Asio owls are largely sedentary.

Asio owls are mainly nocturnal, but short-eared owls are also crepuscular. Most species nest on the ground, but the long-eared owl, Asio otus, nests in the old stick nests of crows, ravens and magpies (family Corvidae) and various hawks.

These owls hunt over open fields or grasslands, taking mainly rodents, other small mammals and some birds.

Dassault AVE-C Moyen Duc

The Dassault AVE-C Moyen Duc was a sub-scale experimental stealth UAV built in France in 2004 as a step in the development of a UCAV under Dassault Aviation's LOGIDUC programme. AVE-C stands for Aéronef de Validation Expérimentale - Contrôle ("Experimental Assessment Aircraft - Control"), and Moyen Duc is the French name for the long-eared owl, but also a wordplay on the LOGIDUC programme name, with moyen meaning "middle". As the AVE-D was designed by Dassault according to a rapid prototyping to cost methodology, the AVE-C was developed and completed within a year and the first prototype was produced in July 2001.

The AVE-C is a stealth tactical UAV prototype developed according to the French Army's post-SDTI needs in reconnaissance. In 2002, Dassault planned to create an industrial partnership with French electronic company Sagem. The company was founded the following year as Dassault-Sagem Tactical UAV with the purpose to mass-produce the Moyen Duc. The 2004 tactical UAV Dassault-Sagem SlowFast is based on the Moyen Duc, with the Sagem Sperwer's ground control station, and will be used by the French Army.

Dassault LOGIDUC

The Dassault LOGIDUC – sometimes spelled Logiduc in French and LogiDuc in English – (Logique de Développement d'UCAV, French for "Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle development solution") was an autonomous industrial program launched in 1999 by the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation in view to develop its UAV design capacities. This French programme eventually led to the creation of the Dassault-Sagem Tactical UAV company and to the European "combat drone" project nEUROn.

The LOGIDUC program consisted of a series of three stealth aerial vehicles, from scale 1/100 to 1/1, in view to collect data required by the production of a fighter-sized stealth UCLAV type supporting the Dassault Rafale in the 2010s and to design autonomous stealth fighters primary used by the French Air Force circa 2025.

The two first vehicles, AVE-D and AVE-C, are scale model 1/100 (50kg) and 1/10 (500kg) stealth "tactical drones" (UAV), while the final version was to be a full-scale (5,000kg) prototype stealth "combat drone" (UCAV).

Each vehicle was given an owl name as "Duc" ("duke") is the French name of a nocturnal bird of prey species known in Latin as Otus aka Scops owl. Petit Duc ("small duke") stands for scops owl, Moyen Duc ("medium duke") stands for long-eared owl and Grand Duc ("large duke") is eagle owl. Other Dassault aircraft with bird names are the Dassault MD 315 Flamant (flamingo), the Dassault Falcon (falcon) family and the Dassault Hirondelle (swallow).

LOGIDUC was a 3-step program with the following aims:

Petit Duc:Mastering stealth aircraft design.

Confronting stealth aircraft to modern air-to-air combat systems.

Confronting stealth aircraft to modern ground-to-air combat systems.Moyen Duc:Experimenting unstable yaw aircraft control methods.Grand Duc:Acquiring full mission system representativity.

Acquiring composite pack airborne control.

Acquiring collaborative flight with drones and aircraft.

Acquiring live air-to-ground weapon release.The Petit Duc and Moyen Duc both reached the flying stage; the Grand Duc was cancelled in 2003 and replaced by the nEUROn European project.

Dersingham

Dersingham is a village, civil parish and electoral ward in the English county of Norfolk. It is situated some 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) north of the town of King's Lynn and 70 km (43 mi) north-west of the city of Norwich, opening onto The Wash.

The civil parish has an area of 14.5 km2 (5.6 sq mi) and in the 2001 census had a population of 4,502 in 2,110 households, the population increasing to 4,640 at the 2011 Census. For the purposes of local government, the parish falls within the district of King's Lynn and West Norfolk.

Sandringham House, a favoured Royal residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and several of her predecessors, lies just to the south of Dersingham in the parish of Sandringham. The Queen visited Dersingham Infant School to mark her Diamond Jubilee accession day on 6 February 2012.The Church of St Nicholas is a Grade I listed building. The wooden parish chest, dating from the middle of the 14th century, is carved elaborately with the symbols of the four Evangelists; on the lid, there is part of an inscription.

The nearby Dersingham Bog National Nature Reserve, managed by Natural England (formerly English Nature), contains habitats ranging from marshland to heathland and woodland. Birds such as the redpoll, crossbill, long-eared owl, tree pipit, sparrowhawk and nightjar can be found there.

Eostrix

Eostrix is an extinct genus of primitive owl the extinct family Protostrigidae from early Eocene of Wyoming and the London Clay of England. It was erected by Pierce Brodkorb in 1971 to place a fossil species known until that time as Protostrix mimica.

Two species are recognised. E. martinellii was described in 1972 from a left tarsometatarsus (lower leg bone) recovered from an escarpment above the southeastern bank of Cottonwood Creek in Fremont County, Wyoming by Jorge Martinelli on a field trip in 1970 under the auspices of the University of Kansas. The strata was a Lysite member of the Wind River Formation. Martinelli was studying paleontology at the University of Barcelona. Paleontologists Larry D. Martin and Craig Call Black from the University of Kansas Natural History Museum named it in his honour. The smaller of the two species, it was similar in size to the living long-eared owl (Asio otus). Differences in the trochleas (grooves) of the lower end of the tarsometatarsus set it apart from living owls, namely a groove in the trochlea for digit 2, a deeper posterior groove in a relatively narrow trochlea for digit 3, and an unusually rounded trochlea for digit 4.

List of birds of the Isle of Man

Over 300 species of bird have been recorded in the wild on the Isle of Man, a self-governing island in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. Over 100 species breed there, including significant populations of red-billed chough, peregrine falcon and hen harrier.A variety of seabirds breed on the coastal cliffs such as Atlantic puffin, black guillemot, black-legged kittiwake, European shag and northern fulmar. The island gives its name to the Manx shearwater which formerly nested in large numbers on the Calf of Man. The colony disappeared following the arrival of rats but the shearwaters began to return in the 1960s. The Ayres in the north of the island have colonies of little tern, Arctic tern and common tern.Moorland areas on the island are home to red grouse, Eurasian curlew and northern raven. Woodland birds include long-eared owl, common treecreeper, Eurasian blackcap and common chiffchaff. There is little native woodland on the island and several species found in Great Britain, such as tawny owl, Eurasian green woodpecker and Eurasian jay, do not breed on the isle of Man.

Many birds visit the island during the winter and migration seasons including waders such as purple sandpiper, turnstone and golden plover. Wintering wildfowl include small numbers of whooper swan. A bird observatory was established on the Calf of Man in 1959 to study the migrating and breeding birds. By the end of 2001, 99,042 birds of 134 species had been ringed there. Numerous rarities have been recorded there including American mourning dove and white-throated robin.

The list below includes 323 species of bird. The English names are those recommended by the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) with alternative names given in brackets. The scientific names and classification follow the British Ornithologists' Union (BOU). Species marked as rare are those for which the Manx Ornithological Society (MOS) requires a written description in order to accept a record.The Manx Ornithological Society uses the following codes:

A: a species which has occurred naturally on the island since 1 January 1950

B: a species which has occurred naturally but only before 31 December 1949

C: a species with an established breeding population as a result of introduction by man

C*: a species which has visited the island from an introduced population in Great BritainFailed introductions such as black grouse or species which are not yet established such as red-winged laughingthrush are not included on the list.

List of nocturnal birds

There are many birds that are active nocturnally. Some, like owls and nighthawks, are predominantly nocturnal whereas others do specific tasks, like migrating, nocturnally.

North Island brown kiwi, Apteryx mantelli

Barn owl, Tyto alba

Short-eared owl, Asio flammeus

Long-eared owl, Asio otus

Great horned owl, Bubo virginianus

Barred owl, Strix varia

Spotted owl, Strix occidentalis

Eastern screech-owl, Megascops asio

Western screech-owl, Megascops kennicottii

Whiskered screech-owl, Megascops trichopsis

Flammulated owl, Psiloscops flammeolus

Elf owl, Micrathene whitneyi

Great gray owl, Strix nebulosa

Northern saw-whet owl, Aegolius acadicus

Boreal owl, Aegolius funereus

Burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia

Kakapo, Strigops habroptilus

Maarten 't Hart

Maarten 't Hart (born 25 November 1944 in Maassluis) is a Dutch writer. Trained as a biologist in zoology and ethology at the University of Leiden, he taught that subject before becoming a full-time writer in the 1980s, having made his debut as a novelist in 1971 under the name Martin Hart with Stenen voor een ransuil ("Stones for a Long-Eared Owl").

He is the author of many novels, including Het Woeden der Gehele Wereld and De kroongetuige. His books have been translated into a number of European languages, and he is especially popular in Germany. Three of his novels, Een vlucht regenwulpen (A Flight of Curlews, trans. 1986), De aansprekers (Bearers of Bad Tidings, trans. 1983), and De zonnewijzer (The Sundial, trans. 2004) have appeared in English, as have a few of his short stories.

The themes of his novels, which often have an autobiographical component, include:

the hometown of his youth, Maassluis

the strict form of the Protestantism with which he was brought up, and his rebellion against it

the love of a man for a woman

the relationship between an elderly man and a young man (e.g. a father and his son, a teacher and a student)

guilt.His writings are full of detailed descriptions of nature (e.g. the weather, insects, plants) and show his passionate love for classical music (especially the music of the composers Bach, Mozart and Schubert).

Hart is supporter of the Party for Animals, and, in 2004, agreed with the party to underline that by becoming a candidate in the European elections. However, for this he needed an official identity document, and he has no driving licence, and had neither a passport nor another identity document (he had not been abroad for 10 years), and, for reasons of principle, did not want to get one for this purpose. He is also a prominent radio and television personality, and a regular contributor to daily newspapers.

He currently lives in Warmond, close to Leiden, with his wife. His chief pastimes are music – he plays the piano and the organ – and reading. He says he reads six books a week, in Dutch, English, German, and French. He knows very little about films and rarely watches one. He does not want to be involved in films based on his books. He was, however, "rat consultant" to Werner Herzog for the film Nosferatu the Vampyre. This turned out to be a disagreeable experience about which he wrote a story, "Ongewenste zeereis", that appeared in 2004 in Granta under the title "Rats".

Madagascan owl

The Madagascan owl (Asio madagascariensis), also known as the Madagascar owl or Madagascar long-eared owl, is a medium sized owl endemic to the island of Madagascar. It is sometimes considered to be conspecific with the long-eared owl (Asio otus.)

Natural History Museum (Thessaloniki)

The Natural History Museum in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece is in the grounds of the Zoo on Kedrinos Lofos in the Hilia Dendra district. It opened in 1994, its purpose being to show the public the various species of fauna in Greece. All the animals and birds are displayed in natural attitudes and are in themed groups.

Inside the museum, the guide shows visitors a wide variety of birds, mammals, skeletons, bones, reptiles, and rocks. There are eight showcases displaying the mouth of the Axios River, a typical forest in Macedonia from 100 m to 1,000 m above sea-level, rock samples, stuffed owls and eagles, a snowy landscape at alpine level, skeletons and bones of mammals and birds; and two showcases containing highland reptiles and lowland reptiles.

The first showcase shows the fauna of the Axios delta, an area which is protected by international conventions and has an ecosystem similar to that of the River Evros. The area is home to waterbirds (many types of duck, stork, and heron) and numerous animals, even jackals, which have disappeared from other parts of Greece.

In the second showcase we see the wildlife on a typical mountain in Macedonia, particularly as it takes shape at different altitudes between 100 m and 1,000 m above sea level. The display includes the homes of animals (badgers, foxes, rats, moles) and a number of birds.

In the third showcase are rocks from the Cyclades, while the fourth displays the raptors of Greece, both nocturnal (long-eared owl, eagle owl, barn owl) and diurnal (marsh harrier, magpie, Levant sparrowhawk).

In the fifth and sixth showcases, visitors can see the reptiles of Greece, both those living in the mountains and those that keep to the plains.

The seventh showcase portrays the food chain, showing a pine marten hunting a squirrel, a snake catching a mink, a mink catching a lizard, and a fox hunting water rats. Opposite there is a replica of a dolphin which lived in the Thermaic Gulf until ten years ago, and corals, a lobster, a crayfish, crabs, and sponges; and the eighth and last showcase contains the skeletons of numerous animals and birds. From the skeletons on display it is possible to determine the age and the sex of each animal and whether or not it suffered from certain diseases.

Naturschutzgebiet

A Naturschutzgebiet (abbreviated NSG) is a category of protected area (nature reserve) within Germany's Federal Nature Conservation Act (the Bundesnaturschutzgesetz or BNatSchG).

Although often translated as 'Nature Reserve' in English, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) refers to them as 'Nature Conservation Areas'.

Parkhurst Forest

Parkhurst Forest is a woodland to the north-west of Newport, Isle of Wight, England.

The site is partly a site of special scientific interest. It consists of both ancient woodland, relict heathland and plantation woodland. The woodland is freehold owned and managed by the Forestry Commission. It is 395 hectares in area and the second largest forest on the Isle of Wight after Brighstone Forest. It is open to the public.

It is much used as recreational land and is a haven for wildlife including the red squirrel and many species of bird such as garden warbler, nightjar, woodcock, green, great spotted woodpecker and long eared owl.

An industrial area is located off Forest Road within the forest itself. Factories were located in this way during the Second World War to avoid German bombers. One of these factories, a former aircraft hangar, became the printworks for J. Arthur Dixon, the eponymous manufacturer of greetings cards and postcards.James I hunted deer in the forest. There have been sightings of wild deer reported on the Isle of Wight.

Rodrigues owl

The Rodrigues owl (Mascarenotus murivorus), also known as Leguat's owl or (somewhat misleadingly) Rodrigues little owl, was a small owl. It lived on the Mascarene island of Rodrigues, but it is nowadays extinct. It is part of the genus of Mascarene owls, Mascarenotus, although studies have recommended reclassifying it and its relatives under the genus Otus. Like many of the Mascarene land-birds, the genus was a distinct relative to South-East Asian taxa, in this case apparently being a descendant of the direct ancestor of the Oriental scops owl.It is sometimes assumed that Leguat mentioned this bird in his 1708 description, but this seems to be in error; Julien Tafforet gives a good description in 1726, however. The Rodrigues bird, which Tafforet compared to the petit-duc, the Eurasian scops owl (and not, as often assumed to the little owl, the chouette chevêche), was more arboreal than its congeners and fed on small birds and "lizards" (small specimens of the Rodrigues day gecko and the Rodrigues giant day gecko). A monotonous call was given in good weather.

Considering the bird's likely relationships as evidenced by the subfossil bones discovered later, and the detailed description of the related Mauritius owl, the Rodriguez bird was as large as a good-sized Australian boobook, with females reaching the size of a long-eared owl, and had ear tufts like an Otus owl and nearly naked legs.

In the original description, Milne-Edwards referred the bones to a Strix owl, mistakenly assuming that Tafforet had described a species of the tuftless owl genera. One larger tibiotarsus was assigned by him to the same sort of bird, but not described further. Günther & E. Newton, in their discussion of additional bones, quite logically assigned this bone to a female of this species, given that the small size of the island seems to preclude two competing similar species of owl to coexist. Rothschild, however, described the larger bone as type of what he assumed was a miniature eagle owl, Bubo leguati. It is nowadays accepted that the assignment to sex by Günther & Newton was correct.

Réunion owl

The Réunion owl (Mascarenotus grucheti) was a small owl that occurred on the Mascarene island of Réunion, but became extinct before living birds could be described; it is only known from subfossil bones. It belongs to the Mascarene owls of the genus Mascarenotus, and most likely was similar to a long-eared owl in size and appearance, but with nearly naked legs. However, as per recent studies, it and its relatives may belong to the genus Otus, and is likely descended from the Otus sunia lineage.

Compared to the Mauritius owl and the Rodrigues owl, it was the most terrestrial species of the genus, with long legs and possibly somewhat reduced flight capability; more probably though it was simply smaller than the Mauritius bird – between that species and the one from Rodrigues in size – but had equally long legs: the only suitable food available in quantity on Réunion were small birds. It can be assumed to have preyed on sleeping songbirds in the manner of the unrelated but convergent Grallistrix "stilt-owls" from Hawaii.

Short-eared owl

The short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) is a species of typical owl (family Strigidae). Owls belonging to genus Asio are known as the eared owls, as they have tufts of feathers resembling mammalian ears. These "ear" tufts may or may not be visible. Asio flammeus will display its tufts when in a defensive pose, although its very short tufts are usually not visible. The short-eared owl is found in open country and grasslands. The scientific name is from Latin. The genus name Asio is a type of eared owl, and flammeus means "flame-coloured".

Stock Hill

Stock Hill (grid reference ST5551) is a Forestry Commission plantation on the Mendip Hills, Somerset, England.

It lies to the south of the B3135 which runs from Cheddar Gorge to Green Ore and is the largest woodland on the Mendip plateau. A number of wide rides run through the forest. In addition parts of the woodland are clear-felled, and in these areas a number of plant species associated with heathlands and acidic soils are present.

It is notable as a site for scarce birds, and as a result is popular with birdwatchers. It is one of the main breeding sites in northern Somerset for nightjars. In addition, long-eared owl nests here annually.

An "easy-going trail" has been constructed to enable access for people with mobility issues. The trail starts opposite the entrance to the car park and is made up of level compacted gravel. It is dedicated to Ian McArdle of the Cheddar Valley Access Group. He was a disabled man who loved Stockhill Forest and the Priddy Mineries opposite and inspired the trails creation.Some of the trails form part of the national long distance footpath, the Monarch's Way.

Adjacent to the woodland on its western side (across a minor road) is Priddy Mineries, a nature reserve of the Somerset Wildlife Trust.

Thornhaugh

Thornhaugh is a civil parish and village in the city of Peterborough unitary authority, Cambridgeshire in the United Kingdom. For electoral purposes it forms part of Glinton and Wittering ward in North West Cambridgeshire constituency.

Thornhaugh (or Thornhaw) is derived from Old English and means a thorn enclosed low-lying meadow beside a stream. There is evidence of a settlement here as far back as the 12th century, but probably has earlier origins. Although the village of Thornhaugh itself is quite small, the parish is one of the largest in the county of Cambridgeshire at 1,096.33 acres (443.67 ha). The parish is crossed by the A1 and A47 roads.

The village was declared a conservation area in 1979. The road that runs through the village is Russell Hill, named after William Russell, 1st Baron Russell of Thornhaugh who lived here. The Russell family are also associated with the Bedford Estate in Central London where you will find Thornhaugh Street and Russell Square in Bloomsbury.

St Andrew's Church dates from the 12th century, although much restored in the 19th century; it is a Grade I listed building. The village sign commemorates the first Baron Russell of Thornhaugh. Although the main village is close to the A1 road, there is a significant hamlet (Home Farm, Leicester Road, Thornhaugh) with a dozen houses about one mile west of the main village just off the A47 road, consisting of an old hunting lodge (now two houses) and associated farm buildings (all now residential).

The Sacrewell Farm and Country Centre is in the parish, to the east of the A1. Sacrewell is named after a "Sacred Well" in Sacrewell field near Sacrewell Lodge. Some sort of mill probably existed here since the Roman occupation. Excavations have found two Roman villas, a corn drier and storage building - an ideal site being adjacent to Ermine Street and next to a spring. Three mills in the area were mentioned in the Domesday book, and it is likely that Sacrewell was one of them. A new watermill, mill house and farm were completed in 1755 and was originally called Curtis’s farm after William Curtis who died in 1779.

William Scott Abbott became a tenant at the farm during the First World War and expanded the farm operations. After his death his widow Mary carried on following her husband’s dream. Her nephew David Powell took over the management of the farm in 1959 and in 1964 Mary founded The William Scott Abbott Trust. The vision was to provide an agricultural education for all and the educational values they promoted are still very much alive. The watermill remained a working mill until 1965, when it was no longer profitable, however, it has now been fully restored as a heritage working mill; a centre of milling excellence and an educational tool with a £1.4 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant. Sacrewell visitor centre was opened to the public in 1981 and the farm and watermill are now successful visitor attractions.

Within the parish of Thornhaugh is Bedford Purlieus National Nature Reserve, an historic woodland of 520 acres and part of what was the ancient Royal Forest of Rockingham. Up to the mid 1600s it was known as Thornhaugh Woods or The High wood of Thornhaw. The name changed when the Dukes of Bedford took ownership renaming it Bedford Purlieus. English Nature declared the wood a National Nature Reserve in 2000, in recognition of its importance as a species-rich semi-natural native woodland. The wood is the most ecologically diverse wood in Britain and home to more plant and insect species than most other woods in this country. Muntjac and fallow deer are found on the reserve, and bird life includes nightingale, red kite, sparrowhawk, kestrel, little owl, tawny owl and long-eared owl. Reptiles at the site include adders, grass snakes, common lizards and slow worms. Bedford Purlieus is managed by English Nature and Forest Enterprise in partnership and is open to the public during daylight hours.

There is significant confirmation of Roman industrial occupation within the wood with many iron ore extraction pits and evidence of a bath house. It was featured on series 17 of television’s Time Team in 2011.

During the Second World War, Bedford Purlieus was used as part of RAF Kings Cliffe for airmen’s living accommodation which were dispersed around the woods to reduce the risk of being hit in the event of an air raid. Various foundations still remain. Buildings within Leedsgate Farm (private property) included the theatre, gym and chapel for the airbase.

Williams' jerboa

Williams' jerboa (Allactaga williamsi) is a species of jerboas native to Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey.

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