SOMETIMES when wildlife spotting you strike lucky – and the fates were certainly stacked in my favour last week when I stumbled upon a long-eared owl one morning by the edge of a small forestry plantation in Clackmannanshire.

I had just emerged from the trees when I glimpsed the owl sitting on a fence post, perhaps only 30 or 40ft away from me.

It’s going to fly away, I thought, so more out of hope than expectation I gently raised my camera to my eyes, but the owl didn’t move, and I was able to snap the photos shown here.

Long-eared owls are secretive birds and seldom seen, but from experience I have found that early morning on Ochil sheep pastures is the best time to see them.

They like conifer belts for roosting and nesting but will hunt over adjacent grassland for voles and mice.

Watching one hunting in the air is a marvellous spectacle and the haphazard nature of the flight is quite astonishing, fluttering moth-like on unsteady wings, swerving and stalling as it covers the ground meticulously in search of prey. At other times they will sit in trees or on fence posts to look for small rodents and invertebrates.

My Wee County badger-cam also came up trumps last week by catching a badger on film during daylight.

Badgers are very nocturnal animals, but I had purposefully located the sensor-operated trail-camera by a remote sett in the Wee County, where I knew there was a good chance of filming one when the sun was shining.

Sure enough, the camera did just that, capturing the two photos shown here. There was plenty of other wildlife activity around this badger sett too, including colourful jays collecting and storing beech-mast, and foraging red squirrels.

One interesting piece of footage was a badger collecting bracken and other bedding material for its sett.

The material was bundled together, hugged to the chest and chin with forelegs keeping in place. The badger then shuffled backwards into the sett with its new bedding.

In winter, badgers will even take bedding out of the sett so as to give it a good ‘airing’, before returning the material back underground to the sleeping chamber.