Four owlets rarely spotted in the wild are calling an Angus golf course home after the site became a “haven” for nature during lockdown.
The birds, believed to be elusive long-eared owls, have been delighting members at the newly-reopened Forfar Golf Club after their mum moved into a nest near the fairways.
The course has recently reopened to members after the Covid-19 outbreak forced a closure of about two months – with wildlife said to be flourishing at the site following the break in sports activities.
The young owls first came to the attention of club management after one of the animals fell from its nest as a youngster.
And now staff are keeping a close eye on the birds, who are beginning to spread their wings at the course.
Forfar Golf Club’s shop manager Fraser Henderson, a keen photographer, has been monitoring the activities of the owlets.
He has been sharing images of them using the club’s Facebook page.
Mr Henderson, 30, said it is believed to be only the second time owls have reared chicks on the course in 25 years.
He added: “We are quite fortunate here as we get roe deer, red squirrels, pheasants and ducks on the course.
“I was volunteering on the course during the lockdown and I definitely saw more red squirrels and roe deer on the course. We do put food out for the squirrels.
“It is quite a haven for them (the animals).
“Seeing that number of owlets is quite rare.
“I am in the shop and a lot of the members have been nice enough to tell me where they are seeing them.
“They have now started to fly about the course looking for food.”
The birds’ striking orange eyes have led staff at the course to believe they are long-eared owls. The species is also known for its notable “ear tufts”.
Long-eared owls are a secretive species and their breeding habits have been historically under-recorded.
They establish themselves in the old nests of other birds instead of building their own.
There are believed to be between 1,800 and 6,000 pairs in the UK.
Members have been naming the Forfar owlets after golfing greats, with Tiger and Jack among the monikers used.
Mr Henderson, who has been golfing at the Forfar club since the age of eight, said: “Photography is just a hobby. I get to share what is going on about the club.
“It has been brilliant to see. We are fortunate to have a lot of wildlife on the course but this is probably one of the rarest things we’ve had.
“The green-keeper has been here 25 years and seen only one nest of owls.
“We have been checking in just to make sure the mother is looking after them. They all seem to be doing pretty well.”