Thursday, 12 June 2014

TWO NEW LITTLE OWL SITES

Funny how things work out sometimes. Somewhat stressed out of from endless contraflows and snarled up motorways I knew after work yesterday I needed some time out with my camera and a spot of birding. I wouldn't have long the ensuing traffic made sure of that. I grabbed my camera and my bike and headed out.
The original plan was to make the most of what remained of the day and visit some local Swallows and Housemartins then after that I had eyed up some potential Little Owl sites.
HOUSEMARTIN
SWALLOW, ADULT

SWALLOW, JUVENILE

ADULT SWALLOW AND A SLEEPY JUVENILE SWALLOW
 The Housemartins and Swallows were busy feeding in the fading light and the juvenile Swallows were also out and about though some were more active then others.
I was soon off to check out the site for Little Owls. The site had potential plenty of horse paddocks, barns and the "right" types of tree...if that makes sense.
I was heading down the lane at the end of which was a private school I was cycling along looking on with envy at the cricket pitch wishing for a quick batting session on the field, with on site security it wasn't going to happen, I was going to have to stick on the public footpath, the sun was setting so if there was any Little Owl's on the site it was now the best time to see them, it was 8:30pm when my wandering mind was snapped back to reality, perched on top of the most unlikely "post" was an all to familiar blob....is it an omen for the upcoming World Cup?
HE SHOOTS, HE SCORES!
 These are quite heavily cropped, there was no way of getting any closer the school ground is off limits, however the Yew tree (wasn't expecting a Yew tree being it's choice of tree) it was using is closer and unlike the goalposts in better light, this site would be better in the morning rather then having the sun being from behind the Little Owl.
THE BALL NEVER CROSSED THE LINE
 You might be able to make out the flying insects around the owls head, every now and again it would snatch at them, it dropped down onto the ground and flew into a nest cavity inside the Yew tree with what was either a very large earthworm or potentially a Slow Worm, I could then see a second owl a quick food pass and it was back onto the goal post and the second adult bird went back into the cavity.
Intially I was worried about all that netting but it seemed to know what it was doing, the only hazzard might be when if any young fledge the nest, maybe.
WHAT YOU LOOKIN' AT, WANT SOME DO YOU?
I was quite happy, this was my first new site in ages. When I got excited all again but somewhat "miffed", I heard in the distant another owl calling, quite a far distance from this site, I could see both birds in front of me so knew this was another bird, I was miffed as it was calling from the area I just had cycled past...little buggers!
But as the second Little Owl called I heard a Tawny Owl calling and it was close. I started to scan the area and realised again on the schools site it was coming from a somewhat strange looking "barn".
Circular in shape and not exactly level! I have seen on other blogs Tawny's using barns for daytime roosting and with Buzzards in the nearby copse's I was guessing it might be using the barn for a day time roost, but I was wrong. I had attracted the attention of the security guard, god I hate security gods...ooops I meant guards. This guy was okay he quickly realised what I was up to and we chatted...now look at the entrance of the barn again.
Apparently a now retired teacher had but a Barn owl box in there and was once used by a Barn Owl but is now used by a Tawny Owl (he had seen the Tawny on his night patrols and talked at length about his sightings, which was good to hear) they had to place the stuff in front of the door to stop the children from going in and disturbing the owl...that is good thinking in my opinion, it bred last year but he hadn't seen any young this year. I asked about the risk of the Little Owl getting caught in the net, the guard said the nets were coming down at the end of the week but it has been using the the goalposts for as long as he could remember he also pointed out how the nets on the post were up and the other goal posts they weren't....someone seems to be switched on at the school towards birds.
I had a second owl to locate and made my excuses and left, as I cycled down the track again! I soon spotted my second Little Owl site perched on top of a barn, surely I couldn't have cycled past it first time round. In my defence....who I am kidding I had, this one was getting hassle from all things the juvenile Swallows using the barn, shutter speeds were low so no shots of that. So some high ISO and low shutter speed shots instead.


A horse owner then came and checked me out. We had a nice chat and she agreed I could come back anytime and wander around the paddocks as long as I closed all the gates after I had finished and if I injured myself I wouldn't sue (!!!), fair enough I thought, my cycle home I was making plans already on how to achieve better images, so hopefully more to come.

15 comments:

  1. Great shots Douglas. What an excellent evening.

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    1. Thank you Adrian it was the perfect end to a particularly rubbish and stressful day

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  2. Seems like you found the perfect remedy for winding down after a grueling day Douglas?
    Lovely shots of the Swallows and House Martin. And those shots of the new goal line technology...er?...Little Owls are brilliant.
    Good to hear that you met two people who seem to be 'aware' of the wildlife around them.
    I bet you'll be back there soon?...I'm looking forward to seeing the photo's!...[;o)

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    1. I fully support the notion that green spaces, nature etc is perfect for unwinding from day to day stresses. I get more excited meeting people who either enjoy or are aware of the nature around them and take either an interest or just enjoy watching then your average "expert" there's a "uniqueness" to their enthusiasm if that makes sense...as Arnie once said " I'll be back"

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  3. It's well over a year since I've found more than one new Little Owl site in a day, Doug, and I'm looking all the time. Well done you! And a Tawny site too! In spite of the threat of having my motives questioned because of the school, I'd be staking this place out big-time!

    I like the images too - considering the light conditions. I reckon that images like these are of great value as they show the true situation at the time, and convey more than the chance, or set up, close portrait image.

    Enjoy the coming weekend - I don't think the weather forecast is too bad!

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    1. The thought of staking the school out with my big lens had crossed my mind before I met the security guard he told me the Tawny showed late in the evening. But as you say the weekend is coming lol.
      I think it's been almost a year since I saw a new site and couldn't believe my luck finding two that were really a shot in the dark type search. I was surprised I got as close as I did on the second owl despite not having anywhere to hide, brave bird.

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  5. Lovely shots of the Little Owl Doug; and a pleasant change to meet up with people that have an interest in the wildlife around them.

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    1. Thanks Keith, it was nice to meet people who enjoy and appreciate what is around them but also friendly. All too often some can be "go away".

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    2. Thanks Keith, it was nice to meet people who enjoy and appreciate what is around them but also friendly. All too often some can be "go away".

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  6. Fabulous encounters Doug! Very envious indeed. Really enjoy your captions too. It is nice to know that some unlikely people are also on the bird's side and want to help them succeed too. Lovely swallow images too, the little ones are so fluffy and cute!

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    1. Yeah those Swallow's are growing quick I couldn't get the juvenile House Martins but the juvenile swallow's win on looks.
      It is always encouraging to find unikely people who enjoy nature..untapped potential supporters for wildlife.

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  7. Great LO shots Doug, a nice find!

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    1. Thanks Paul I was well chuffed as you can imagine. Just got to work a bit harder now to get some better images.

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