Sunday, 10 August 2014


To find a new Little Owl site doesn't happen to often for me so it is always a pleasant surprise when I find a new site.
You may remember a post a while back when I was contemplating whether to walk down a certain overgrown footpath but opted to not bother, I didn't fancy getting stung to be fair. I vowed to return once some of the vegetation had died down a little as there had been a promising looking barn...
Well on the way back from work on Saturday I decided to do a bit of a diversion and have a look at the path and see if the vegetation had died down it was only a mile or two out of my way.
 Well it looked passable to so decided after checking my OS map decided to go and check the barn out, it was according to the map on a public footpath so went for it.
Having seen the barn on my last visit I'll be honest I was hoping for a Barn Owl. It looked quite a good spot for one.
In the image below I opted to sit in the long grass/set aside on the right hand side of the frame.
 Now from the image below you can see how big the footpath was, crops right up to it's border, now I could start to bleat on about "not much set aside" etc. But look at the hedgerow plus on the other side of the hedge was another field a meadow also some of the other fields did have set asides. So who cares if the footpath is slim and small....less people and only delusional types like me will venture down it. More importantly there was a great big set aside that led like a corridor right up to the barn.
 I did have to cross a ditch via a footbridge, a bridge that I have named the "BRIDGE OF DEATH" due to the Hawthorn and the bleedin' amount of times I got pricked or scratched or snagged my shirt on another thorn, it's only a work shirt after all.....nice birds in the hedgerow though but I didn't have long and the clouds were getting darker.
I didn't get a chance to look in or around the barn for any activity of Barn Owls. As I laid my bike down in the grass and got my camera out of it's bag I saw a shadow in the corner of my eye.
I saw a small blob, a Little Owl, peering at me from a hole in the roof of the barn.
 I sat down and watched, it would peer up at the sky and kept looking to the area in the left of the frame. I watched it fly in and out of the barn, out via this hole in the roof and back in from the other side of the barn (look in the barn image and the left hand side of the frame) from where I was sat because the side of the barn facing me was missing most of it's side/frontage I could just make out the shadow of it returning though could not make out if it had prey.
I didn't try for flight shots as it left the barn as the shutter speed was at a low 1/340th so every time it left the barn (five times in the two hours I stayed) I moved myself more central to the opening but not closer.
I got myself a few frames and as the clouds got darker watched the owl fly out and off again and got up and left. I was happy with what I got for today, flight shots were out of the question and I didn't want to overstay my welcome and I rather had a hide with me. I find with Little Owls a slowly,slowly bit at a time approach works better for me and flight shots and definately a hide would be better, that got dusted down when I got home.
The below image is my favourite shot.


  1. These are great Douglas.
    I admire your dedication.
    You were correct and so was the Daily Star. Bertha is here but of course it is now just a depression. Stay safe.

    1. Thank you Adrian it is a worry when the Daily Star is correct, I am in the truck today yet it doesn't seem as bad as it was predicted.

  2. Your curiosity and field craft certainly payed off Douglas...great shots of the Little Owl....the barn looks like it has great potential for much more?
    Going by the condition of the footpath it doesn't look like there's much human disturbance in the area either?
    I bet it was hard work negotiating that path with the bike?...[;o)

    1. Cheers Trevor. I agree the Barn has potential to play host to much more, for now I will be content with the Little Owl.
      The footpath along with many others I have found myself wandering along this summer has had more wildlife then people this one was very tricky with the bike especially the bridge of death :-)

  3. That is a fantastic story Douglas, all credit to your approach and attitude to birding ..... I too tend to '' stake out '' a bird and observe rather than making a direct approach. The time that you are investing now will I am sure pay dividends in the future ..... well done !

    1. Thanks John it does pay to take the time rather then diving straight in and snapping away it helps that with the right approach Little Owl's are very bold and curious at times and great to watch

  4. What a superb looking barn Doug, I too would have thought Barn Owl! It is great when a hunch pays off, well found on the Little Owl. Obviously breeding has taken place here as I take it that you know the images you captured are of a juvenile?

    1. The barn just screams "barnie's home" doesn't it.
      At first I thought adult but after watching I realised it was a juvenile hunting. I reckon there is another one from it's behaviour, though I also reckon it's a dispersal site as I also heard another one LO calling from a nearby Ash and was quite vocal so there is hope for a Barnie maybe

  5. A great find, Doug. Don't give up on the possibility of a Barnie here yet. They've been known to share buildings with LO before now. Some of my juvenile LOs are dispersing now, and as this one seems to be feeding itself, yes, this could well be a dispersed juvenile, with the calls you heard being from the adults at the natal site - or another juvenile!

    This wind's a ruddy nuisance, isn't it!!

    1. Thanks Richard never knew the barnie&lo would share I hope this to be the case at this site.
      Yeah the big winds for yesterday never materialised except the rain it seems windier today.