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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

April Owls - April, 2015

I'd intended to do this post before now, but things got in the way. I'll try and keep this post from being too verbose. Sorry, but this post will be more of a record of sightings than a gallery of fine images!

Wednesday 1st April

I'd been over to a meeting near Rutland Water and, on my way back, I spotted a Barn Owl on the roadside grass verge of a country lane. This was good news, as this was only a few hundred metres from where there were breeding Barn Owls last year. The bird flew up and onto a newly cut hedgerow before I could stop. I managed this distant shot in the gathering gloom.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) - my Barn Owl Site No.18
Thursday 2nd April

An afternoon/evening out owling with pal Titus had us seeing nine Little Owls over six different sites. Here's a couple:

Little Owls (Athene noctua) - my Site No.34
Little Owls (Athene noctua) - my Site No.36
It was only when we looked at our photos later that we realised that there'd been two owls in the tree at No.36 (look below the more obvious of the owls in the image!

On the way home we arrived at where I'd seen the Barn Owl the previous day, and found the owl flying towards us before we were stopped. It veered off before it got to us.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) - my Barn Owl Site No.18
Sunday 5th April

I had an extremely early start this day, leaving home at 03h30, as I was looking after people visiting a photographic hide. Wending my weary way homeward in the afternoon, I did manage to see seven Little Owls during my travels, and the Barn Owl was sitting in the nest hole at BO18 as I passed. Here's some of the Little Owls. You'll see that the LO in the first image is being just as as difficult to spot at it was in the previous image from Site No.36! The two owls at No.41 were very obliging as I took some photos from the comfort of my car.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.36

Little Owls (Athene noctua) - my Site No.41
Tuesday 7th April

I went to check on the situation at my latest Little Owl site which is not very far from my home. I found one of the owls busy defending his nest from marauding Jackdaws. He was doing a splendid job! He then tucked himself away where he could keep guard away from the nest opening.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.49
Thursday 9th April

Another owling afternoon/evening with Titus gave us just five LO sightings over four sites, although the site with two birds (No.40) gave us much excitement as this was the first time we'd seen two birds here - a site that I'd first found two years previously!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.44
Little Owls (Athene noctua) - my Site No.40
We'd seen a Barn Owl in the nest entrance of BO18 as we drove past on the way out, and on the return journey we stopped in a gateway 450 metres away from the nest tree to have our tea. The light had gone by the time the owl flew past us, and no useful images were obtained.

Monday 13th April

Another very early start had me seeing the Barnie at BO18 at 04h29 as I drove past. Wending my way homeward before lunch I saw five LOs over four sites. Here's one from No.41.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.41
Tuesday 14th April

I wanted to visit my LOs at my latest site (No.49) to check if they were still fending off the Jackdaws. However, on a previous visit I'd heard a LO call from a few hundred metres behind me when I was looking at the owls, so I went to investigate. Bingo! New Site No.50!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my new Site No.50
Everything seemed to be fine at Site No.49, which is only about 450 metres (as the crow flies) from new No.50.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.49
Wednesday 15th April

A walk on my local patch (somewhere I've rather neglected this year!) resulted in three Little Owl sightings at three different sites. The last sighting was particularly exciting for me as it was the first sighting at this location (Site No.11) since May 2014.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.11
Thursday 16th April

Another owling session with Titus produced six Little Owls over five sites, and a glimpse of the Barn Owl in the nest entrance at BO18 as we drove past on the way home. We were particularly pleased to see a LO at Site No.46 - the first sighting since December, in spite of passing this way 2 to 4 times a week. I also got my best ever image from Site No.40 - although there's still a lot of room for improvement!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.46
Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.40
Sunday 19th April

I started with a visit to my LO Site No.03, and one of the owls was out.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.03
I then went off for a chat with a farmer friend who used to host one of my LO sites until the nest tree disintegrated in a gale. He'd been seeing a Barn Owl, and wanted to discuss putting up a nest box. I was tasked with a bit of investigation. More on this one later.

On the way home, a Little Owl was out at my Site No.02

Tuesday 21st April

I had a quick trip out to check on my two latest Little Owl sites (Nos. 49 & 50). I found one owl out at each site.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.50
Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.49
Wednesday 22nd April

I had a quick visit to my LO Site No.17 where I'd not seen an owl since October, in spite of several visits. I was pleased to see an owl, even if I only got a distant record shot.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.17
I then went back to my farmer friend to discuss the Barn Owl box situation. This resulted in me heading off to some derelict buildings in a very remote area of his farm where I saw a Barn Owl a few years ago, and which even he rarely gets to visit. This was with a view to erecting a box in these buildings. I soon found that this would be a non-starter when I found a Tawny Owl roosting in the late evening sun. I also found that the buildings had deteriorated beyond redemption since my last visit. The light was actually very much worse than it seemed to be and I only managed a few distant record shots before it disappeared. At least I'd had my first (and so far only!) Tawny Owl sighting of the year!

Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) - my Site No.TO14
Thursday 23rd April

Out with Titus again, and five Little Owls seen over four sites, including a pair at Site No.44 which is where we were seeing a pair until they disappeared in August and didn't reappear again until a single bird in February and now a pair seen again in April. Fingers crossed this time! On the way home we saw a Barn Owl at my site BO10 where I'd not seen an owl since last May. Only a record shot was obtained, but this is the owl that came up trumps big-time as the subject of my previous post, and features on my header whilst this post is current!

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) - my Barn Owl Site No.10
Sunday 26th April

I went to check on my two most recent LO sites, and drew a complete blank. However, it was getting near dusk and I went off to do a little prospecting - and came up with a Barn Owl. Unfortunately it showed as I was rounding a building and this got in the way of the only shot I managed to get in. It then disappeared and I couldn't relocate it.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) - my new Barn Owl Site No.22
I've since made a return visit and have now seen the owl dip into a hole in an old Oak tree. I'm not sure if this is a nest or a roost site. As the owl was aware of my presence, I've not made any further visits yet as I must avoid disturbance, but I have now sussed out a way I can view at a distance, and unseen by the owl, to try and establish the nature of this site.

Thursday 30th April

As usual on a Thursday I was out with Titus. We saw seven Little Owls over five different sites. In the last image, you can just detect that there's a second bird to the left of the obvious one.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.41
Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.40
For me, from an owling point of view, April was a remarkable month. I've only ever had one month with a greater number of Little Owl sightings, and that was in June last year when numbers were boosted by juveniles. By the end of this April I'd had twelve Barn Owl sightings - I'd had none by the same time last year. 

This month (May) has been a bit slower for various reasons - most of which were outside my control.

Thank you for dropping by.