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Friday, 29 August 2014

New Little Owl Site No.48 (feat. The Phantom Raspberry Blower) - August, 2014

In my last blog post relating to owls I mentioned some Little Owls (Athene noctua) which Titus and I had found, following a tip-off from the local farmer. We'd seen two juveniles at this location, and as it was only approximately 600 metres away from my Site No.41, we were reasonably confident that these were dispersed juveniles from that site. Within a few hours of publishing that post we'd changed our minds! The story will unfold!

In 14th August, immediately after publishing that post, I headed over to Titus's place and we set off on our usual owling route. We soon diverted to where the juvenile LOs had been seen and, almost immediately spotted one in the fork of a tree, which was joined just a short while later by its sibling.

Little Owls (Athene noctua) (juvenile) - my new Site No.48
Soon one of the young owls got bold and popped up onto an exposed branch to have a better look at the piece of machinery (Titus's car!) which had stopped by their tree.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile No.1) - my new Site No.48
It didn't stay long before it headed off down the fence line. Then juvenile No.2 dropped down onto the gate beside us! I'll apologise here and now for the lack of variety of locations in the multitudinous images  in this post. For me, the beauty is in the poses and expressions of these wonderful creatures. There's also some feet in there for the benefit of Doug and Noushka!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile No.2) - my new Site No.48
Juvenile No.2 then moved along the top bar of the gate and started playing with some blue baling twine. Titus and I couldn't stop chuckling as it did so!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile No.2) - my new Site No.48
Meanwhile, juvenile No.1 had started making its way back up the fence line. It spent a short while preening before heading off and ending up in a place where we could see it, but photography was impossible

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile No.1) - my new Site No.48
We'd started to wonder about some LO calls that we were hearing but which sounded rather 'adult' and not quite in the direction of the juveniles were were observing ( I often find it difficult to pinpoint the direction of owl calls - possibly due to the hearing aids that I wear these days). Suddenly Titus spotted the owl, well hidden behind some leaves. With a bit of manoeuvring, neck craning, and luck with the wind on the leaves, a shot was managed of an adult owl. It was at this point we realised that we almost certainly had a new LO site, and not dispersed juveniles from Site No.41.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my new Site No.48
The young owls seemed to respond to the calls of the adult, and suddenly beetled off home, and we decided that it was time to go.

The following day I was on duty on the LROS stand at Birdfair. On my way home from that event, I called in at No.48 again, and was rewarded with the sight of one of the juveniles. At first it seemed quite lively. I particularly like the first image which reminds me of a heraldic 'lion rampant'

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile) - my new Site No.48
After this, the bird got decidedly sleepy. The following, in the sequence in which they were taken, shows what I mean! I just wish the feet had been visible!

The very last shot that I fired off that day, has to be one of my favourites of all time, and is the subject matter of the sub-title of this post. I give you, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Phantom Raspberry Blower!  (sorry if the expression is lost on my overseas readers - click here to help with your understanding)

The Phantom Raspberry Blower
Subsequent visits have confirmed the 'new site' status, but I think that's enough of Little Owls for one post! The area looks to be promising in other respects too. The next image was taken less than 100 metres from the nest tree.

(Northern) Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) - by my LO Site No.48
Thank you for dropping by. There'll probably be more owls in my next post - the hint is in the current header image!