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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

End-of-Month Owl Update - on 31st August, 2010

With the poor weather over the past week or two (until recently), I have not been out owling too much. Owls are neither fond of wind or rain, and both together doesn't make for good owling - unless your name is Paul Riddle!

On Friday 27th I popped out to my local patch for a very brief visit. Only saw the Little Owl at my site No.02. I nearly missed her as she was not on the barn roof as usual, but in a tree - however, she was dozing, as usual!

Little Owl - my site No.02

At a Farmer's Market a couple of weeks ago I was talking to a lady who told me that she had been seeing Little Owls on a post outside her lounge window. She agreed to let me visit, and so I decided to go there on Saturday (28th). On the way I called in at my site Nos.05 and 06, and then at site No.09.

No owls were visible at 05, but I did locate one of the owls at 06. I think that this one is the female.

Little Owl - my site No.06

At site No.09 I arrived to find that two Little Owls were sitting together above the nest - can you spot them in the image below? Through the bins I could see that one of them, at least, was a juvenile. There were still cows in the field here, and they gave the game away by coming to greet me as I tried a stealthy approach. I didn't get closer than about 150 metres before the owls dispersed.

Little Owls - my site No.09

I managed to re-locate one of the owls in a tree, and this turned out to be an adult bird - so one juvenile and one adult (as seen on my previous visit to this site).

Little Owl (adult) - my site No.09

After this, I headed off to the potential new site. I was shown round by the kind lady, and introduced to the farmer who confirmed that he had seen a Little Owl (juvenile, he thought) a few days previously. No owls were found during an hour's stay, but it was getting very windy by the time I got there. As I now have permission to roam the farm, I shall return to see if I can increase my tally of sites to 15!

Since finding my latest LO site (No.14) on 21st August, I have made a few return visits and not managed to re-locate an owl, until yesterday evening (30th). I eventually found an owl in the guttering on the other side of the barn (but same end) as I'd previously seen one. I reckon it lives in the gap between the end-capping and corrugated roof, and is able to get from one side to the other under cover! As soon as it saw me it ducked into this space, and so I set up my hide and waited - and waited! Eventually it popped out again and spotted me immediately, but was not in the least perturbed! Unfortunately, although the sun had been in the right direction to start with, it had long since gone down, and there was no way I could get a good image with natural light although I shot off about 50 frames. It wasn't helped by the owl totally ignoring me for most of the time, and looking away. I decided to risk using flash the next time it turned towards me. I did and the bird remained totally unfazed. I took one more shot this way, and decided that I should then leave it and go home. Unfortunately the bird had other ideas. I did not want to emerge from the hide whilst the bird was still there, but no amount of subtle sounds and gentle coughs could get it to move. Just as I was about to say to hell with it, it decided to fly down to a post in front of me - but behind a bush - Damn! It then went looking for worms in a field and I made my escape.

The results of the flash-assisted images are a little surreal in some ways, but I think maybe a little better than the handheld high ISO long exposure shots. I would welcome any feedback on this.

Also, whilst I am now confident that the owl was not startled in any way by flash photography, does anyone know if this might present any danger to the owl's eyesight? Again, comments would be appreciated - there is no way that I want to do anything detrimental to my owls!!!

Little Owl (juvenile) - at my site No.14 - taken with 'natural light'

Little Owl (juvenile) - at my site No.14 - flash-assisted image


  1. Love the 3rd shot of the Little Owl Richard. Really expressive.

  2. Thanks, Glen. It's probably one of my better LO images this year.


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