Visiting my local patch yesterday, I stopped off at my Little Owl site No.02 - no owl visible, but there was a juvenile Woodpigeon where I would expect to see an owl!
Having looked around my nearby LO site No.12 - owl briefly seen in barn before flying off as I walked by - I then decided to visit some old haunts where owls had not been seen for a while. However, as I passed site No.02 again the owl was out. As I have been worried about the owl for a while now and, I'm sorry to say, I've got a bit attached to this one (a bit like family!), I decided to sit in my car and watch it for a while (over an hour, actually!). Until recently this owl has always had a very similar appearance. However, whilst I watched it, it went through several transformations of appearance as depicted below. My observations did not ease my concerns, however. The owl kept nodding off in exposed positions and I got the feeling that it was ill or over-tired. I also noticed what appear to be two small growths on its right eyelid (can bee seen on images below with its eyes closed), and at one point it looked as if these were giving it a problem.
this is more like the owl as I always used to see it
After about an hour, during which the owl coughed up a pellet (the first time I've seen an owl do this - too mesmerised to take a picture!) the owl flew into a nearby tree. I left my car, and managed to relocate it. It's not often that I see this owl anywhere but on the barn.
Little Owl - at my site No.02
From my patch, I headed for Staunton Harold, about six miles away. I have two LO sites here. At one (my site No.01) I have not seen an owl this year, but there is a crop in the access field stopping me from exploring properly. At the second LO site here (my No.08), I had not seen an owl since March. I was, therefore, delighted to see a LO on a post in the field, albeit at a great distance.
Little Owl - my site No. 08
I only got to within 150 metres before the owl flew off. I saw roughly where it had gone, and went to see if I could find it. Unfortunately, by the time that I found it I was much too close (it wasn't where I thought it had gone), and as soon at it saw that I'd seen it it was off. This time I did see where it had gone, but decided it was time to leave the bird in peace. I dropped in at the round car park overlooking the reservoir and sat in my car for a while. There were very few Tree Sparrows in evidence, but this was probably not helped by a couple sitting on the wall close to where they would normally be. However, the Nuthatches were not put off by these people - but the light was not good for photography.
Today I returned to my local patch. Just for a change I found a Little Owl in a tree at my site No.12 (a working farmyard). I usually only find it in a barn, unless it's after dark.
Little Owl - my site No.12
After this I took a walk past my site No.02 (no owl visible) and down to the stream to check on my site No.11. I'm still convinced that the owls here have been driven away by bees in the nest hole, but I keep checking. I'd just taken a few shots of bees on the Teasels, when a Kingfisher flew past along the stream - a first on my patch for me! It's only a few days ago that the farmer was saying that some years ago there used to be Kingfishers along the stream. He's going to be pleased when I see him next!
Teasel (with Bee)
On the way back to my car, I found that the LO was now out at my site No.02. I think this owl is getting used to me as she didn't move a muscle as I took photos!