Since my last owling post on 8th March, I've seen a few Little Owls, and also added two new LO sites to my list.
A visit to my local patch turned up both LOs at my Site No.12. I got an image of the first one in the barn, but the one on the outside of the barn emerged from between some bales in full flight, and I missed nailing the flight shot!
Little Owl - my Site No.12
Just down the road at my Site No.02 the female bird was in her favourite place on the barn.
Little Owl - my Site No.02
Acting on a tip-off, I added Little Owl Site No.18 to my list - near Oaks in Charnwood. I'd visited here the week before, and found nothing. Only a single bird was seen and that departed when I got to within 200 metres - so no images! I've been back three times since and not relocated the bird, but I did see a drake Mandarin on a more recent visit!
A week later, a trip out to buy bird seed for the garden birds had me making a small diversion to my LO Site No.15 near Croxall (Staffordshire). I was pleased to see that both birds were out. I think that I've only once managed to capture an image (and a very poor one at that) of two Little Owls in the same picture. As I set off to take some photos, I put up a Corn Bunting. It's more than two years since I've seen one in this area, so I was rather pleased to grab a record shot.
Both the LOs at this site seem to me to be painfully thin. I hope that they are OK
Little Owls - my Site No.15
Little Owl - my Site No.15
The following day I went on a very enjoyable Birdwalk round Thornton Reservoir organised by LROS (Leicestershire & Rutland Ornithological Society). No photos, except of a Mink and the local 'Barnacle Goose' resulted, but I was tipped off about a Little Owl site not far away. After the walk I headed off there, taking three other people with me. I'm pleased to say that I was the first to spot the LO (It'd have been embarrassing if someone else had spotted it first!). In fact, I'm 80% sure that I could see a second bird too. This is now on my list as my Site No.19. Unfortunately, no sensible images are likely to arise as the tree is right in the middle of a sown field, rather a long way from public access. The images below are very heavily cropped.
Little Owl - my Site No.19
I'd taken sandwiches and so the rest of the day was spent owling. I didn't have much luck, but I couldn't resist returning to one of my more recent sites - my LO Site No.17. I set up my hide on top of a farm trailer, and didn't have to wait too long before one of the birds emerged. It spent a lot of time checking me out from various angles and locations, and then the second bird emerged and did the same, favouring different vantage points. This time I managed to sort out which bird was which, by the patterns on the heads. The only problem I had was that I did not want to get out of my hide whilst the birds were in view in case I spooked them. It was two hours before I got away!
Little Owl (A) - my Site No.17
Little Owl (B) - my Site No.17
Little Owl (A) - my Site No.17
After another attempt at finding an owl at my LO Site No.18, I headed off to site No.19 to see if any better images were possible. They weren't, but at least I was able to confirm that there were two LOs here. You probably won't be able to spot them in the first heavily cropped image below. With the aid of the lines which point at the shoulders of each bird in the second extremely heavily cropped image, you might be able to find them. I don't think that I'd have spotted them if I hadn't been sure that this tree was occupied by owls!
Little Owls - my Site No.19
Most of the rest of the day was spent in trying to find new owl sites. None were found but I did get several good pointers and some promising locations. I decided to round off the day with yet another attempt to see a LO at my Site No.05 near Snarestone. I've many a time seen a single owl here (never a pair), but not since October last year. I stopped my car and peered through the hedge at the distant nest tree - bingo, it was there. I went back to the car to get my camera and returned to find the bird had gone! Fortunately I managed to relocate it - sitting beside a second bird! Distance, messy branches in the way on the tree, and shooting through a hawthorn hedge half a metre in front of my nose (which fogged the image), meant a pretty poor record shot resulted, but by greatly increasing the contrast (to reduce the fog) I have at least got a record of the pair.
Little Owls - my Site No.05
Not a great day photographically, but to see two pairs of Little Owls was a real excitement for me.