On Monday I just couldn't face another day of staying in, just staring out of the window, in spite of all the bird activity in the snow in our garden, so I jumped into the Smart and set off for my local patch.
I started by a visit to my Little Owl Site No.12, and the farmyard. Other than a flock of twenty or so Yellowhammer which were sheltering in a barn, virtually nothing was seen. As I headed back towards the gate my right leg went from under me on the ice, and I hit the deck. Fortunately I had my camera in my hand as I fell, and managed to give it a bit of a 'flick' just before it too hit the deck. It seems that I managed to reduce the impact enough that no damage was done, and I suspect that the camouflage covers that I have on the lens helped matters as they are lightly padded - the main reason I bought the covers in the first place! I was also fortunate that I'd not fallen a few metres earlier as I'd been wading through rather smelly slurry from the cattle pens - where I fell it was bone-dry!
I gingerly picked my way along the ice-covered road to my LO Site No.02. There was no sign of an owl, and the snow round where the owls usually emerge was undisturbed - not a good sign, even a little worrying!
I then set off across the fields to view my recently re-inhabited Site No.11. There was undisturbed snow round the entrance hole here too. By now I was realising that I'd damaged my knee in the fall, and was in some discomfort, and so decided to head back for home.
As I approached Site No.02 for the second time I noticed that one of the owls was out. I must have spent a good ten minutes wandering around taking photos, and it stayed put, seemingly totally undisturbed by my presence. You can see from the strange (2nd) image which is taken from virtually underneath the owl that it wasn't even bothering to look at me. And it was still in the same place when I left.
|Little Owl - my Site No.02|
As my car was parked by the farm, I paid a second visit to the farmyard, but still nothing exciting seen, so I started back home in the car on the single-track road from my patch. I was taking it very slowly (probably only 5mph/8kph) and just starting to go up a rise in the road when this 4x4 pickup with 'truckman' type top came shooting round the bend at an estimated 30-40 mph (48-64 kph). He didn't stand a chance of stopping as he was on ice on a downhill slope. He missed my Smart by about six inches as he ended up in the hedge beside me! Sadly, there was no visible damage to his vehicle, and he managed to extricate himself with little bother - I hope he learnt a lesson, however! If this seems harsh, after I got under way again, I came across a walker, and then two cyclists, that he had passed just before encountering me. If either of these had been in the location that I'd been in they'd have probably slipped over in trying to get out of the way, and who knows what the outcome would have been! It reinforced my belief that, no matter how careful you are, it's the idiots out there that will get you!
Anyway, back to owls:-
I've spent little time owling this month, partly due to this bug I've had, and is still ongoing, but on 9th January I had an afternoon out with my pal Titus (the bug manifested itself later that evening). Our objective was to visit a few of my more remote Little Owl sites, and to see if we could find any more sites. To cut a long story short, we only spotted one LO at existing sites, but we did find a new site (my No.34), which I spotted as we were travelling along a gated lane. It was almost sundown by then, and I only managed a view from the car, as the bird soon ducked back into its hole, possibly disturbed by our presence a good 70 metres away. This is the best image (heavily cropped) that I could get.
|Little Owl - my new Site No.34|
Fortunately this site is only a small diversion from my route when I am on Osprey Watch duties in the spring/summer!
A couple of days later, on 11th January, I was passing near my Site No.15 on my way to pick up some bird seed. To my delight, both Little Owls were out - I've not seen two birds together here for a long time. However, there's currently no responsible way of approaching this site to a photographic distance, so only record shots were obtained here. You should, however, be able to spot two birds (other than the Crow!) in the first image.
|Little Owl - my Site No.15|
I think that I'll round up the musical interests from my schooldays (rock'n'roll days) by including a track from the legendary Eddie Cochran. There were plenty of other bands and musicians that I liked, but I think that I've covered most of my most important influences from those times by now - although perhaps Art Blakey, Miles Davis, and Charlie Mingus deserve a mention as I had a brief dalliance with the modern jazz scene!
Anyway, this is one of my favourite Eddie Cochran tracks.