Notes on Use of This Blog


1. I have a policy that I always reply to comments on my blog, even if it's just to say thank you.

2. Please don't submit comments that include your own web address. For obvious reasons, they will not be published.

3. I'm now on Twitter - @RichardPegler1

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Intruder - on 25th February, 2013

I'd been really looking forward to three days of wall-to-wall owling whilst my wife, daughter, and granddaughter were in Disneyland, Paris. So what happens? We get snow and high winds which blocks roads. The owls were not going to be out in that lot!

Sunday was a write-off as the snow was blowing horizontally, and I had plenty to do at home. On Monday, however, I felt stir-crazy, and set off out after a very early lunch. My intention was to visit a few places where my Little Owls might be found sheltering from the wind. 

I drew a blank at the first place I visited, but there were Yellowhammer everywhere. These were extremely nervous birds, but as I stood with my back to a barn one flew and landed on the ground not 6 ft (2 metres) from me. It was there for less than a second before it spotted me and fled, and it would have been too close to focus anyway, but I did manage a couple of shots of one that landed on a fence about 30 ft (10 metres) away.


Yellowhammer (male) - Leicestershire
I then moved onto my next Little Owl site, where I can partially see into the nest barn from a distance. No Little Owl was visible at first, but then I saw a Barn Owl further back in the building. The instant I spotted it, it was out and away. My camera was set up for inside shots, so I messed up with the photography. Most of my attempts were totally out of focus, and wrongly exposed. The only salvageable images of any sort were what I believe are commonly known as DAH shots.


Barn Owl - undisclosed site, Leicestershire
Although the owl crossed the hedge line, it did so only briefly before coming back and continuing to the far side of the field, dipping down and landing at the foot of a hedge a good couple of hundred metres away.

Barn Owl
I was able to walk along the lane to a point where I could clearly see both sides of the hedge running away from me, but I couldn't get a view from an angle. I was sure the bird was in there and probably only about 30 metres away, so I hung around. Suddenly it emerged from the opposite side of the hedge to which it had entered from, and was off! Again, frustratingly I couldn't achieve focus until it was really far away. This is the best I could do. I only offer it because I like the atmosphere of the image.

Barn Owl
Now I don't see too many Barn Owls, and whilst I was delighted to see this one, it also left me with some worries! Had my Little Owls fallen prey to this intruder. I set off to see if I could find either of the owls in some of the most likely spots. I found one of them had been hiding in up in a tree and nervously flew as I approached, alerting me to its presence. It would not normally be up there in these weather conditions. I failed to find the second owl.

Whilst looking around, I put up a Brown Hare, and managed to get a few distant shots. It always amazes me that they don't get their legs tangled up, especially when you look at the image below!

Brown Hare
This next one looks as if the hare is flying - it certainly appears to be some distance off the ground!

Brown Hare
I only include this next one because I've never really thought that hares had much of a tail, but this image shows that it's got quite a substantial tail!

Brown Hare
I guess that this post, to some extent, reinforces the 'Never Give Up' message of my previous post.

I've since spoken with Leicestershire's owl guru, Paul Riddle, who has given me hope that the Little Owls may have come out of the intruder situation unscathed. I re-visited again yesterday (Tuesday 8th) and there was no sign of the Barn Owl, but one of the Little Owls was on the sunny side of the barn, sheltering from the cold easterly blast. I shan't be happy, however, until I see two owls here again.

24 comments:

  1. A nice story line here Richard and accompanying some even nicer images of the Barn Owl, and as far as I'm concerned the Yellowhammer about which you say 'were everywhere'. Not everywhere in our area of North Lancashire and beyond in fact pretty close to extinct in some.

    You said it again 'never give up' and I'm saying it again too 'keep on keeping on' Richard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Pete. It's usual for me to see between 15 and 40 Yellowhammer each time I visit this location. I didn't count them but this time it must have been nearer that top figure.

      Delete
  2. Oh dear! I understand your concern for the 2 Little Owls... I hope you manage to spot them both soon!
    Well done for the Yellowhammer, a beautiful looking bird I have never seen.
    The Barn owl seems in great shape, that's also a great catch!
    And the hare, quite rare to manage pics like these!
    Well done, a very interesting post!
    Cheers, Richard!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your very kind words of encouragement, Noushka, which are always very much appreciated!

      Delete
    2. :-)!!
      You're welcome my friend!
      Thanks for your words on my blog... you've got a good memory!
      No alas I haven't seem this specific individual around any more.

      Delete
    3. Sorry to hear you've not seen the wounded Red Kite lately. Please let us know if it shows up.

      Delete
  3. Another great post, Richard. I hope you spot the other Little Owl soon! I'm like you, didn't realize the hare had that much tail!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Wally. I'm off to do my first turn of duty of the season on Osprey Watch at Rutland Water tomorrow. We've got three birds back already!

      Delete
  4. A brilliant day to go out, and you caught the Yellowhammer, the Barn Owl and especially the Hare, well done Richard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Bob. Pleased to see that you're managing to get out and about a bit, in spite of the lousy weather.

      Delete
  5. The yellowhammer is so bright and colorful. Wonderful images of him and the barn owl. Hope your weather conditions improve so you can get out more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Gail. I've just seen your wonderful Barred Owl images on your blog at http://louisianabelleforever.blogspot.co.uk/. Fabulous!!!

      Delete
  6. Fingers crossed for the second LO. I do like the yellowhammer images, fantastic light on them sadly they always seem very keen to flee/fly from me too easily.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Doug. The only places I've found relatively confiding Yellowhammers are Cannock Chase, and (occasionally) Oakthorpe Colliery (just up the road from me).

      Delete
  7. Those hare shots are really great. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Gary. I usually find these difficult to photograph as they move so quickly, but I was lucky as the light from the snow meant my camera was set for a fairly fast shutter speed.

      Delete
  8. What a brilliant post, starting off with my fav the Yellowhammer - love it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Dave. Yes, I too am fond of Yellowhammers - even the less colourful female is a little beauty!

      Delete
  9. Barn Owls are great. I used to spend the weekends at a house in Ulverston in Cumbria - they used to hunt in the fields behind it. I never got tired of watching them!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, they are fabulous to watch. However, it's getting a bit harder to see one these days, not helped by them having suffered badly in the harsh weather of recent years.

      Delete
  10. Great post mate and hopefully ALL the owls will be OK? As for your Barnie images, very atmospheric I really like them but for me the Yellowhammer images are brill!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Paul. I must confess to being rather selfish in my concern for the Little Owls. I'd not really thought of the possibility that the Barnie could have been in trouble, and certainly the survival and welfare of a Barn Owl is far more important than that of a Little Owl, and this weather is also more of a threat to the Barnie. Thank you for putting my thoughts in order!

      Delete

I'm pleased to report that the anonymous spam problem seems to be solvable without using word verification. I'm now just using the 'Registered Users - includes OpenID' option in Blogger settings, and I'm not getting any spam - touch wood! I've also not received any contact from people saying that they are no longer able to make comments.