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Sunday, 8 September 2013

Owling Again - late August and early September, 2013

In my last post, I said that it was time I got back to the owls. However, it's not been that easy finding them. It would seem that the few juveniles that I'm aware of this year have now dispersed and that the parents are now enjoying a lazy time and not coming out so much.

My latest Little Owl site (No.41) continues to be relatively reliable for sightings of a single bird. However, finding it in a photographable location is trickier. It is usually well away from the road, and it doesn't have a favourite perch so setting up the hide and waiting isn't really an option, particularly as there are sheep and cattle in the field where it's most usually found! On 15th August, on our way to Rutland Water, I found the owl in a tree on the far side of the field.

Little Owl - my Site No.41
I tried a stealthy approach, but it wasn't having it!

On our way back from Rutland Water, when it was dark, I spotted a Little Owl on a gate a couple of hundred metres from the nest tree of my Site No.29. It didn't stop there long, but flew up into a tree. I could only manage a silhouette image, but I was pleased to have this sighting as it's the first for this site since 2nd May, in spite of passing quite frequently - and it hasn't been seen since.

Little Owl - my Site No.29
The following day (August 16th) I was back at Rutland Water again. This time, not as part of my Osprey duties, but on duty on the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society (LROS) stand at Birdfair. As I returned in the late afternoon a Little Owl was out at Site No.41 again - this time on the gutter of a barn.

Little Owl - my Site No.41
My attempt at a stealthy approach failed again as it flew when I was a long way away - but it flew towards me and landed in a bush! This time I wasn't going to disturb it further, and left it there.

Little Owl - my Site No.41
On 22nd August I had an evening out with my pal Titus White. Between us we managed three owls only. At my LO Site No.03 we couldn't see an owl from the road, so I went off to a position for which I've got permission to visit whenever I like. From here I could clearly see an owl in the distance. Try as I could, I could not see it when I got back to the road, so Titus missed out as the permission didn't include other persons! - Sorry pal!

Little Owl - my Site No.03
Titus got his own back a short while later. We'd stopped on the road by my LO Site No.17, again where I've got permission to roam at will. I saw the farmer three fields away making his way towards us, and went to clear it with him to show Titus around - no problem! I went back for Titus who told me that a LO had been put up by the farmer and briefly landed on the roof of the nest building! We didn't find it again!

Later, we stopped briefly by my LO Site No.16, where I've not seen an owl for almost two years. Nothing was visible but, as I moved off, Titus said "quick, go back!".  I was just in time to see a Barn Owl  fly out of the farm yard!

Even sightings of LO on my local patch have become a little sporadic with, perhaps, one in four visits resulting in a sighting. This owl was there when I arrived on 5th September, and it was still there when I left!


Little Owl - my Site No.02
In the afternoon of that same day I was out with Titus again. Only two owls were seen - a Barn Owl late in the evening (too dark for a photo), and a LO at Site No.41 again!

Little Owl - my Site No.41
It's good to be back with the owls again, even if I'm not getting too many sightings!

38 comments:

  1. Surely our most photogenic of the owls - and always perfectly illustrated in their natural habitat - of which you achieve excellent results....A delight to view Richard.

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    1. Thank you for your very kind owrds, Pete.

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  2. I agree. It's been too long since I have seen one. I have been looking, but I could only turn up one Great Horned Owl last month during the second week. Still your finds are great. Today I was searching for several owls in a canyon area....didn't turn any up...but a Montezuma Quail did:)

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    1. Thank you Chris. I don't suppose that I'll ever see a Great Horned Owl(except in captivity, sadly), but I'd love to! I didn't know of a Montezuma Quail, but I've looked it up and it seems that you've had a good find of a not-too-common bird!!

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    2. Those Montezuma Quail is a very quiet and elusive bird just like our owls. They are all around, but well hidden in the canyons along dry creek beds. Tricky little birds to get on camera!

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    3. Pleased to see you found a Barn Owl, Chris. Wishing you all the best - Richard

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  3. HI Richard Great shots of the LO and I loved readig about what lenghts yu go to see and shot them.

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    1. Thank you Margaret. I'm pleased that you enjoyed the read!

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  4. Great images Richard. Is it me (as mine seem to behaving the same) or are LO's this autumn behaving slightly different. Mine seem to be coming out later or not visible at usual spots etc. Obviously not appearinbg on the same perches prevents them from getting predated but mine just don't seem to be showing in the same manner as previous years....could just be me of course lol

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    1. Thanks Doug.

      I started keeping records at the beginning of 2010, and this August was by far my worst for Little Owl sightings. In Aug. 2011 and 2012 I saw more than three times as many birds as this year! This is, I believe, largely due to a shortage of breeding this year. When they have young the adults are far more visible as they forage for food, and then the young fledge and they boost the numbers. At my sites, it just didn't happen this year! September is usually a fairly poor month for me for LO sightings, as they do seem to hide away more, but this September, again, looks like it's going down the pan even further than usual!

      I'm convinced that the extended winter caused the demise of a large percentage of the birds. Coupled with it being a bad year for breeding (possibly due to a combination of weakened birds and a shortage of food - worms were difficult to access because of ground that was too wet, and then too dry), the prospects of the population recovering quickly don't look too promising.

      Let's hope that this coming winter is kinder to our feathered friends - and all the other wildlife out there too!

      Best wishes - Richard

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  5. Looks like your hard work has paid off Richard,superb as always.
    The two images from No 2 site are amazing,but my favourite is your first shot,had to look twice,well concealed
    John.

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    1. Thank you John. That first one is one of my favourites too. I thought that I'd failed miserably until I came to review what I'd taken and did some serious cropping!

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  6. Great series of shots - I really like these owls.

    I may have to get some advice about owl sites to help me plan a trip back to the UK next year!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Thank you Stewart. I'm hoping that we can meet up when you come to UK.

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  7. They're beauties!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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    1. Thank you Gary. Best wishes to you and Boom.

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  8. Wow....

    Stunning images of a diamond bird. I have a pair on my local patch that give me hours of enjoyment. Your new header image is wonderful.

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    1. Thank you Dave. I'm very lucky to have the 'header' birds on my local patch!

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  9. Your Little Owls are adorable. Wonderful photos, thanks for sharing.

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  10. Wonderful shots Richard, I love your owls!

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    1. Thank you Karen. Nothing puts a smile on my face better than a good owl sighting!

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  11. Yay! More Little Owl images! I'm completely fascinated by these birds. Maybe some day I'll get to see one in the wild. In the meantime I'm greatly enjoying your posts :-)

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  12. They're beautiful birds. I love seeing your owls.

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  13. I really enjoyed your report, Richard!

    In our area of central Florida, the owls have dispersed since breeding is done and are quieter than other times of the year so it's a challenge to locate them. We had one calling Eastern Screech owl a couple of days ago. Our state's 5-year breeding census is in its second year and is turning up a better population of Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia)locally than we expected.

    Wonderful photos of your Little Owls!

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    1. Thank you Wally. It seems our Little owls are closely related to your Burrowing Owls.

      I'm still not able to connect with your own blog - unless it's 'Our Florida Journal'. If it's that, I'm extremely impressed, but can't see how to make a comment on it!

      Best wishes - Richard.

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  14. These are spectacular, what a splendid series of images showing this adorable chap. Loved them all very much.
    Sorry for my tardiness. Monday my bad knee gave way to a full Medial Meniscus tear and I am having Arthroscope done to help ease pain this Tuesday...doing life ;)

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    1. Thank you Mary. My very best wishes for the knee surgery on Tuesday!

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  15. Lovely photos of these cute little faces!
    When I think I have to go to Spain to see them... :(
    Hey.... and where the feet??!! LOL!
    OK, I see one on the last pic!!!
    Enjoy your sightings, Richard and your sunday!

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    1. Thank you Noushka.

      Sadly our Sunday is turning out to be rather cold, a bit wet, and extremely wind!!

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    2. Hi again Richard,
      Thanks for your lengthy reply... about the snake, it makes many common passions that we share then!! ;-)
      Yes, I guess the weather is quite wet in England, we were lucky enough to have the depression go through here last night... Although t is wet and cold in the woods, at least the sun is out between the clouds!
      Cheerio, enjoy your evening!

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  16. I hear the Little Owls here so often but I so seldom see them. One day maybe I will be lucky to get a photo. Keep well Diane

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    1. Best wishes for you getting a photo, Diane. Good luck!

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