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Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Getting Ready For The Mating Season - February/March, 2014

No, not me, but the Little Owls! It's at about this time of year that the Little Owls start showing themselves as pairs more often than is usual. I guess it's a sort of bonding thing, just before the mating season starts. Those that are not paired-up become more vocal as they seek a mate. This is a great time to see LOs as the leaves are not on the trees. Later, whilst the females are brooding the eggs, the males will be busy foraging for food, but then things get a little more difficult as the leaves tend to hide them from view. The next really good opportunities (hopefully!) come when the young owls start to fledge.

Sadly, I've not been able to make the most of the past month, for various reasons, not the least of which was a major glitch on my PC's file management system which resulted in my Nikon software crashing every time I tried to work on raw files that had been newly loaded onto my PC. Previously worked-on raw files were no problem! In the end the problem was solved by running a file system repair tool.

Anyway, I have been able to get out owling a few times, and even found a new Little Owl site. I've also managed to locate the actual nest cavity of the previous site that I'd found.

One of my most recent LO sites (No.44) is pretty much a sure-fire bet for spotting one or more of the owls. The nest tree is close to the road, where it is possible to park without causing significant disruption to the sparse traffic. The only problem is that the light is always virtually directly behind the owls when I visit. I'm hoping that an early start in a few weeks time might just give me an opportunity with a little more favourable lighting. Here's a few from No.44.





Little Owls - my Site No.44
Site No.41, where the nest tree was destroyed in a gale last year, also continues to give reliable sightings, although at a great distance. The birds have tended to keep to the opposite side of the field to the original nest tree in which we put up an owl box. However, we've had reports of them spending more time near the original nest tree, although I've not seen it for a long while. Here's one of them in their favourite tree for roosting in when there's a west wind blowing.

Little Owls - my Site No.41
Another recent site (No.43) where, for a while, only one bird was showing, turned up trumps in mid-February when two birds were seen together. Remarkably this location is only approximately 200 metres from my Site No.34, which also has two birds present.

Little Owls - my Site No.43
My new LO Site, No.46, was found on 20th February, and re-confirmed on 27th. Unfortunately the nest tree is approximately 70 metres from the road, and access for closer photography looks as if it is going to be difficult, if not impossible.



Little Owls - my new Site No.46
My first ever Little Owl site (No.01) was found in 2009, and went 'sterile' after only three sightings. However, my LO Site No.02, also found in 2009, has remained a source of great pleasure to me over the years, although I'm sure that one of the birds is not of the original pair. I'll ask you to forgive me for, once again, using an image from this site as my header, and publishing another one below, both taken on 26th February.

Little Owl - my Site No.02
Hopefully the other issues in my life will settle down this month and I'll get in a bit more owling. Until the next time - have a great time in the great outdoors, and don't forget to connect with nature!

24 comments:

  1. One of the things I like about the Lo at site02 is the old building a great image, however I really like the LO at rest/asleep.

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    1. Thanks, Doug. For me, this year's challenge is going to be trying to get images from Site No.02 that are a little different, although the old building is very attractive. It's decaying bit by bit but, thankfully, not too fast at the moment.

      It's a good feeling when you're with owls that are relaxed enough with your presence that they feel that they can grab some shuteye!

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  2. Again, I love that you keep track of these sites and watch over them...as it were. I hope they have lots of little owls this spring. Such sweet faces.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Chris.

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  3. Not sure what gives with my computer but only one of your photos, the first one, is showing up. The rest are little square blobs. I heard the Little Owls calling tonight but it was too dark to see anything :-( have a good evening Diane

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    1. Pleased to hear your computer has sorted itself out, Diane!

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  4. Richard, I continue to be impressed with your ability to locate and document these owls. It is little short of remarkable and the pictures are quite wonderful. I will look forward to the next instalment!

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    1. Thank you, David, for your kind words of encouragement.

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  5. Hi Richard. I hope your issues will be resolved soon. Glad you got out to check on all the Owl sites. Your photographs of them are wonderful. great to have found a new site.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Margaret. Hoping for some progress today.

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  6. Returned this morning and everything has loaded perfectly, fabulous photos and so pleased that you managed to get out and check the sites. Have a good day Diane

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    1. Thank you Diane. These computers are great when they're working, but a real worry when they through a wobbly!!

      Thank you for your kind comments - take good care of yourself!

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  7. Great shots Richard,these are your reward for the hard work you put in.
    Well impressed.
    John.

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    1. Thank you, John. However, I feel that I'm not doing as much as I should do, with too many distractions at the moment.

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  8. A terrific report, Richard! Looks like things are progressing for a successful breeding season for your owls! Good show on locating a new nesting site! That far off the road sounds like it was a challenge to spot.

    Here in central Florida, we've located three Great Horned Owl nests and one has an owlet we spotted yesterday. We've been able to hear four sets of calling Eastern Screech Owls and have found five Barred Owls (but no nests yet).

    Spring is here!

    All the best, Wally.

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    1. Thank you, Wally. It does look promising for a good breeding season, unless the weather throws a curved ball at us.

      I'm very impressed, and more than a little envious, with your own owl sightings! I'm looking forward to reading all about it and seeing your superb photography.

      Today's weather has been wondefully warm and sunny here, and Spring really has arrived. I noticed, today, that our garden hedgehog has come out of hibernation.

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  9. Another super post Richard, some cracking images too!

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Paul. Much appreciated.

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  10. Great blog and wonderful photos!!! Greetings/ Michał and Piotr from Poland

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Michał and Piotr. I'm trying to work out how to follow your own excellent blog!

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  11. Hi Richard! We have added the link to your wonderful blog to our blog :-) Translator already works well :-) Best regards!

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    1. Thank you, Michał and Piotr. I have added a link to your superb blog on my blog also.

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  12. Great observation work again Richard!
    I sincerely hope they will all breed successfully this season!
    About Site No 46, if it is difficult to get close without disturbing the birds, why not set a natural looking hide close by in which you could slip in early morning?
    Enjoy this gorgeous weather!

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    1. Thank you Noushka. On Monday I was given (limited) permission to set up my portable hide in the field. I was not too ambitious as I didn't know how the birds would react to it so positioned it about 30 metres off. Fortunately, neither was out whilst I set up. An owl appeared at one of the nest holes about 10 minutes later, stayed for about an hour (during which time it went to sleep) and then popped back into the tree. I used this as an opportunity to leave unobserved. As the owl didn't seem to give a hoot that I was there, I had intended to visit again about a week later and set up closer and at a different angle. However, when I visited the area on Thursday it appeared that a couple of Kestrels had taken over the tree for nesting in. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the owls haven't been driven out, but I fear the worst!

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