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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Missin' the Bleedin' Obvious!! - on 26th June, 2014

The afternoon of Thursday 26th June saw pal Titus and I heading off for another turn of duty on the Osprey Project at Rutland Water. These days we usually manage to see a few Little Owls en route and I'd spotted a LO on my local patch on my way to Titus's place, so had a head start.

Our first sighting together was at my latest site, No. 47. Here, for the first time, we saw two birds. I'd only ever photographed birds here on two previous occasions and I can see now that, on each of those occasions, I'd seen different birds. The light for the first image was appalling!

Little Owl (1) - my Site No.47

Little Owl (2) - my Site No.47
Disappointingly, no owls were seen at LO sites No.44 (usually very reliable) and 46. However, as we approached site No.41 I spotted a Little Owl on a distant barn roof. We stopped, and as I turned to ask Titus, who was driving, if he could move forward a little, I noticed a Little Owl sitting on a bit of dead tree branch, level with Titus's shoulder and at about 2 metres distance from his shoulder!!! Titus hadn't even got his window open for a shot. By the time that Titus had spotted it and wound his window down it had flown back to a distance of about 10 metres away. I tried to shoot between Titus's head and the door pillar and this is all I managed.

Little Owl (2) - my Site No.41
And this was the owl that distracted us from spotting the Bleedin' Obvious!

Little Owl (2) - my Site No.41
I have to confess that, for the rest of the afternoon, I rather relentlessly ribbed Titus about missing the owl. Particularly as this was the closest that either of us had been to a wild adult Little Owl.

We didn't spot any owls at Site No. 34 which was disappointing as we'd seen two juveniles here a few days earlier. However, from the same vantage point, we did see an adult bird at Site No.36.

Spirits were raised again when, as we approached Site No.42, I spotted a juvenile LO on the end wall of the barn that the birds sometimes roost in. Sightings here are extremely sporadic, and the owls are the least confiding of any Little Owl that I've encountered. As I watched, the owlet dropped out of view. I did manage some distant images, but we couldn't stop as we were on a bend in a busy and fast road. For reasons that will become apparent, I'm leaving it until later in this post before I show the image.

It was now time for us to get to Rutland Water. We managed to fit in a quick visit to Shallow Water Hide, where a pair of Great Crested Grebe were mating.

Great Crested Grebe - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
It's been a strange year for the Manton Bay Ospreys, with no offspring in the bay. Today, the Ospreys were a bit more active than they had been of late, albeit at a distance.

Osprey - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
It was still daylight at the end of our evening duty, and we retraced our steps towards home. Having pulled onto the grassy knoll from which we observe Little Owl Site No.42, I started to scan the usual roosting places whilst Titus made a phone call to his wife. The owls here are usually only seen from around 100 metres distance, and scarper as soon as one gets out of the car. Whilst I was busy scanning, Titus tapped me on the shoulder and pointed. There was one of the owls on a footpath sign only about 8 metres from us! I didn't rib Titus about the owl at No.41 after that! - Bleedin' Obvious No.2, and Titus and I were even.

Little Owl - my Site No.42
I came to the conclusion that we'd visited most of these sites on numerous occasions, and were so used to the owls' favourite places that we always scanned these intently first, before looking elsewhere. It was a stark reminder that at this time of year, with young around, the owls become a lot less predictable.

Little Owls were seen at several other sites on our way home, including one at No.44, in the deepening gloom of the evening.

Little Owl - my Site No.44
The last known LO site on our route is my latest one - No.47. It was nearly fully dark as we approached and Titus and I had our eyes glued to the nest tree, which is the only place we've ever seen the owls. Suddenly, hitherto unseen, an owl flew up from the roadside sign about 4 metres from the car. Bleedin' Obvious No.3, and the score remained a draw.

Now for that promised image of the juvenile seen earlier, at the first visit to my Site No.42.

Little Owls - my Site No.42
It wasn't until I started to process my images the following day that I noticed that it wasn't just one juvenile Little Owl that we'd seen at my Site No.42 that afternoon, but two - and there'd been an adult on the roof too! Bleedin' Obvious No.4 - although I will say in our defence that we'd stopped at a dangerous point in the road, and had to get out of there fast, and all this was quickly grabbed at about 100 metres distance. All I'd seen was the left-hand juvenile. I'd not spotted the adult on the roof, or the pair of eyes peering over the brick beside the first juvenile.

Thank you for dropping by. I'm not sure what the next post will be, but it's sure to have an owl in it somewhere!


  1. Great images.
    What happen to the Osprey offspring is it the same birds that we saw on eggs in previous blogs?
    Now as for missing the obvious I saw the adult bird on the roof but missed the juvenile in the last image. It is pretty well hidden.

    1. Thanks, Doug.

      Sadly, only one of these two Ospreys is the same as the pair I previously showed on eggs on the nest. It's a long story, which I won't go into now, but hope to cover in a future post.

  2. your photographs of these Owls is amazing. They are so cute but really small that i think you do very well to spot them at all. Wonderful to get the shot of the G.C Grebes mating. great to get the Osprey shots.

    1. Thank you, Margaret. The Little Owls can be quite tricky to spot, particularly if they spot you first. Sometimes, however, they stick out like a sore thumb!

  3. Quite the story Richard. I never cease to be amazed a just how many Little Owls you see on a single outing. As for "missing the bleedin' obvious" there is not a birder among us who hasn't done that. It's kinda fitting that Tius got his own diig in too!

    1. Thank you David. I hope that the situation is as good (or better even!) when you visit next year. Unlike most of the other species of owl seen in the UK, Little Owls are lazy little blighters, and don't wander far from their homes unless forced to. Therefore, if you spot a Little Owl, the chances are that you'll be able to find it again, and again!

      Titus and I are still chuckling about that day!

  4. Hi Rich!
    First of all, congratulations for the picture of your new banner! Superb, one I would love to take one day ! :)
    And again this is a stunning report on your latest activities of LO and Osprey watching!
    You Titus are truly doing a great job even if you might miss some of the 'unpredictable" younsters LOL!
    Keep well!

    1. Thank you, Noushka.

      I consider it a very lucky day when I see a Barn Owl, and much luckier still if it's light enough to get a photo of it!

      Take good care of yourself - and your visitors next week !!

  5. Great post Richard,I love the second and third images,your Great Crested Grebes are delightful, i also missed the Juv in site 42 or should i say two Juvs,great spot guys.

    1. Thank you, John. I've forgiven myself for missing the birds in the last image, but I'm still cringing over the others!

  6. I'm relieved to read David is sympathetic to my failings in not spotting the little owl but must admit I could almost touch it with my white stick!!!!!

    1. Hi Titus. Good to hear from you. So when are we going to see your first Blogger post, in which you'll knock spots off my ownphotographic efforts? I warn you, I'll be adding a link to your blog when you're up and running!

  7. Oh well, they are stupendous, Little Owls, Ospreys and the Great Crested Grebes, magnificent photos you have taken.

  8. I wish the Little Owls were 'Bleedin' Obvious' around here ;-) I like the picture of the LO perched on the gutter.

    1. Thank you, Linda. Don't give up hope - you'll find one someday!


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