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Thursday, 14 August 2014

More Owls in July, 2014

I had, originally, intended for my next post to be on events and surprises in my garden in July, but I'm not quite ready with that yet as I'm trying to work out the best way to have video in a post - any hints and tips would be welcome! Instead, I'm back to my favourite subject - Owls!

On 26th July I had observed (at a considerable distance) the antics of juvenile Little Owls (Athene noctua) at my Site No.17. The following day (27th July) I was back, but this time with my portable hide which I set up at a range of about 15 metres from where I hoped the action would be.

I'd been there for about half an hour before the first owl appeared. It was an adult, which checked me out at from a tree at a distance of about 25 metres.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.17
This owl stayed put, barely moving a muscle but keeping and eye on me, before the first juvenile appeared some fifteen minutes later.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile No.1) - my Site No.17
I only had to wait another couple of minutes before the second juvenile appeared. This particular area of this site is very cluttered with unsightly dross. However, at this range, I managed to exclude most of it from the images. The upside to this area is that there are multitudinous places (mainly fence posts) for the owls to perch. In the images that follow, I've tried to show this variety of perches without too much repetition. Here's a couple of the second juvenile.


Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile No.2) - my Site No.17
It was only a few minutes after that that there was a call which heralded the arrival of the third juvenile. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get the three juveniles in one shot, and only managed a very poor image of two in one shot.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juveniles Nos.1&3) - my Site No.17
Juveniles Nos.1&2 departed, together with the adult bird, just leaving me in the company of No.3. I took many images over the next hour, and here are some from that session.









Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile No.3) - my Site No.17
At an appropriate moment I packed up my hide and departed.

One thing that this session brought home to me was that, although I usually don't get too bad results with a handheld camera if I take a lot, and discard the majority, I do much better if I'm in my hide and using a tripod. I just wish I had more opportunities to use the hide.

Thursday 31st July was quite an owly afternoon, out with pal Titus. It started off quite slowly, and without any useful images. However, on the way out, we'd briefly observed a juvenile Barn Owl (Tyto alba) in a tree that we'd previously seen an adult owl delivering prey to. As we passed in the car, it disappeared into the nest hole (which was well concealed, and we'd not previously located). On our return journey, I'm sure that we'd have missed the owls if we'd not known where to look. Here's a very heavily cropped image to give you an impression of how they were hidden.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) (2 x juveniles) - undisclosed site in Leicestershire
Moving a little further down the road, I managed a slightly clearer image, but they quickly disappeared into the nest hole. It's gratifying to know that these were exhibiting a good sense of self-preservation.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) (2 x juveniles) - undisclosed site in Leicestershire
Further on in our travels we found two juvenile Little Owls which we are reasonably confident are dispersed juveniles from my LO Site No.41. I only managed images of one of them.


Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile) - near my Site No.41
That's it for this post. Thank you for dropping by.

With luck my next post will be on my garden wildlife, including two garden 'lifers', one of which is a bit of a rarity for Leicestershire!

28 comments:

  1. Always nice when the owls play ball and land on a variety of perches, nice post mate with some more quality images.

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    1. Thank you, Paul. I hope you have a great weekend. Can we expect a blog post from you soon? I'm missing them!!

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    2. Fell out of love with blogging at the moment Richard, I'll be back soon though I'm sure!

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  2. Some brilliant images of the Little Owls, poses, expressions and all, difficult to select a favourite as they all win for me. Well done Richard.

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  3. Richard - I am sure that the whole world envies you this phenomenal success with owls. I know that I do, But wait a year from now I'll get my own chance to see some of these wonders!

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    1. Thank you, David. It bodes well for your visit next year - in just over four hours yesterday I saw fourteen Little Owls over eight locations! Possibly a record for me.

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  4. Absolutely brilliant images Richard. No sign of repetition at all. I do have my favourites though. Number 3 is just pure class, number 6 because of the "photobombing" Robin made me chuckle but I laughed at number 9 whose head was a bit too heavy for it.
    I'm guessing you're taking the Mickley out of Titus when you use Titus Alba rather than Tyto Alba:-)
    ps like the sprawk too

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    1. Thank you, Doug. I think I share your choice of favourites.

      Oops!!! This post was written in a hurry, and I must have been suffering brain-fade when I wrote 'Titus' - now corrected as are the instances of 'Athena', rather than 'Athene'.

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  5. Hi Richard! Excellent photos, so as always...
    We wish you a nice weekend and many interesting observations of birds and dragonflies :-)

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, gentlemen. Sorry not to have replied before now - it's been a crazy weekend!

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  6. Great post Richard,fall of outstanding captures.
    Great job.
    john.

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    1. Thank you, John. It's a great time to be out photographing the juveniles!

      Sorry I've not posted your comment and replied before now. It's been a hectic weekend with Birdfair and photography - yes, more juvenile LOs!

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  7. What a fabulous collection of photos, love the robin in the background and I do have a very soft spot as well for barn owls. I wish I could find where the Little Owl here is nesting here, but I cannot walk over people's property and my French is not good enough to ask :-(( Take care Diane

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    1. Thank you, Diane. You could always say "Je crois que vous avez les Chouettes d'Athena dans les parages de votre domaine. Est ce que possible, s'il vous plait, que j'examine la situation et faire la photographie?" I think that, although I've probably miss-spelled some of the words and missed off the accents, It'll probably get you understood. The trick, then, is to understand the answer!!!! I always start with. "Excusez moi, Monsieur/Madame, je suis (Anglais), et ma francaise est tres faible". It doesn't harm not to be word perfect, so that their expectectations aren't too high! Good luck!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  8. Brilliant captures of the Little Owls, comical as ever, and a lovely one of the Barn Owls.

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  9. Wonderful birds! I got great views of Barn Owl in Somerset during my recent UK trip, but no little owls.

    You win a prize for the best explanation of the mystery buttons!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Thank you, Stewart. I confess to being out of touch with your activities for some time, and it's only after you started posting about your English visit that I realised that you'd been here. If I'd known I'd have been delighted to introduce you to the Little Owls! Maybe the next time?

      Pleased that you liked my explanation ;-}

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  10. Oh WOW!!
    I don't think you can do any better than this Richard!
    A great post to discover as I return from Spain!
    Indeed, being in hide is best to leave the birds undisturbed especially if you come early in the morning before they are out, and taking a pics with a tripod gives far better results.
    But then remaining seated in a tent hide is painful for the back in the long run...
    Fantastic shots and sightings!
    Keep well!

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    1. Thank you for your, very kind words, Noushka

      My biggest problem with prolonged periods in the hide is all to do with bladder capacity! I use a small one-man chair hide, in which there is absolutely no room to manoeuvre, even to use a bottle, so I have to break cover every three hours or so! The other problem is that the chair-hide is so comfortable that I often go to sleep in it if nothing is happening!

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  11. PS:
    For the video, post it on U-Tube and copy the link in your post; don't forget to switch it to HTML when you copy the link.

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    1. Thank you for that, Noushka. I've now uploaded the video to YouTube and hope to do a post with it in later today.

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  12. What a wonderful post to enjoy with my coffee after returning from a 2200 mile excursion to Texas! All of the images and your great commentary really started my day with a smile, Richard!

    Love the Robin making a cameo appearance, two of the Little Owls in one frame and especially the Barn Owls. Saw my very first Barn Owl in our county a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, not able to get a photo. What amazing hunters!

    Thank you for a superb post!

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    1. Thank you so much, Wally, for your kind comments. It's great to have you back in Bloggerland, and your latest post is an inspiration! Thank you on that score too!

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    2. Great captures of these Little Owls.
      Here in Belgium and the Netherlands they are going trough hard time because there are not enough old barns etc left for them to make a nesting place.
      Luckely people are aware of this problem and start to place nestboxes for them.
      Not far from home I know of one Little owl without a partner.
      Hope he/she will find one to have a nest next spring.

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    3. Sorry to hear that Belgian Little Owls are going through difficult times, Roos. We're losing a lot of nesting sites here too. Part of it is due to the authorities demanding that, for 'health and safety' reasons, decaying trees (that owls could nest in) are cut down. It's also reached the point that old disused farm buildings are now decaying to the point of collapse, or are being converted into modern dwellings for humans.

      I wish you all the best for your local Little Owl, and hope it finds a mate without having to 'leave home' to do so.

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