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Friday, 29 August 2014

New Little Owl Site No.48 (feat. The Phantom Raspberry Blower) - August, 2014

In my last blog post relating to owls I mentioned some Little Owls (Athene noctua) which Titus and I had found, following a tip-off from the local farmer. We'd seen two juveniles at this location, and as it was only approximately 600 metres away from my Site No.41, we were reasonably confident that these were dispersed juveniles from that site. Within a few hours of publishing that post we'd changed our minds! The story will unfold!

In 14th August, immediately after publishing that post, I headed over to Titus's place and we set off on our usual owling route. We soon diverted to where the juvenile LOs had been seen and, almost immediately spotted one in the fork of a tree, which was joined just a short while later by its sibling.

Little Owls (Athene noctua) (juvenile) - my new Site No.48
Soon one of the young owls got bold and popped up onto an exposed branch to have a better look at the piece of machinery (Titus's car!) which had stopped by their tree.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile No.1) - my new Site No.48
It didn't stay long before it headed off down the fence line. Then juvenile No.2 dropped down onto the gate beside us! I'll apologise here and now for the lack of variety of locations in the multitudinous images  in this post. For me, the beauty is in the poses and expressions of these wonderful creatures. There's also some feet in there for the benefit of Doug and Noushka!



Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile No.2) - my new Site No.48
Juvenile No.2 then moved along the top bar of the gate and started playing with some blue baling twine. Titus and I couldn't stop chuckling as it did so!




Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile No.2) - my new Site No.48
Meanwhile, juvenile No.1 had started making its way back up the fence line. It spent a short while preening before heading off and ending up in a place where we could see it, but photography was impossible

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile No.1) - my new Site No.48
We'd started to wonder about some LO calls that we were hearing but which sounded rather 'adult' and not quite in the direction of the juveniles were were observing ( I often find it difficult to pinpoint the direction of owl calls - possibly due to the hearing aids that I wear these days). Suddenly Titus spotted the owl, well hidden behind some leaves. With a bit of manoeuvring, neck craning, and luck with the wind on the leaves, a shot was managed of an adult owl. It was at this point we realised that we almost certainly had a new LO site, and not dispersed juveniles from Site No.41.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my new Site No.48
The young owls seemed to respond to the calls of the adult, and suddenly beetled off home, and we decided that it was time to go.

The following day I was on duty on the LROS stand at Birdfair. On my way home from that event, I called in at No.48 again, and was rewarded with the sight of one of the juveniles. At first it seemed quite lively. I particularly like the first image which reminds me of a heraldic 'lion rampant'



Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile) - my new Site No.48
After this, the bird got decidedly sleepy. The following, in the sequence in which they were taken, shows what I mean! I just wish the feet had been visible!








The very last shot that I fired off that day, has to be one of my favourites of all time, and is the subject matter of the sub-title of this post. I give you, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Phantom Raspberry Blower!  (sorry if the expression is lost on my overseas readers - click here to help with your understanding)

The Phantom Raspberry Blower
Subsequent visits have confirmed the 'new site' status, but I think that's enough of Little Owls for one post! The area looks to be promising in other respects too. The next image was taken less than 100 metres from the nest tree.

(Northern) Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) - by my LO Site No.48
Thank you for dropping by. There'll probably be more owls in my next post - the hint is in the current header image!

16 comments:

  1. Unless some of your foreign readers are anglophiles I can see much confusion with the Phantom Raspberry blower lol. What a fantastic image. I have to complain that some of the feet shot have only one foot in them and I am not happy :-)
    The Wheatear is gorgeous with some lovely tones

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    1. You're right, Doug! I've now added in a link to the Two Ronnies sketch!!

      Sorry if I've fallen short of expectations on the foot front. I'll try and do better next time!

      I was rather pleased to get that Wheatear in that position. Sometimes luck is on one's side!

      Sorry to hear that you're working over the next few days. Hopefully it'll be even better weather after Tuesday.

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  2. ummmm... WOW. You must be in heaven to be able to observe these little guys like this. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful images!

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    1. Thank you 'CabinGirl'. It's not very often that I get an opportunity as good as these two sessions, and when I do, it's a real privilege to be able to watch these wonderful birds at such close quarters without causing them any concerns. If I can convey something of the character of the birds with my images, so that other people can also have a greater understanding of them, I'll be more than happy!

      I can't let this opportunity pass without saying how much in awe I am of your amazing work in the rehabilitation of wildlife. You and the team do an absolutely wonderful job for which we should all thank you. To my other readers - if you've not yet come across the wondeful work that 'CabinGirl' and her team do, please take a look through the link at the head of her comment.

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  3. Lovely little balls of fluff,amazing detail in your outstanding photography.
    Also what a brilliant wheatear image,just stunning.
    John.

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    1. Thank you, John. It's difficult to go wrong when the birds are so obliging! Unfortunately, opportunities like this don't come too often.

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  4. Opportunities taken to the full Richard. Little Owl images don't come better than these I can assure you....a brilliant set.

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    1. You're too kind, Pete. Whilst I'm delighted with these images, I must strive to do better. I've yet to achieve reasonable flight shots of these wonderful birds!

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  5. What can I say, Richard? This whole sequence is simply amazing. Your affection for, and dedication to, Little Owls comes across in every post you make about them. I can hardly wait until next year. Sorry to be a little tardy in replying to your last email, but I'll be in touch this weekend. Things have been a little hectic around here.

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    1. Thank you for your very kind words, David. I'm just hoping that all goes well, and that I'll be able to introduce you to some of my owls - nothing is guaranteed!

      No need for an apology - I'm currently experiencing 'hectic' too!

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  6. This is a joy for my eyes to see these loveley photos of the Little Owls. And how Lucky you are to meet such frendly farmers to invite you to come and have a closer look at them.

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    1. Thank you, Roos. I think that I am very lucky too. Some farmers are very pleased to have me on their land as I always have my camera and it's another pair of eyes to watch for problems. I've been pleased to be able to help the farmer at this particular site when he's had a couple of emergency situations. Some farmers just don't want to know, however!

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  7. Another one of your great posts, Richard!
    Like David, what can I say??
    Well for one, your pictures are all fabulous and some really made giggle too!
    Site N°48 is really special! :)
    I did "click here" aqnd had another good laugh with the Phantom Raspberry Blower, a sketch you made me discover!
    Oh, and as for the "foot fetishists" that we are, we were well served! LOL!!
    I envy David to come next year.............. wish I could!!!

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    1. Thank you for your very kind words, Noushka. I'm so pleased that I can give you a chuckle!

      Maybe one day I'll be able to show you some Little Owls. However, close encounters like those illustrated in this post don't happen very often, so I could never promise a photo opportunity. None of the shots that I take are staged - it's just a case of putting myself in the right place at the right time. I never try to attract or influence the owls by feeding them. I haven't yet set up artificial perches anywhere, although I might one day. The only way I ever try and influence a bird's actions is by making a small noise to try and get the bird to look at me for the photo!

      My best wishes - - Richard

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  8. Another superb post buddy, really like your "blowing a raspberry" image but for me I think the new header is a stunner, great stuff!

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    1. Thank you, Paul. It's good to hear from you again. Delighted to see that you've not lost your touch with the owls!

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