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Friday, 13 November 2015

I HAVE The Foggiest Idea! - on 2nd November, 2015

I woke up to a very foggy morning, looked at the weather forecast and found that it was going to stay that way all day, so resigned myself to a day indoors - but that resignation did not last too long!

I remembered that, way back in December 2010, I'd been out owling when suddenly a blanket of freezing fog descended. It was time to go home! I'd only been going for about 20 minutes. taking a route that I don't usually take when, through the fog, I noticed a familiar shape on the apex of a roof. I'd found a new Little Owl site (No.16)! An image from that encounter appears in the header to my blog whilst this post is current.

My mind was made up - today I'll go out in the fog and investigate whether the Little Owls tend to stay tucked up in their cosy nest holes when fog descends!

The first site I reached was No.22. I've only seen an owl here twice, and each time it was on the top of the same telegraph pole - today I couldn't even see the top of the pole!

Next was No.47, where we're pretty certain that the owls have gone, so no surprise that nothing was seen here either.

At No.44, where it had been seven weeks since we'd seen a bird, one was showing in the nest tree - Bingo!!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.44
Next was No.46, but I couldn't even see the nest tree through the fog!

I was very lucky, however, at No. 41. Since a third bout of severe damage to the nest tree, we'd only been getting sightings in a nearby hawthorn, and we hadn't seen two birds here since mid-July. I arrived and saw a bird in the hawthorn, but didn't go for a photo as I was in the wrong car to drive into the field. I then noticed a second bird in the entrance to the old nest hole in the original nest tree!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.41
Continuing my travels, I could vaguely see site No.23, but no birds were visible. Nothing was visible at No.40, but we've not seen a bird here since June, and I couldn't see site No.51 through the fog.

At No.34 I couldn't make up my mind whether I was seeing a bird or not, and as the bird(s?) here have only just returned after being evicted by Stock Doves, I wasn't going to risk disturbing them by getting closer. My viewing point for No.36 is at exactly the same location, but I couldn't see the nest tree at all! 

Nothing was visible a few hundred metres down the road at No.43, so I continued to No.42. Here I could vaguely see the site, but would only have seen an owl if it had sat on the apex of the roof. It didn't! It was now getting gloomier, and time to head home.

On the way back, I stopped to have another look at No.43, but nothing was visible. I was just about to set off again, when one popped its head out of a hole in the hawthorn. It was, by now, just far too gloomy for a photo, however.

I ended the day well-pleased with the results. It proved to me that, whilst fog might make things difficult for the owls, it didn't deter them from coming out. Furthermore, this was my first 4-owl day since mid-September! 

It also proved that it's worthwhile attempting to take photos in the fog. Whilst I've purposely left the above images in the 'as taken' state in order to convey the conditions, I have also done adjusted versions, below. The light was bad enough that I had to take rather a lot of images in order to get one without handshake, but the last one makes it worthwhile for me.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.44
Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.41
Maybe it's about time I became an 'all weather birder'?

Take good care if you too decide to go birding in the fog. Thank you for dropping by.

22 comments:

  1. These are wise comments about the weather Richard. Obviously some conditions are better than others, and certainly more amenable to human sensibilities, but birds are always present whatever the conditions. I remember well some of these sites!

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    1. Sadly, David, a few of the sites from the day that we three had 'the perfect ten' have now gone sterile. We'll not give up on them, however (apart from those where the site has become unihabitable)!

      I'm pleased to report that I've probably found a new site (but very inconvenient to observe!), and yesterday an owl was seen at a site where we last saw one in December 2013!

      Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

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  2. Nice to see you back with the little chaps,great pics.
    John.

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    1. Thanks, John. Hopefully some more owl images before too long!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  3. I just delight in following someone who not only loves owls but can seemingly get pictures of them. Bloody amazing but I do like the dedication. I don't like the new header......weeks of foggy weather here.

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    1. I'm hoping for some sub-zero sunny days without wind before too long, Adrian. Can't do with dull, damp, windy days, even if it is warm - ish.

      Looking forward to you getting out in the field soon - - - Richard

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  4. Nah fair weather birding is much more enjoyable and a lot warmer too :-) 10 out of 10 for venturing out in the fog you were rewarded with some interesting images. The fog definitely gives them an atmosphere. I found this via Twitter the other day (you may have to cut/paste the link it makes for very interesting yet sadly familiar reading http://www.littleowlproject.uk/index.php?x=22

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    1. I hadn't realised that project had been revived, Doug. I sent in a a few sighting reports in its early days, then I got cold feet about it (as did Paul R.). It then seemed to stall completely, with nothing being done by Emily Joachim for months.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  5. Birds are there no matter what weather we find ourselves in. Like Adrian I do not like yout header. You have wonderful photographs of Owls so why not show them on the header. I am so glad you are so dedicated to monitor all the owls at these sites. Have a lovely weekend.

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    1. Thank you for your comments, Margaret.

      The header is there because it's 'part of the story' for this post. I felt it was more important to have a header that was relevant, rather than something that was pretty. It will only be there for the duration of this post, but I can't promise that the replacement will be all sunshine and comfortable!

      I used to leave the same header in place for months on end, until I came to the conclusion that a frequent change of header would be more interesting. For a while I used to put up a header that gave a clue to what my next post would be about, but then decided that it was more pertinent to use one that reflected the content of the post.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  6. Hello Richard, so lovely to see the Litlle owls and despite the fog you managed to find them and capture them. Great photos!
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. Thank you, Roos. I was very pleased that I went out that day.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  7. You did better than we did on a fair day last Thursday, images are really very good for saying how foggy it was. Again well done with getting such good results.
    John

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    1. Thanks, John. The only sensible images that I came back with from Thursdsay were of the Kestrel. Sorry it didn't switch to your side of the car!

      See you soon - - Richard

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  8. Those are great photos. I do not think you would get me out birding in foggy weather. I hate winter full stop, and only an emergency gets me outside. Think I lived too long in Africa to appreciate the European winter!! Have a good weekend Diane

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    1. I'm none too fond of winter myself, Diane, but the owls give me an incentive to get out, particularly if it's a nice crisp sunny day. I can see it would be a bit of a shock to the system to move from Africa to Europe!

      Take good care, and dont get too housebound! - - - Richard

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  9. Well done Richard, rich reward for braving those conditions. And as you said, it was well worth attempting some images as the last one in this set is a belter!!!!!

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

      My very best wishes - - - Richard

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  10. Lovely to see our friends the Little Owls :-) I remember going to Poole park one foggy day and threw some bread for the ducks and threw some up in the air for the Black-headed seagulls, it was quite eerie seeing these seagulls flying around us through the fog, one of those moments in life that has stuck in my mind.

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    1. Sounds quite eerie, Linda. No wonder it's stuck in your mind!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  11. Hi Richard,
    I really do appreciate these pics in the fog, I think it adds a certain mystery to the birds!
    Considering they breed where it is the most suitable, I guess it makes sense that they occupy a nest site for some time and move on to another when needed.
    Spotting the birds in different locations will keep you "on your toes", LOL!
    A great post :)
    Hugs to share with Lindsay

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    1. Hi Noushka. How wonderful to hear from you!

      I'm already looking for new sites and relocated birds. I just wish the weather would be a whole lot better. The problem at the moment is very high winds and rain. I'm expecting to go out tomorrow and find at least one of my owl nest sites destroyed.

      Thank you for your kind words. Take good care. We're thinking of you - - - Richard

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