Notes on Use of This Blog



1. With posts prior to 5th February, 2013 it is possible to see better quality enlarged images by clicking on the image. When finished, just click outside the enlarged image to return to the blog post.
With posts from 5th February, 2013 there is no advantage in doing this as the images are to the same size and definition.

2. I have a policy that I always reply to comments on my blog, even if it's just to say thank you.

3. Please don't submit comments that include your own web address. For obvious reasons, they will not be published.

4. I'm now on Twitter - @RichardPegler1

Saturday, 3 December 2016

November Little Owls - 2016

Some of my readers may recall that, in some of my previous posts this year, I've expressed concern at the plight of the Little Owls that I monitor. The year started well enough, and in February I had 27 sightings over 8 different sites. In March the number of sightings dropped to 17, over a slightly improved 9 different sites. Things continued to go downhill until the middle of the year, and I got more than a little despondent about the situation.

As autumn approached, there were signs that things were picking up, as were my spirits. I'm delighted to say that November has turned out to to be my best month so far in 2016. I've managed 32 sightings over 9 different sites.

This improvement is partly due to my renewed enthusiasm, and partly due to the leaves being off the trees! I'm sure the birds must have been there all the time - I saw virtually no evidence of breeding this year, so I'm unlikely to be seeing many 'new' birds. However, it's not all encouraging just yet. In recent months I'm only aware of pairs of birds at two of my sites.

Here's an update on November's Little Owls

LO Site No.02

The building that is the 'nest site' continues to decay at an alarming rate and I suspect that it is only a matter of time before it is vacated. Indeed, it may have already happened as, unusually, I've not seen an owl here for the last six visits (I pass by regularly). The last sighting was on 19th November.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 10th November, 2016
Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 16th November, 2016
Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 19th November, 2016

LO Site No.03

This site was believed to be abandoned after April, 2015, but was then found to be re-occupied during a chance visit on 30th September this year. Since then, I've visited a few times, and found it occupied on each occasion.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 6th November, 2016
How long this tenancy will last is anybody's guess as there is precious little of the Horse Chestnut tree left!



Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 19th November, 2016
My most recent visit, on 26th November, found an owl sitting out on a projection. Having taken some photos, I wandered down the road to see if I could find a second owl - I didn't, but when I got back the owl had moved and relocated into a nearby tree a little further from the road.


Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 26th November, 2016
LO Site No.12

This was a site on my 'local patch' but no Little Owl had been seen since February, 2013. I was, therefore, surprised to see one there on 15th November as darkness was falling. I suspect, however, that this was a bird that had wandered from Site No.02.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 15th November, 2016
LO Site No.17

This site is another one that is relatively remote from anywhere I usually visit, although it is not far from my Site No.03.

Sightings became very sparse after Jackdaws took over the building in which the owls nest. However, the owls (or, at least one owl) seem to have taken possession again.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 6th November, 2016
The building in which the owls live is divided by a netting partition. Sometimes, when the owls aren't visible around the building, I can just peek in through a broken window at the opposite end of the building and spot an owl there. It's a terrible photo, not helped by the chequer pattern made by the netting, but here's one of an owl at home on 26th November. The white haze on the right is caused by the window frame and the fact that I could only partially poke my camera through the hole in the window!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 26th November, 2016
LO Site No.23

This site is one where I can go for long periods without seeing an owl and then it's seen with considerable regularity. I've only seen a pair here once. John and I are currently going through a period of regular sightings here.

A previous post features an image here from 13th November. Here's one from 24th November.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 24th November, 2016
LO Site No.34

This site is up and down like a yo-yo, being frequently invaded by Jackdaws and Stock Doves. After a period of absence, I'm delighted to report that a pair are now in residence again, and can usually be seen occupying the opening to the nest cavity - although one usually has to look very carefully to spot the second bird lurking behind the first!

Here's one with the pair both being relatively visible.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 29th November, 2016
LO Site No.37

This site is a strange one. It seems to be only occupied in the winter, although it could be that the foliage is so dense in the summer that we never see a bird here - a comment that you might understand from the following images! For winter quarters, this site seems excessively exposed. The tree has the appearance of being pollarded, with the trunk being completely hollow, and open at the top. Furthermore, the 'cylinder' that is the trunk is completely open on one side - i.e. possibly 100° of the 360° circumference is missing. Having not seen a bird here since January, I'm now seeing one every time I pass!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 17th November, 2016

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 24th November, 2016
Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 27th November, 2016
LO Site No.41

I'd last seen an owl at this site, in its decaying nest tree, on 19th August. As reported in a previous post, I was, therefore, delighted to find a single owl there, in a Hawthorn near the nest tree, on 13th November. I've since had two more sightings - both in the same Hawthorn. Here's an image from 27th November.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 27th November, 2016
Two days later, I was passing that way again and, at first look, missed seeing a bird here. Then I spotted one and took my car onto the field to photograph it - although it was still not in the best of positions, being partly in shade and partly in bright sunlight.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 29th November, 2016
I was just about to depart as I did not want to unduly disturb the bird, when I caught a glimpse of something a couple of metres away, well-disguised by branches and berries. It was another owl! This, for me, was probably the highlight of the month as, up until that point in time, I was only aware of a pair of Little Owls at one other site (No.34).

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 29th November, 2016
LO Site No.43

This has always been a 'mystery site'. It is close to two other sites (34 & 36), but John and I have never been sure if the birds we were seeing here were vagrants from one of the other two sites, with 36 being the most probable. Sadly, Site No.36 was destroyed by the farmer in the summer this year, and the owls from here were never found again. However, on 10th November, as it was getting dark, an owl was seen at No.43 once more.


Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 10th November, 2016
Again, as it was getting dark on 17th November, an owl was seen sitting in a different hole in the same tree.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - 17th November, 2016
So that was the month of November - one that has raised my spirits and enthusiasm somewhat.

I have absolutely no idea what or when my next post will be. However, I shall try and make sure I have something to post before Christmas. Some images of a different owl species would be nice - if the opportunity arises. The only 'other owl' I saw in November was a Barn Owl after dark. In spite of returning a few times, I've not found it again.

Thank you for dropping by.

31 comments:

  1. Beautiful images of the Little Owl.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another brilliant post Richard,love all the tree shots,beautiful setting,and superb captures,one thing I've often thought,do Little Owls stay loyal to there nest site.
    John.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, John.

      Little Owls don't wander far from their nest sites in normal circumstances - they can usually be found within 200 metres of the nest. However, it seems that some use two sites - one for breeding, and one for the rest of the year (a bit like Barn Owls do, although Barn Owls travel large distances). This possibly depends on the characteristics of the breeding site - a confined nest cavity possibly gets a bit uninhabitable after a brood of chicks! Little Owls tend not to live for very long, however - I've seen it stated that the average is two to three years. So some of my sites that have been continually occupied will, in reality, almoost certainly not host the original occupants.

      Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

      Delete
  3. It is so wonderful to see all these little Owls in different locations. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Margaret. It's been a busy Christmas preparation weekend - but I did get out and see some owls this morning!

      Have a great week - - - Richard

      Delete
  4. Excellent records both written and illustrated, you can be proud of your achievements with this the most delightful of owls Richard.

    Kind Regards

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Pete, for your kind words.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

      Delete
  5. Hey Richard! Incredibly beautiful pictures. How small owl of Minerva is? Greetings

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Anne. These are my favourite birds - they have so much character.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

      Delete
  6. Lovely set of pictures of the Little Owls, lovely to see them again Richard. Maybe we don't have enough rotten, holey trees in Dorset to attract these owls, or enough run down buildings in the countryside :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lin. It could be that you don't have much suitable habitat - or it could be that they're there and you're not seeing them ;-}

      Best wishes - - - Richard

      Delete
  7. Hello Richard,
    Again I am amazed at such beautiful pictures that the owls are so common with you and you are sitting everywhere is amazing, in the tree caves they are very difficult to find from a distance, you have the perfect eye for it. Here with us in Germany I look at each tree cave two times but always only empty. :-)
    Greetings Frank

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Frank. Thank you for your kind words.

      Little Owls are not very easy to find here, and it seems to be getting more difficult. It is more than a year since I found a new Little Owl site, and I am losing sites faster than I am finding them! However, because most of my bird watching is specifically looking for owls I do have a fairly well-trained eye for spotting them.

      Best wishes for a great week - - - Richard

      Delete
  8. Great sightings, Richard, I bet you spirits have gone up!
    Birds (in general) have a way of surprising us just when we think our observations are at low.
    Some very beautiful photos here, I wish these LO's breed well in spring!
    I'll swap a crane for one of these cuties with you anytime!!!
    Keep well Richard!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for those very kind words, Noushka, which are very much appreciated.

      I'm a firm believer in adopting the attitude that one should never give up - although it's tempting to do so at times!

      A crane for an owl sounds like a good deal to me!

      Keep warm and safe - - - Richard

      Delete
  9. Since writing this post yesterday I've re-visited my Site No.02. No owl was seen, but the whole section of roof (tiles and laths) behind the owl in the first two images on this post have now completely disappeared !!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Many thanks Richard,great reply.
    John.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sorry to be a tad late in commenting on this post, but we are visiting my daughter in Ottawa and have been kept pretty busy. We are delighted to hear all this good news about the Little Owls which will remain near and dear in our hearts forever. Much love to you both, David and Miriam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear David and Miriam - I hope you had (or are still having?) a wonderful time with the family in Ottawa. I have no concept of the distance involved, but image it is substantial!

      I often think of the day in 2015 when we three went out and saw ten Little Owls in a day. Without consulting my records, I think that that was probably the last time I saw ten LOs in a day. I'm delighted that you are still retaining a fondness for these special birds.

      With our love - - - Richard and Lindsay

      Delete
  12. Hi Richard, great post with some wonderful images of the Little Owls, I am missing my visits out to the sites at the moment due to circumstances at home but hopefully this week I will manage to see some. Bad news about the roof at 02. Regards John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi John. I'm beginning to wonder if that last roof fall at 02 convinced the bird(s?) that it was time to leave. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, however.

      It's been a while since we had an afternoon out together. Sadly, this Friday looks as if it's going to be messed up too, now. Maybe we'll be able to get out next week, when Lindsay is away!

      See you soon - - - Richard

      Delete
  13. Hello David, good to see you saw so manny LO on different locations. So cute to see the one with the red berries. To bad that the roof of the one of the locations has dissepeared.
    I hope they will find a good location to bread in the Spring.
    All the best for you and your wife.
    Regards,
    Roos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Roos. I can't find David at the moment, so I'll reply instead! ;-}

      I also liked the image with the berries, although I'd have preferred it if the bird didn't have a berry for an eye!

      How is your husband now?

      With my very best wishes - - - Richard

      Delete
    2. Oooops, sorry Richard for letting you search for David hahaha. Glad you are not upset by my mistake. My husband is "ÖK" but still has to do some more tests. Medication must do the trick. We will wait and see.
      Regards,
      Roos

      Delete
  14. Great images as usual Richard. I'm glad the number of sightings have gone up this November but perhaps it's just me but I can't help what happened earlier on the year, not only with your Owls sites but other people sites too.
    I haven't quit my blog sadly my camera body finally gave up, as did my car and a change of jobs led to very little bird photography but plenty of old school birding with no camera. Took delivery of my new camera recently (1d mk4) so I've just to get some spare time and get blogging again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Doug. So sorry to hear of your photographic problems, and other problems too. I hope that all is getting back to normal, and I'm delighted to hear that you've still found time for some old-fashioned birding.

      The dip in LO sightings that so many people seem to have experienced is a strange one. It might be my imagination, but I've had the feeling that trees and bushes have grown tremendously this year if they are healthy, and that the foliage has been somewhat denser that normal. Maybe they've been there all the time and I've been unable to see them ?? It's still been a disappointing year for breeding, however.

      Good luck with the new camera - I'm looking forward to a post from you!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

      Delete
  15. I'm glad you're so cares for the little owl Richard.
    I'm also a big fan of little owls. Here the stone owl not so good and I've only seen dead guy in my area and a living adult owl.
    You foto'zijn really beautiful and this is also really enjoy this beautiful and cute owls. My compliments for your work and your pictures.

    Regards, Helma

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Helma.

      Don't you go eating too many of those magic mushrooms now!

      With my best wishes - - - Richard

      Delete
  16. Great stuff mate, a wonderful collection of Little Owl images.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Paul. Sorry to hear that your recent attempt at LOs drew a blank. That Kingfisher more than compensated for this, however!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

      Delete

I'm pleased to report that the anonymous spam problem seems to be solvable without using word verification. I'm now just using the 'Registered Users - includes OpenID' option in Blogger settings, and I'm not getting any spam - touch wood! I've also not received any contact from people saying that they are no longer able to make comments.