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Friday, 12 August 2011

More Little Owls, etc. - running up to 11th August, 2011

I've not posted anything on this blog since 3rd August (9 days ago!), partly due to my photographic forays being a little thin on the ground. However, it's about time that I put something up here so here goes!

Saturday 30th July

I popped down to my local patch for an hour before lunch, and found one of the adult Little Owls out on the chimney at my LO Site No.02. The wasps were buzzing round, and you can see one in the image below.

Little Owl - my Site No.02
I didn't stay long, but did see two Tree Sparrows and a flock of approximately 20 Long-tailed Tits. Two LOs were seen at my nearby Site No.12, but no usable images were obtained

Friday 5th August

At the end of a week with no birding activity, I escaped on the Friday morning and headed southwards to check out some of my Little Owl sites. Nothing was seen at my Site Nos. 05, 06, and 09, but I had a little more luck at my Site No.17, where a Little Owl was out on a distant post. To be honest, I'm not sure if this was an adult, or a well advanced juvenile - I suspect the latter, but it can be hard to tell at a distance. What a pity that it wasn't closer, as the light was great! 

Little Owl - my Site No.17
On my way home for lunch, I called in at my local patch. To my surprise, I found a photographer set up in a hide opposite my Little Owl Site No.02, near Packington. Not wanting to disturb him in his work, I had a quick wander round, took a few shots, from a distance, of the only owl seen (none of which are worth publishing here), and departed for my next site, leaving my card under the windscreen wiper of the photographer's car.

At my LO Site No.12, two LOs were seen but again no worthwhile images were obtained.

That evening I was out again, and started by trying to relocate the Tawny Owl that I'd seen out in daylight on 24th July. After an hour and a half, all I'd seen were Robins, and so I popped in at my LO Site No.17 (which is relatively close by) again. Once more, an owl was out on a post. This time I'm pretty sure it was an adult!

Little Owl - my Site No.17
 Sunday 7th August

I went down to my local patch in the afternoon, and found one Little Owl at my Site No.12, and two (one adult and one juvenile) at my Site No.02. I didn't get out of my car, as my main objective for the afternoon was a visit to Kelham Bridge, so only distant images were obtained.

Little Owl - my Site No.02

Little Owl (juvenile) - my Site No.02

Whilst watching the owls from my car, a movement in a bush caught my attention. It was a Lesser Whitethroat. I didn't get a very good image, but it's better than any other I've got of this species!

Lesser Whitethroat - near Packington

I'd not been to Kelham Bridge for a while (I usually find myself there in winter), so my visit was mainly a re-familiarisation with what was around. It was a little off-putting to find a rather ripe dead Hare beside the stile at the entrance. From the first hide, as well as the usual suspects, two Green Sandpiper were seen over the far side of the water. Whilst sitting in the second hide there was a thunderstorm which was quite spectacular at times. The images obtained here that afternoon were not great.

Tuesday 9th August

I started with an evening visit to my local patch, again intending to check out Kelham Bridge later - this time for owls.

At my site No.12 I found two Little Owls inside a barn, one of which, a juvenile, obliged by popping outside onto the guttering. Unfortunately, that particular end of the barn is not very accessible, so only distant shots were obtained.

Little Owl (juvenile) - my Site No.12

Down at my Site No.02 I found Steve Shaw - the photographer who had been there the previous Friday, and who had sent me an e-mail in response to me leaving my card, and with whom I'd exchanged several e-mails since. We had quite a long chat, and then Steve decided to accompany me to Kelham Bridge to see if we could see owls there.

From the first hide, we spotted three Green Sandpiper on the far side of the water, two of which are shown in the image below.

Green Sandpiper - Kelham Bridge

From the second hide, little of interest was seen, but the light from the end window of the hide was superb! I couldn't resist images of Coot and Moorhen, even though they are commonplace.

Coot - Kelham Bridge

Moorhen - Kelham Bridge

As dusk started falling we headed back towards the most likely area to see Barn Owl (Steve had tipped me off to this location - thank you Steve!). It was virtually dark before the Barn Owl appeared, and then very distant, so absolutely no chance of any images. I did, however, feel the need to take a shot of the moon - I'm glad I did because it shows me features that I'd never noticed before!

The Moon - somewhere a long way away!
After this, it was time to go home. Just as we got to our cars, a Tawny Owl started calling nearby. I returned the call and we saw it distantly as it checked us out. Two owls seen at Kelham Bridge, but none photographed!

Thursday 11th August

Rutland Water and again, as is usual, I decided to do a bit of owling on the way, even though it was a horribly dull grey day. A very brief stop during a shower at my LO Site No.18, near Oaks in Charnwood revealed two owls in the nest tree, but no images taken. My next stop was at my LO Site No.21 near Hungarton, but no owls were seen. My main interest, however, was to check out my newest LO site - No.23. I arrived to find that there was an owl up in the roof space, looking at me! Having taken a record shot from the road, I started to drive up the track towards the barn, and stopped half way. The owl had moved a few centimetres so that it could peer at me from behind a beam.

Little Owl - my Site No.23
No, this is not in monochrome - it's just that the awful light makes it look so!

I sat looking at the owl, and the owl peered at me without moving, for about three quarters of an hour. It was then time for me to head off to Rutland Water if I wasn't going to be late. I backed car down the drive and then drove across the field so that I could pass in front of the barn at a closer distance. The owl didn't move, and so I got some slightly closer images. Might have been nice with better lighting - these were all taken at about 1/80 second exposure! It must be the way it's sitting, but the first image below makes it look as if the owl has awfully big feet!

Little Owl - my Site No.23
The Ospreys were performing well at Rutland Water, but it remained dull and windy, so there was no successful photography. On the way home I stopped off at my LO Site No.21 again. I'd not seen an owl here on my previous three visits, so I was delighted when, after about twenty minutes, an owl appeared on the distant barn. I watched for nearly an hour as it slowly made its way down the field towards me, clearly checking me out. Unfortunately it was too dark to see if it was an adult or juvenile, and it disappeared off right after it got to a post about 30 metres from me.

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