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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Little Owls - My Best Month Yet !! - January, 2014

In my last post I said that I was having a good month with Little Owl sightings. Well, I've now broken all my past records in all respects bar one - number of new sites in a month.

My previous best month for new sites was in March, 2013, when the birds were quite vocal and easier to pinpoint. I managed four new sites. This month I only managed three.

March, 2013 also gave me my previous best for number of sites at which Little Owls were seen in a month. The figure was 14. This month I just managed to increase that figure to 15.

My previous best for numbers of sightings of Little Owl in a month was in the juvenile-filled days of August, 2012. The figure was 49. This month I managed to raise the figure to 52.

Before you all start commenting as to how well my Little Owls are doing, I'm afraid it's not quite as easy as that. The main reason is that, towards the end of the month when things were looking positive, I set myself a target, and I put in the effort. I'm not sure that it was a sensible thing to do, and I shall probably be taking a step back next month.

As the weather has been a bit grim since my last post, there have not been many photo opportunities, but the owls are still there. I even went out today when it was snowing, sleeting and raining all day - and, against all expectations, saw three owls!

Here's a few photos that I did (just about) manage since my last post.

A walk on my local patch in very dull weather on 21st gave me a slightly different photo opportunity, with an owl where it doesn't often perch.

Little Owl - my Site No.02
A short while later I was at a place, also on my local patch, which I don't often visit but where I have heard an owl calling twice before, and never managed to locate it. Today I was to be luckier - my new LO Site No.45 and the third for the month. I now have to work out how to get a decent photo of the owl, and determine if I have a pair here.

Little Owl - my new Site No.45
On 23rd January, on an afternoon out on a breezy day with my pal Titus, one of the owls was dozing in a sheltered position, at my recent site No.44.

Little Owl - my Site No.44
A short while later we were watching the pair of owls at my Site No.41 also sheltering in the lee of a tree in the distance.

Little Owls - my Site No.41
The last owl of the day on this 8-owl day was at my Site No.36, where I've not seen an owl since the pair were evicted by Jackdaws in early spring, 2013. This now needs investigating to see if this was the owl from nearby Site No.43. The location of this owl at 36 does seem to be rather high up in the tree for a Little Owl, which makes me wonder if this is its home.

Little Owl - my Site No.36
On 28th, I had a rare invitation to visit my Site No.33. I only managed to see one owl - lurking in the back of a very dark barn. This was taken handheld at 1/13 second (ISO 2,000) !!!

Little Owl - my Site No.33
Today (30th January), as mentioned above, we managed to see three owls in spite of the weather. These were at my sites 41, 43, and 44. The owls at 41 and 44 were sheltering in the entrance to the nest hole, but the one at 43 was braving the elements, although tucked into the trunk on the lee-side of the tree. I probably fired off around 100 frames all told today, but this is the only vaguely usable one.

Little Owl - my Site No.44
It's certainly been one of my most encouraging owling months and, yes, I know there's still another day to go, but my day is already mapped out in total tomorrow and I'm not going to see any owls!

Thank you for dropping by - there may be something a little different next month?!


  1. Really nice last shot! That's a bit of art. I know how it gets. We have our human constraints that don't allow us to always survey the areas due to timing OR energy:) I have a hard time jump starting the battery after a week of nonstop birding:) Thank you for checking up on them. I do the same:)

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Chris. I sometimes wonder where you find the time and energy to achieve all that you do!

  2. Nice post Richard, congrats on setting yet another "owly" record!

    1. Thanks Paul. I hate to think how far off your record month I am!

  3. Love your commitment Richard,looking forward to seeing more of your excellent photography.
    Take care.

  4. Really like the one on the crumbling barn (02) however my girlfriend said "ahh" to the one fast asleep....that's as good as it gets from her.
    I'm still struggling to locate any decent numbers here fro LO's sadly.

    1. Thank you, Doug. I must admit thar I think that the one with its eyes closed looks rather cute.

      Don't forget that I'm not working, so can put the hours in.

  5. Richard: Your dedication to these owls is simply remarkable and the amount of effort you put into locating and monitoring them is nothing short of spectacular, a reason for great admiration and gratitude from the entire birding community.

  6. Hi Richard, you are lucky to see so many Little Owls, I would love to see one down here in Dorset, I don't know if they are down here this far South.

    1. I always feel lucky when I see a Little Owl!

      I was in Dorset today and a lady I spoke to reckons that she sees them occasionally near Wootton Fitzpaine. I didn't find any, however! I'll do some research and get back to you.

  7. Richard, it's just a fact that "the harder you work, the luckier you get"! Your efforts have been truly rewarded with a great record of your Little Owl population. Good Show!

    I like your new header photo!

    We have been fortunate in the past few days to have discovered two Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) nests and will hopefully see owlets soon.

    Take care (hope you soon see an improvement in your weather!).

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

      I'm looking forward to seeing your Great Horned Owls! I'll keep my fingers crossed for them breeding successfully.

      The pundits are saying that this weather is likely to last for a good few weeks yet. With all the flooding that's around UK (and fortunately we've missed here in my neck of the woods - touch wood!) I get the impression that not only is there a lot of personal loss and misery out there, but that the economy is going to be seriously impacted - not just through remedial and prevention works, but by loss of production (agricultural and industrial). I know it's pretty insignificant when compared to relatively recent disasters elsewhere in the world, but it is, nevertheless, a worry.


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