Hi and welcome to my Blog, my name is Paul Riddle and I live in south Leicestershire, UK. Back in August 2007 my quest began to locate as many local Little Owl territories as possible. The driving force was a reported decline in the uk numbers so I thought I would do my bit and conduct a study in my area. After 7 years and countless hours out in the field I have detected over 200 different sites. With a thirst for a greater understanding of the owls a more comprehensive monitoring and nest box programme then commenced. This also now includes monitoring the local and very sparse population of Barn Owls, please pop back occasionally and catch up with the life and times of my owls and any other wildlife that I come across. I hope you enjoy your visit!!!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Baby shortage!

Over the weekend a few more of my sites yielded yet more fledged juveniles. Most of them have been out in the big wide world for around a week or so now, and they are wising up very quickly.  Locating them is becoming extremely difficult, just like their parents, they are perfecting the art of disguise and keeping hidden!

At some of the locations the only clue to their presence was the distinctive, and repetitive "hissing", mostly coming from deep within a bush or heavily leaved tree. But with a little patience I did get a few brief glimpses.

At my site No 87 near to Willoughby a pair of them were located on distant fence posts, after an hours wait one of them came nearer, it was grubbing around in an old manure pile when I think the "clicking" of my camera shutter startled it, needless to say its instincts of survival soon had it taking for cover. 

Over at my site No 120 near to Slawston it was a Little Owl mad camp, there was no fewer than seven owls showing in total, two adults and five juveniles! Getting some decent images proved very difficult as they were all high up in the trees, eventually one of the juveniles landed in a hollow on a tree trunk and this image was in the can.

Beings as I was in the area I chose to re-visit site No 135 at Cranoe, I was very fortunate to have managed some cracking images from here one evening last week. The male owl showed again but the light wasn't as complimentary, therefore most of the images were just poorer versions.  

Site 149 over at Walton was one of those where I could hear the juveniles hissing but they just wouldn't come out, it was very frustrating and I had to make do with an image of one of the parents.

Four juveniles were showing really well at site No 184 near to Kilby, trouble was they were too far away! As with a previous site, one juvenile obviously felt sorry for me and came closer, trouble was it kept partially hidden behind a field gate!

I spent quite some time at site No 182 near Fleckney, after only 5 minutes of arriving I had confirmation of juveniles. The slight difference in the hissing pitch coming from a bush told me to expect 2 juveniles, but after a 3 hour wait neither of them showed! In the end I got fed up with the waiting, a decision was needed. Do I call it a day and depart or should I take a walk? The latter was chosen as I didn't want to go away empty handed after all the time I'd invested.

I crept up to the bush in question and peeped in, I could make out both juveniles but one was too deep in and totally obscured. I managed to get into a position where I could just about get an image of the nearer one through the foliage, once attained I departed slowly and both birds remained undisturbed.   

Finally, my run continues of finding at least one new Little Owl site every month since my study began. This latest one, No 187 was located at 10.15pm near to the village of Bruntingthorpe. It was sitting on top of a telegraph pole as I was driving home, luckily as I reversed and parked right underneath him it didn't budge, I had to manual focus and over expose to get anything like an image.......if that's what you'd call it! 

So all in all the returns are not too bad on the fledgling front so far this year, the average of juveniles per site is up on last year but I am still down on total birds and site numbers. The latest tally is 69 juveniles across 29 different sites (average 2.38 per site), compared to last years total of 82 juveniles across 39 different sites (average 2.1 per site).

So keep your fingers crossed for me, another 10 sites and 13 juveniles required..........at least!!!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent stuff. I've started to see a couple of juveniles down here at some sites I know here in Kent and have a few more trees that have been hissing at me without allowing me to get a glimpse.