It is now getting too dark for photography after work, at this time of year I am limited to weekends & holidays only. But not to worry as it is now the time for more groundwork and networking with the local farmers and landowners. In previous years I have found that if the graft is put in now looking for owl activity in new areas I generally get rewarded come the spring.
So after gaining access permission from several different landowners this evening I went to investigate some old/derelict farm buildings in search of Barn Owl activity. And what a productive couple of hours it turned out to be, no fewer than 4 new owl sites were located, yes you read right.....FOUR!!
I was in the area of Kilby, Arnesby and Fleckney and the tally brakes down to 3 new Little Owl sites and 1 Barn Owl. All three of the Little Owls were located in the old/derelict barns whilst looking for Barn Owls and ironically the last new site, a Barn Owl was located whilst searching for Little Owls, how mad is that?
The first Little Owl of the evening was spotted sitting on top of the barn that I was checking out for Barn Owls, no signs of Barn Owls but never the less this was a superb consolation prize. The light was just holding on at the time and with the ISO pushed up I managed this image before it flew off. Get in there new site 216!!
The circumstances of locating the next two Little Owl sites was almost identical to the first, I was creeping about in the buildings looking for Barn Owl pellets when I accidentally flushed them from their hiding places. If they had held their nerve and just stayed put I don't think they would have been seen? But hey I'm not complaining they were new sites 217 & 218 in the bag, yeeeeees. The third Little Owl site also had fresh Barn Owl pellets on the floor so a breeding box will soon be made and erected there.
Sadly I had another two locations that I wanted to check out but I was beaten by the light, there is no way I was going to be fumbling around in the dark in an old barn so they will have to wait until another day.
On my way home I decided to stop off at a know Little Owl site to see if they were showing or rather calling. They were and I could hear up to four different birds. I got chatting to the farmer about the owls when he casually dropped it out that he had seen a Barn Owl hunting over the different areas of rough pasture during the last few nights.......WHAT!!! Because of the nature of the farmyard layout it was difficult to see the several different "hunting areas" at once and because it was dark all hope of seeing the owl was lost.......or was it?
He suggested I clamber up on top of the adjacent water tower and from there I would be able to see the different hunting areas. And to aid my viewing the scattered spotlights that were around the farm were all turned on, what a good bloke! Now I absolutely detest heights at the best of times and normally I wouldn't have gone up this tower, not even for money. But the cause was a good one so my fear had to be put to one side for a few minutes and up I went. Bloody hell, it was high, a good job it was dark because I don't think I got the true perspective of being 60 foot in the air!
I was holding on to the railings for dear life, not really daring to move and then whoosh, a Barn Owl flew past. Superb another new location and a nesting box will be in situ very soon. Quite surreal seeing it flying about 20 foot above the ground yet it was still miles below me. Obviously no images were obtained because it was too dark, it wouldn't have mattered though if it was brilliant sunlight there was no way I was letting go of the railings!
Maybe I'll be braver next time..................not a chance!