Late yesterday I managed to get out for an hour, although late in the day and not good for photography dusk is definitely a great time to catch a glimpse of an owl. At this time of year when the trees have no leaves on them (unless it's an evergreen of course!) spotting the silhouette of a perched up owl isn't too difficult.
It is also the time of day (and year) when they become more vocal, prior to the breeding season the male birds are establishing their territories and at dusk their call can easily give their presence away.
I was checking out a site near to the village of Sharnford, I'd been watching the nest tree hoping for my first sighting of the year at this location. Nothing was seen, then as the light faded I heard the male owl calling, he was in a different tree to the one I'd been watching! Although distant I did managed to get an image (below), can you see him?
At the second site a pair was located perched up in their nest tree, again their presence was given up when the male owl called. These birds were a little harder to locate as their plumage blended in perfectly with the surrounding foliage, can you see them?
Then the hen bird came closer as she flew into a nearby tree, quickly followed by the male. He seemed excitable, he was dancing around whilst making a strange "clicking noise". I'd seen this behaviour before, I knew what was coming next.
She then seemed to surrender to him, bowed forward and started twisting from side to side. In a flash he mounted her and mating then commenced. It was all over in a matter of seconds as in the heat of passion they both fell from the branch!
On my way back Little Owls were seen at another two sites taking this years tally to 61 sightings across 31 different sites, still a long way to go until I hit my target of 100 occupied sites for the year.
Whilst on my way home I passed my site No 62, it was here that a single owl was seen perched up in a roadside tree. He didn't seem bothered one iota about me being parked up next to him with my camera poking out of the window. In order to attain this image (below) I had to manual focus and use the flash and still he didn't budge, I think they become far braver in the dark!
The last call I made was to a Barn in Cosby as I wanted to check out another one of my boxes. As I entered the building out flew a Barn Owl, my 13th different location this year!!