This post wasn't planned, I'm not ready to get back into the full swing of blogging on a regular basis just yet! But.............when an new Little Owl site is accidentally stumbled upon and some images are also captured I felt compelled to share the news.
I had Monday & Tuesday off work, the plan was to visit a few local owl sites whilst getting a bit of general birding in too. My plans were almost completely scuppered on both days as all it did was poor with rain, nearly all the time! However, during my driving around there were a few breaks in the clouds and the light improved albeit only for short periods. During one of these rare "dry" periods I was to found at my latest Little Owl site No 236. I'd only located it a few days ago (see previous post) and the images were pretty poor as it was almost dark, so my first task was to confirm the birds were still there and secondly to get some improved images in the "better light".
After a bit of searching both owls were located again, which was good news and bodes well for the future but they seemed very nervous and kept their distance. A couple of improved images were obtained but I still only consider these to be "record shots".
The slight improvement in image quality from my new Little Owl site No 236 was not the reason for this post? The reason was yet another new Little Owl site that I have managed to find and considering the poor weather I am quite pleased with the accompanying images that I managed to obtain.
I was driving along a route that I have used on many previous occasions, I do tend to slow down and give the derelict roadside barn the once over but have never before seen anything. Because this time the main road was relatively quiet it gave me the opportunity to slow right down, just as on previous occasions nothing perched up so no reason to stop. Then just as I was starting to accelerate away a movement caught my eye in the ploughed field. Because of the angle I was now out it was a very fleeting glimpse indeed before the hedgerow blocked my view. Was that a Little Owl I saw in the field?? The curiosity got the better of me so I pulled over and turned back. I pulled up slowly into the field gateway and cut the engine.
There was nothing to see, it must have been wishful thinking on my behalf, yes maybe I was grasping at straws for something to brighten up an otherwise drab and event-less day. It was nearly lunch time so I decided to have a sandwich and kill another 10 minutes watching the general area.......just in case! Then there was another movement in the field, difficult to make it out because it was really well camouflaged, the binoculars were soon on it and the culprit was identified, a Red Legged Partridge! It must have been the Partridge that I saw on my first pass by, an easy mistake I suppose?
Because I hadn't finished eating my lunch I continued to stay parked up chomping away, then a another movement from the building caught my eye, flipping heck there on the old chimney stack was a Little Owl!!!! I couldn't believe it, was this just a pure coincidence or was it an owl that I saw earlier?? It wasn't the time to go into a deep analysis of whether it was or wasn't, the sandwiches were soon ditched and replaced with the camera. The owl didn't seem to be bothered by the presence of the car and stood up erect and very statue like watching me.
It wasn't too long before the owl dropped down behind the building and out of sight. I took this opportunity to review the images I just taken whilst keeping a check on the chimney for its return. A good 30 minutes had elapsed and it didn't show again, maybe it had been spooked? I was satisfied, a new Little Owl site had been located, I'd managed a few images of the bird and I'd just finished my lunch! It was time to move on, I gave the general area one final check over before departing. It was at this eleventh hour that I spotted the owl again, it was sitting in an opening where a tile was missing from the roof! It's colouration blending in well with the tiles, I wonder just how long had it been there watching me?
Again it soon disappeared, only this time it dropped back down into the barn. It was curious, I was confident it would re-appear to have another look at me, but where?
The barn had obviously seen better days and was in quite a state of ruin, this offered the owl a vast array of access options. On the end of the barn was quite a large aperture where I suspect there use to be a door, it was here that it again re-emerged.
It continued to play "hide & seek" with me for quite some time, then during a period of "no show" I heard it call. It was now adjacent to me perched up in the hedgerow, I couldn't see it because of the angle but it was close! It then offered me the best views of all when it dropped down onto the ploughed field, it gave me the occasional glance as it hopped from mud clump to mud clump. It slowly moved further and further away, I then realised it was feeding as it captured and gorged itself on a nice juicy earthworm.
I now wonder if the first sighting I made as I drove by was of the owl and not the Partridge after all, never the less it was a very rewarding hour or so that I spent with this owl and my new site No 237.