This particular post title makes reference to the "beast" being my Landrover! After 6 long months standing idle on my driveway (no tax!) it has now passed its MOT and is now legally back on the road, and raring to go. It is an exciting time for me because the landie allows me to go to places that otherwise would not be accessible and haven't been visited for well over six months! If they are accessible the intended quarry doesn't usually get to be seen because the element of disguise that the landie offers is just not there!
My very first outing in the landie was over to one of my favourite Little Owl sites near to the village of Enderby. This site has a proven track record of being very reliable for owl sightings but one has to be in the landie otherwise nothing is ever seen! And right bang on form, after being parked up for no more than five minutes the resident pair of Little Owls showed themselves. They didn't venture away from the nest entrance but good to see they made it through the winter, again!
|The hen owl, site No 88.|
|The male owl, site No 88|
|The male owl again, site No 88. Being quite vocal.|
During my first venture out in the landie of 2014 I was not alone? Keeping me company was my new (and very excited) buddy. He is four years old and his name is Patch. He was acquired a few weeks ago from a couple who had just retired and were moving back to America. Patch is a very obedient and well trained dog and has settled in very nicely. I think he and I are destined to spend many hours together out in the landie and no doubt he will be featuring on my blog again!
|Patch, in his mobile kennel. What a handsome chap!|
So Patch and I made our second site visit to an area near to South Wigston. I was eager to re-visit this area because during my last visit back in September 2013 disaster had struck? During high winds the nest site was destroyed rendering the Little Owl's at site No 105 homeless. This was my first visit since then and I was eager to see if the owls were still holding their old territory?
Firstly we visited the old nest tree, my fears were confirmed when the damage was witnessed, even worse than I recalled. A huge limb had fallen from high above smashing the nest entrance wide open leaving nothing more than a gaping hole that a space hopper could fit into. Do you remember the space hopper? Amazing how much fun you could have with a big orange ball with antennas!.
After further inspection of the carnage there was no evidence of any owl activity, had they survived the ordeal and if so where were they now? There were two other likely nearby trees that could be candidates for a re-location, so they were checked out. The landie was relocated adjacent to the first tree and with good light behind I checked it out through my binoculars. BINGO!!! After five seconds of scanning the tree a Little Owl was spotted. Now this owl didn't seem to be fazed out by the presence of the landie, it appeared to be quite relaxed. This was excellent news because the male owl from the decimated site was one of the most confiding owls that I know. He was use to the landie and at times would allow me to drive within just a few meters of him! I was confident that this was the same owl, so a quick manoeuvre to a nearer and more advantageous position for a photo was undertaken, the owl remained in the same spot, (presumably the new nest entrance) I am now very confident it was him!
|Male owl - site No 105.|
Although the male owl at this site is extremely confiding the hen owl is totally the opposite. She has always been shy and usually keeps hidden away. For this reason I pulled back and observed from a position further away, after a while she too showed herself (too far for an image). So both owls had survived the ordeal of the previous nest site being destroyed, excellent news.
After leaving the owls I decided to have a drive around this particular area, it seemed an age since I was last here and it's always nice to reacquaint yourself with a favoured area. During this drive about I spotted a Green Sandpiper flitting along an old storm drain. Because I don't have any "decent" images of this species I decided to invest some time and give it a go. I positioned the landie paralell to the storm drain near to where it was being bathed in glorious morning sunshine.
Whilst waiting for the Sandpiper to come close I was entertained by a trio of Grey Wagtails, a couple of images were captured, but the quality has been lost somewhat because of their relative small size and heavy crops.
|Balancing act - Grey Wagtail|
It was a long wait, but finally my two hour endurance paid off when the Sandpiper finally settled on the wall right in front of me!
|Green Sandpiper - South Wigston|
Without doubt the best ever Green Sandpiper views I've ever had, well worth investing the time waiting for it to come close, using the landie as a hide paid off yet again!
Patch and I then moved on, he'd been a good boy and never made a murmur all the time we waited, he was well overdue a comfort break and a bit of a run. Here he is again enjoying having a splash about!
My next planned visit out in the landie is to start my monitoring all the owl nest boxes, some of them are now looking worse for wear and desperately in need of some maintenance, but Col and I have a plan, but that will be next time........
See you all soon!