In Dusk We Trust - Some Owling in Co.Durham, North East England, Great Britain
Leo food-pass image copyright Michael Brady, Newcastle.


Friday, 27 May 2011

Ringing visit

Some images of  Long-eared Owl chicks from ringing visits :-

Long-eared @2wks old


small broods this year

Quite a difference between the two - the eldest bill clacking& having bright eyes

In Safe hands - Should have been a goalie !

2 older chicks, @2.5 wks old back in the nest after ringing.

and a Little Owl chick:-

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Safe & sounds

An evening visit to check up on a pair of A.otus in a coastal area.

These birds have been interfered with in previous years, a clutch lost & chicks taken from the nest, as well as the nest tree being vandalised.

With school half-term looming large next week  (the week when some local stuff usually goes missing or gets trashed) , it was something of a relief to see where the pair had chosen this year.

nest in centre of image, a quarter of the way down - i wouldnt fancy climbing that one !
Swaying steadily back & forth towards the top of a spindly & very poorly formed (the one with the crazy bend to the right) Scots Pine.
The females tail just visible over the brim - no-one would get to this without a set of climbing irons.

Unusually the male was singing close by when i arrived, & he continued steadily for 10 mins.
A noisy & very busy family of Crows made a right racket over the wood, soaring & chasing for a good while - i wonder if this was keeping the male bird under cover rather than the dismall, cold, wet windy weather.....?

The evening was so dull & damp that i was home well before 10pm. March & April were far more pleasant !

Greedy Little things

Someones been stocking up the pantry....


Prey items cached in this box included adult Great Tit, adult Reed Bunting(headless) & a selection of 7 mice, vole & shrews.

So who is this savage killer with a stockpile of prey....?





A Little Owl of course !
Here the female in prone position, with tiny chick & egg - note another small mammal right in the corner beside the birds head.


Full view inside the box:-
They must have been stocking up while stuff has been on special offer.......
Greedy Little things.

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Close by these Tawnies are very late this year - their first egg only just hatched too.
Prey items in the box included Wood Mouse & single fledglings of Blackbird & Song Thrush.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

a Cool evening capped off with a round of applause

ive probably made less evening owling visits than in any other year - time is getting on now, so best make the most of the light nights...
Although the weather last night was hardly condusive to standing around in the cold.  A very chilly NW breeze (thankfully no volcanic ash that i was aware of) pegging back a cool late May evening of only 6 degrees. So much so that it was fingerless gloves & wooly dut to keep the warm in.

Close to home the Quail sang only briefly & intermitantly & the recent 10 Noctule bats were reduced to only 2, but they were out early.  Superb views as they came down low behind the tree covered pools, one changing course rapidly & coming within feet of a feeding Swift. A couple of birds were out & feeding low over the water right up till 22:00.

A Little Owl at its regular spot in an Ash, huddled out of the breeze, with another calling, with a distant Long-eared hunting open ground.
A Barnie sat post hunting in a vole rich pasture for 10 minutes, before moving to quarter along the edge of the plantation out of the breeze, where a pair of Long-eareds live, the female had already been calling every 7 or so seconds for more than quarter of an hour.
Almost as soon as the BO reached the wood edge, a distinctive 'tapping' came closer - the male Long-eared appeared from nowhere at height, wing clapping over the nest site. I turned to see the Barnie had broke off from its sheltered hunting & was making a beeline right out over the wheat, as if trying to put as much space as quickly as he could between him & the Leo.....
The female Leos calls intensified for a short while in responce to her mates presence, he drifted off to hunt the hedgeline & her calls returned to a more regular tempo.



Ive noted wing-clapping throughout the year from this species, obviously most often in late Winter / Spring, but in this scenario im sure it was in direct responce to the Barn owl hunting in such close proximity to the Leo nest.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

fem Long-eared Owl brooding young

Travelled outside my local area to carry out a couple of checks in the very strong unseasonal wind today.

this female was enjoying the sun while she swayed back & forth on the nest :-

This pair have chosen an old & somewhat exposed Crows nest, in little more than a spindley sapling to use to raise their young.
This is one of @ 8 pairs in the Durham City district, the species being widespread, though largely undetected in undisturbed woods & thickets, with rough grassland & pasture, across much of the County, with over 100 pairs ranging from sea-level up onto the open Pennine moorlands.
Two more were also sitting tight, but at a fourth location all didnt appear well -
This pair are using crows nest right up near the apex of a tall Larch on the edge of a commercial block.
The tree was swaying violently, loads of down feather stuck on the branches, but through the scope i couldnt see any sign of the adult bird sitting, nor any sign of young birds near the nest....


I hope ive got my dates wrong for this lot, will have to revisit when this wind finishes blowing - fingers crossed theyve moved under their own steam.....

Saturday, 21 May 2011

young Asio otus in the nest

A short post with images from 3 widely spaced active Long-eared Owl nests taken on the same day last week in northern England.
We check these for progress with the goodwill & consent from landowners, prior to visits by licensed ringers.


Clutch of 5 eggs.


single egg and two small young, days old


two young about a week old

There is a slight variation in the timings here this year, but we have previously had branched young out by mid May in previous years.

Nest visits are done as carefully, quickly & discreetly as possible. I have never known any birds desert either while incubating or brooding.

We hope ringing & installation of motion activated cameras will go some way to discouraging thefts & interference, following on from disturbance of Little, Tawny & Long-eared Owl nests, where both eggs & young have been taken.