In Dusk We Trust - Some Owling in Co.Durham, North East England, Great Britain
Leucistic Little Owl image copyright Hilary Chambers, Durham.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Asio interaction 2 & 3. / Pics

cant be arsed to write these up in detail :-

#2 :
comes from The Gin Trap Ninja :-
adult Long-eared capturing a Reed Bunting & releasing it alive for one of its fledged young to have a pounce at.

comes from Yours truly :-
adult Long-eared following an adult Barn Owl for 10 mins. Followed every twist & turn, stopped on 3 occassions when Barnie perched up, no vocalisations, no harrassment or attacking - it was as if it was waiting for the Barn to catch something for it.

Heres a couple of this years images from J.Clarke over in Ireland :-
fine adult bird. J.Clarke.

2 in nest - J.Clarke.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Lucky dip box

Another fresh JWa Productions raptor box up.....
we had the young apprentice on hand again - he was first to see a noisy Kes circling above us as we worked

this may be the species which uses it first - although Stock Dove, Tawny, Grey Squirrel, Long-eared are all just as likely at this site.....

Long-eareds hunting at dusk at several local locations - i watched 2 hunting close together on Friday evening at 19:25 - one having a very pale tail - an individual i certainly havnt seen previously.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

6 of the best

A short walk this evening with plenty of activity from Little Owls

I was scoping one with attending Magpie, from distance :-

when, from out of this bush:-

popped, this :-
 and a close up
 activity & vocals picking up as the light went - with several freshly ploughed fields, the going currently seems very good.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Obscured Owls

young Little from July

Little Owl enjoying the morning sun

Young Barn Owl roosting late afternoon.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Big Wind, Little Owl

Dont know how those folk manage on the other side of the Atlantic....
we only get the very tail end of their weather & it brings death & destruction...

Yesterday the gales abated somewhat and it was realy quite pleasant out of the breeze, particularly in the warm sun - this brought out a number of butterfly including Red Admiral, Wall, Small Tortoishell, Small Copper & Speckled Wood, with a small number of Darters & Hawkers in the damper spots.

They werent the only ones out in the sunshine - a family of Little Owls had found a nice sheltered spot & were basking in the warmth.

Every now & then the 2 youngsters would drop onto the ground for items before returning to roost blissfully in the sun with very heavy eyes.

Sitting so conspiciously they drew the attention of several passing species which alarmed & mobbed them to various degrees - Yellowhammer, Robin, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Blackbird & Willow Tit all in attendance - with the Blackbird im not sure if it was a case of the owl being mobbed or the thrush being hunted !, as the Little flapped about & clambered through the scrub. (  twice we've noted local Blackbird as a LO prey item )

The adults were far more active & attentive - not allowing as close an approach.
A Collared Dove came in to land close to the family, but had an adult owl on its tail before it had chance to touch down - they appear to be feisty little things at times.

Very soon the excitement was over, a quick call to reassure the youngsters & it was time for another 40 winks.....

This was towards the edge of their territory & exactly the spot were they had tried to nest before a box was supplied for them.
The previous attempt failed & the owls disappeared for a good while (a single reappeared within the year, but it was 18 month before a pair were re-established in the territory) after the rabbit hole they were using was mistakenly dug out by terrier-men.
I wouldnt have thought it would be long before the youngsters are leaving to try to find their own home ranges....

Monday, 12 September 2011

Asio interaction 1

An account of an hour or so watching a Long-eared Owl family in action a few weeks back - which threw up a surprise.
( images for illustrative purposes, copyright of D.Johnson - link below)

It was mid evening & all was quiet - on approaching the site, unfortunately the youngest owl was at the pathside & he came off from his low level roost, at the first sign of me.......

its siblings however stood their ground, much higher in the canopy, so i moved off site to await activity from range, scanning the cleared fields with telescope produced a couple of Hares , with roaming flocks of Curlew & Lapwing, with Pheasant & Grey Partridge all around.

A singing Quail caught my attention, it appeared to be coming from the edge of a newly ploughed field.

As the evening wore on, the moon began to rise & activity commenced.

Two of the youngsters began begging as both adults drifted out to hunt.

While the adults were away i moved closer & backed out of sight into the corner of a hedge & could see & hear the 3 young birds.
They were prominant at close range on the edge of the copse - awaiting their suppers.
After 2 food drops, the light went & the youngsters became bolder.
All three flew a short distance to land on recently ploughed ground, head bobbing & staring down intently at various points.
One flew up to land on a post 20' away & i squeaked the back of my hand - 2 of the youngsters came by for a close look - the first was bold & flew directly, veering off only at the last moment. The second bird seemed particularly intruiged, hovering infront of me until its curiousity was satisfied.
The begging calls disguising the fact that they are now accomplished flyers, wheeling round & landing accurately without hesitation.

another food drop - NB the wear on the ends of flights.
After a couple of food passes, these 2 youngsters each followed an adult out, begging all the while upsetting Lapwings in the process.
The hunger calls were a good few hundred metres away & a similar distance apart, but the 3rd youngster remained on the ground close to the nest area begging irregularly.
Within moments an adult approached the nest area carrying prey, it came in from the West behind a hedgerow - the grounded youngster was unawares, im presuming the adult took this indirect route as it was aware of me....

It was the female bird, she called sharply several times & i imagined the youngster would make a bee-line for her, but not a bit of it. - The lazy article sat begging in the stubble, the female flying its meal in & landed to feed it on the ground.
Only a smalll detail, but i cant remember seeing them being fed like this previously - being grounded surely putting both at risk...

Post Script:-
A September 12th update from our very stealthy Mr Gin-Trap Johnson
where he informs us of one of this years young Long-eared's roosting on the ground within its windswept copse - the bird obviously sitting out the tail end of the atlantic Hurricane rather than be blown off its perch !