( 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.|
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...
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 !