I’ve posted a few owl pictures recently which prompted a blog reader to ask about daylight owls. Not all our UK species are strictly nocturnal; in fact all of them hunt at mainly dawn or twilight, but also occasionally in full daylight, especially at this time of year when they all have young owlets to feed. As the UK is in the Northern hemisphere the summer daylight hours can be long e.g. at the moment it is light from 0330 to 2200 hours, which restricts owls' night time hunting, therefore it is not unusual to see owls in the early morning when they can hunt without disturbance before us humans are up and about.
Having said all of the above a Little Owl on the fence post at Hambleton today confounded my theories by being still up and about at 1130am when owls should be at a daytime roost and Homo sapiens are ready for a morning coffee. The owl wasn’t roosting at all and became very animated as it not only watched that I didn’t get too close, but searched for food on the ground below, eye-balled a passing pedestrian and took time out to look for overhead dangers from the local Buzzards, Kestrels or Sparrowhawks.
I also checked the Swallows at Hambleton today where I knew one nest to be ready for ringing the chicks; from that nest I added another five youngsters to the year’s total but proceedings have come to a virtual halt now as I wait for the second broods. When I looked in the “black shed”, the adult female was sat tight so I lifted her off, checked for the five eggs, and as she was without a ring, fitted her with one then took a portrait shot before placing her quickly but gently back. She stayed put as I closed the shed door.
Many species are tolerant of being lifted off a nest and it’s all a question of knowing when and how to do it and being aware of species that cannot be safely lifted from a nest. When I eventually ring the youngsters from the black shed there will be a record of the complete family apart from the male: when and where the young were born together with data about the female parent plus information on the stages and final outcome of the nest from egg laying to fledging.
Yet another brood of young Swallows now close to fledging sat unflinching in the shed door as I took their photographs because they are well used to people in and out on a daily basis. But my Swallows are now so far behind with their first and any second nests that a third brood is highly unlikely for any pair, so we really need some decent weather through July and August to consolidate the limited success so far.