Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lookout Post

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.

Little Owl

Little Owl

Little Owl

Little Owl

Little Owl

Little Owl

Little Owl

Little Owl

Little Owl

Little Owl

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.



missing moments said...

Saw you today on camera critters ... some really nice photos ... new follower!

La sonrisa de Hiperión said...

Que bonito el buho... estupendas siempre tus fotos.

Saludos y un abrazo.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Thank you so much Phil, for the explanation, for now it makes it all makes good sense. These images... each one is so charming and the eyes so expressive. What a perfect morning you had then in getting such a grand sequence of images of the Owl;) Of course, I always love your Swallows and the summaries that follow along. I am still trying to get to photograph the Barn Swallows near here, with not a lot of good fortune, but I am patient~

Anna said...

Phil the owl is so so cute.
Swallows were always my favorite.
Thanks for sharing. Anna :)

eileeninmd said...

Wow, I just love your owls. They are just so cute. Great photos.

Frank said...

FABulous series of images Phil of the Little Owl .. a species I haven't seen locally for a very long time.

Russell said...

Really beautiful portraits of the owl. I've only ever seen wild hours in the darkest of nights.

grammie g said...

Hey the word on the lanes,sreets,and drive info!!
Pretty funny....
I love your Owls and those little swallows are pretty cute....
So I can say that your a Hoot and a hard pill to swallow??...haha!
Well maybe you don't get that like alot of the funny sayings you have there that I don't know it is late I need to go to bed!!

Gallicissa said...

Lovely sequence of Little Owl shots. Most of our owls are strictly nocturnal. The exceptions are Chestnut-backed Owlet and Jungle Owlet, which have day and night shifts.

Sgaorishal said...

I am hoping to check my swallows today and I am expecting to ring the first brood of the year - that's about 3 weeks to 1 month later than a 'normal'year. It's so late this year that I am wondering if I will have any second broods?

JWBateman said...

Hi Phil: Brilliant Little Owl shots.JWB.

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