Owl Right Then!

With Saturday’s Kestrel fest prompting it’s own blog, I am a little out of sequence now, so time for a bit of back-tracking on recent sightings.

I had a day off last Tuesday and managed to squeeze in a late morning visit to Cranford Park. My fellow patch-ite Wendy had messaged me the previous Saturday with a brief sighting of a Little Owl in the park.

It was her report of one around this time last year that put us in contact with each other and started me visiting Cranford more often.

The first noise I heard on entering the park was a raspy hiss coming from the same location we had seen last year’s birds. I edged around and sitting out in full view were two fledglings:

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A few head bobs, a long-range stare and then off they ducked into their nest box. Visible for all of around 3-4 minutes. I hung around for a while, scanning the branches all around for any sight of an adult but no luck. They are very hard to spot with the trees in full bloom and blend in so well that you can often be looking right at one and not realize it.

Although Little Owls usually only produce one brood we hope that the late spring and current good weather may yet produce a second.

An overcast sky with rain predicted for late morning meant I was on a bit of a timer on this visit. There was still plenty of activity within the woods with juvenile Great and Blue Tit criss-crossing the trees.

A quick check at the Kestrel nest yet again showed no signs of any activity and hopes for a woodland Kestrel brood are all but dashed for this year.

This Green Woodpecker was the only other pic I managed to grab whilst in the woods.

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Completing my short circuit I headed back for the Little Owl nest box to be met by another local birder, Sue. Apparently my text to Wendy confirming the fledglings had been forwarded to Sue. In twitcher style she and Jasper the birding dog, made for Cranford.

Sue’s arrival also coincided with an influx of dog walkers. Unfortunately for Sue’s chances of getting a Little Owl tick, they were noisy dog walkers with even noisier dogs. After 20 minutes of waiting, tutting and general sighing at both two and four-legged noise machines, a small brown ball shot from the nest box tree. We had just enough time to catch a sight to confirm it as an adult Little Owl before it was lost in dense foliage. Sue had her tick and I had, albeit fleetingly, a sighting of an adult.

While staking out the Little Owl location, Sue also heard a Nuthatch call from the same tree but this remained as elusive to the eye as the adult Little Owl.

Despite this being a short visit other sightings were Great Spotted Woodpecker (adult and juvenile), Blackcap and a female Kestrel hunting over the headland. A few pics of this on my Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/94900571@N05/

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