One of the biggest joys of the spring and early summer has been the residency of one particular chap in the orchard. A Little Owl took a fond liking to one of the larger young trees (still not much more than a twig with a couple of small branches) and could be seen perching there almost daily from early morning to late evening. Wonderful to see but very distracting as I was drawn to watching his every move – though actually he didn’t move very much. Now and again he’d fly down to the ground, presumably to catch some small critter, and then he’d be back in his tree in no time.
After about a month or so of taking up daily residence in the same tree he decamped to a fence post on the far side of the orchard, probably a lot more stable than the young tree, and with a hedgerow for cover behind him.
We believe he and a female have a nest close-by and they can often be heard in the evenings. We hope they are a breeding pair though we have not seen any evidence of fledgling owlets, as yet.
Currently he is less visible, though I still hear him calling during the night. Occasionally he will fleetingly appear on a garden obelisk close to the house, or in a tree close by, but is long gone before we can reach for a camera. It is as if he is just letting us know he is still around.
I have since stumbled across a research project for Little Owls with a mission to learn more about them and to help stop their decline. Anyone who spots a Little Owl in the wild can help by reporting sightings. To do so, or to learn more about the project and other related Little Owl projects, you can go to http://www.littleowlproject.uk/
Our Little Owl friend has been a hugely enjoyable but time consuming subject to photograph. If we were still using film I would have had hundreds of rolls processed I think! Funnily enough my two best photos of him by far were the very first one I took, and the very last. By the time I took the last one he was letting me approach to about 20ft of him, and I then quietly slipped away without causing him alarm.
Little Owl has become a kind of unplanned icon for the farm and we have had some lovely postcards made of him and owl-related items have started to feature in our online shop!