Its one week since the door on the release aviary was opened. The Little Owls have not let me down with their antics. I predicted that they would begin to roost away from the aviary which they have indeed been doing. However towards the late afternoon the aviary has been filling up again with Little Owls until feeding time. By Wednesday (5 days after release) only 1 Little Owl was in the aviary come feeding time, which occurs around 1830 hours BST this being an hour or so before sunset (what sun, that's a joke) So I settled back on my watching log to monitor how many of the owls came back for food (dead day old chicks) that I placed out on the hack board. Well obviously the cheeky one inside the aviary came straight out some 10 minutes after I placed the food, grabbed a chick and went straight back inside to consume it. Now it takes time for a Little owl to eat one chick, all of around 4/5 minutes by my timings. Another Little owl appeared to my left headed for the hack board grabbed chick and flew straight up into the large tree next to the aviary, now though out of my view under heavy leaf canopy. Darn it, the mobile phone rang! I had to walk back to my car, and go to my diary to confirm a booking for a lecture. This took all of 12 minutes, ish. When I returned to settle back on my log I'm blowed if all the chicks had gone that's 6 of them.
I missed the other owls returning but this proved they must have been close by. The next day (morning) I returned to the site and just sat and watched for any movement. No one was inside the aviary however there is a line of evergreen trees that spread to the south of the release aviary and my eye was drawn to these as one by one the Little Owls as in 6 of them revealed themselves every so often coming out of the evergreen to look around, and not seeing me 2 of them flew towards the aviary, to sit on top and chase insects, crane flys. Whilst another appeared quite close to me on a fence post concentrating on movement below it in the long grass.
So to conclude, its good news and clearly. I will monitor them again over the weekend but all Little owls seem to be present and correct they are so far not venturing far from the release site, but that is to be expected. So one week after release as far as I'm concerned everything is on target and to plan. None of them have been seen by anyone over 300 metres from the release aviary, however that does not mean to say that when no ones looking they don't. It does give us a good indications that they are becoming more secure finding their own roost sites, and that observations of their hunting is increasing. This activity is though very local to the release site, which for us is great as we can still observe them. More to come on this story.