Thursday, 25 September 2008
Monday, 22 September 2008
The provided food has been largely abandoned, and also the number of items placed has been taken back to four. The time they take to come to the release aviary is within an hour and half of placing the food. Yet when they did appear last weekend on both nights they were more interested in each other than the food. I think as of this weekend we are missing two of the owlets as I can account for 4 of them quite easily by the calling or visually observed. We have had one Little Owl heard on a farm over 2 miles away and this is a new Little Owl, so maybe this is one of ours moved off and now establishing itself (thanks Paula for that observation, and please keep me posted). This Google Earth image plots the Little owls by observation on week 3-the white line =1 mile
More observations will continue during the week and at next weekend, we will take the food provided down even further to 3 items provided, this with confidence that they are self supporting. Oh I forgot to mention the weather is still excellent by the way we have not returned to the Summer cold and rain, we really are in a dry and warm spell for the Autumn, which is great for these Little Owls.
Any of you close enough are welcome to come and see them, indeed many of you already have, and I'm very grateful for your help with the monitoring of them. Once again thanks for everyone support with this project. May I appeal for help with raising funds for the telemetry equipment we desperately need, anyone with ideas let me know via e mail.
Friday, 19 September 2008
Thanks again to all you Little Owl fans for all the e mails. Keep em coming.
Monday, 15 September 2008
Note: This is not unusual to me as is something I have witnessed before in the many other releases I have done. What I am witnessing here is the beginning of the owls becoming self supporting and abandoning the food placed out for them.
1956 hrs. Number 4 Little Owl appears on top of the release aviary and again after a while takes food off of the hack board and fly's back the way it came, to the left. From then on as darkness falls we don't see any more Little Owls. Interestingly we do hear them, as we have one constantly calling from about 1 mile away. This whilst the others give vocal exchanges from around the site, but for the first time very spread out.
This big change in behaviour, as in becoming far more independent and also not rushing in for the provided food, all means that they are sustaining themselves. Interestingly it coincides with three days of really good weather the first run of days that have been without rain. This means that insect prey will be very much more abundant, so that its the weather change and not anything I have done that has caused this change in behaviour. What I can do now is reduce the food I'm providing safe in the knowledge that they are coping. Further proof will be needed and as I know where three of them are roosting I can collect their pellets during the later part of the week and just double check. I normally give them a good month at hack before reducing the food however, they are telling me that they are ready.
Thanks for all the nice comments about the Little Owl release, also good that other wildlife re-hab schemes are getting benefit from this information as well.
As we are drawing to a close on this story I must thank Animal Affairs and The Hawk and Owl Trust who have supported this release financially.
I will write about them again soon.
Well done Judith and I hope you enjoy your prize of buying me a drink in your local pub. I will be over later on this week and check your owl boxes as well.
Now this is fun, I will think up another competition.
Saturday, 13 September 2008
Answer via e mail please
Very annoyed Wren, mobbing the Little Owls
Thursday, 11 September 2008
After the food had gone from this evenings watch although now getting dark, I crept up and looked behind the release aviary which gave me reasonable view down across the fields. I managed to make out at least 3 of them perched up as silhouettes. One was on a wall about 300 meters away, another was sat out on a dead branch, whilst the last was seen through binoculars at approximately half mile away on the top of a wooden telegraph pole in the middle of a field.
Now getting too dark to see them I retreated back away from the release area, and as I was contemplating leaving a most wonderful chorus of Little owl vocalisation began. As mentioned before this is a really great sign showing some good almost aggressive behaviour meaning, they are now well into sorting themselves out. It was easier this time time pick out all 6 calling as the places they were calling from were quite far apart from each other.
Many thanks for all the e mails I'm getting about the Little Owls progress, and indeed the offers for help with monitoring them, those of you are local will be contacted as to how you can help with this. I have also had a number of questions about the release method used to which I will try and upload onto my website www.chrissperring.com a document which will fully explain the methods used and why it gives them a better chance of establishing themselves which of course lead towards safe yet natural distribution. Lastly I have had a request about supplying a map of their progress, this as a kind of how far they are moving away etc. This is a great idea so thanks. I'm already plotting their activity of Google Earth, I could save this as a j-peg and then upload it as a picture. If anyone has any better ideas please let me know. Also I have had 2 different people ask why we did not put telemetry tags on them. I think I had already covered this, but the reason is quite simple we can't afford it, which is why we need great volunteers out helping to collect data by observations in the field, and of course its a great fun project to get involved with.
Thursday, 4 September 2008
My hair stood on end with excitement at seeing them all back in these terrible conditions and the fact they are now roosting (or most of them) further away from the aviary.
Interestingly only 2 of them choose to take the food into the aviary to eat all the others once they had the food withdrew away from the aviary back into the local trees. I had promised to monitor their activity away from what I shall now call their local site (release aviary) The conditions have been too bad to achieve this, but as all are OK and present I do hope to achieve this early next. week. For those of you with an interest in wild owls it does show why this year Little Owls have done so much better than for example Tawny or Barn Owls, they do not need their stealth or silent flight therefore they can over come any problems hunting or just flying in these what seems at times monsoon conditions. I will leave this post with some more good news on Little Owls. I have been monitoring the fortunes of the Little Owls in the Gordano Valley since the 1970's and this year is the first year in the last 8 years that Little Owls have been heard anywhere near my house, yet their back, and now their yelps are filling the evening air at this very moment. What a welcome return!
The Little Owls mentioned in this blog have all been reared and rescued by Secret World and past on to me for release so please do go and see the great work of Secret World at www.secretworld.org
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
I did two talks over the loud speaker system, to which my message was for everyone to get involved with Wildlife Conservation within their own area, and that we can make a difference (sorry I don't like the messages from the doom and gloom merchants, as where there's life there's always hope). Present also at this event were representative of already very successful local wildlife groups. This is local people taking direct action for nature conservation within their own areas. It was great to see families coming along to event like this, which really did bridge the gap between green environment issues and nature conservation. For once it felt that when I was doing my two lectures I was not preaching to the converted but talking to new people. I was proud to have been apart of this event and I do really hope they invite me back next year. Well done to the organisers, brilliant event!
With binoculars I could make out what was of so much interest, and that was another Peregrine. This one was making its way north to south, indeed if it were not for the first Peregrine I would have never have noticed the second. The first Peregrine closed in, as the second now began moving at speed, but it was trying to get away from the first. The first Peregrine reached a height above the second then dived at it. No sooner had the aerial battle started then it was over as the second Peregrine disappeared from view. The first Peregrine then turned back, but this time kept its height and continued on its patrol. These are the mighty hunters of the Bird of Prey world. Most people rave at watching their aerial hunting skills others however misunderstand them because they are hunters. I think its inspiring that in the year 2008 when we have so much doom and gloom in the conservation world here is bird which has recovered well and become successful after many years of repeated persecution. In my opinion there is only one other Bird of Prey that beats the Peregrine for aerial skill and that's the Hobby!
Enjoy your local wildlife watching.