Thursday, 11 September 2008

Little Owl release the 20th night

No Pictures again tonight (because of yet more rain). All is well and though they are now taking longer to come in, as in over an hour to take all the food. This as apposed to 15 minutes last week, the good news is all 6 are present. It was already very overcast when I arrived at the release site and yet again pouring with rain upon my arrival. What I was really interested in this evening was again how far they were coming from and some observations of them further away from the release site. There has not been any Little Owls around this site for many years, and this fits in so many areas that seem ideal yet they have disappeared. I have documented them living within and feeding around the extensive dry stone walls of this area and these form the borders of most of the field systems, yet as mentioned before there are hedgerows and plenty of typical good pasture land. It was with interest then when one of the local Farmers mentioned to me he was watching a Little Owl perched on his dry stone wall just 2 evenings ago. This is interesting as this is just under 1 mile from the release site. According to him this is the first Little Owl he had seen in well over 10 years.

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 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.

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