I must admit I’ve been a bit uninspired by my birding prowess over the last month – since I reached 100 species at Windy Corner at the beginning of March, I’ve only managed to add chiffchaff to my yearlist, through a mixture of poor weather, not getting out as much as I’d have liked, elusive migrants and a few dashes of bad luck.
So tonight I decided to go on a mission to find little owl, a great bird to see at any time and a potential year tick. The plan was to walk my patch after work, and time is so I ended up on Rowel Lane – a spot I saw little owls fairly regularly last year – at dusk.
The walk was as uneventful as all my recent walks that way, with the most interesting birds being lots of singing chiffchaffs, a couple of treecreepers, and a grey heron keeping sentry at the fisheries. I think the goldeneye at Old Wheel Dam have gone for good now, and the tufted ducks seem to down to one pair.
At Rowel Lane at about 7.45pm my plan came together – a little owl could be heard calling, and a peek through binoculars at a weird-looking stone on top of a wall revealed it not to be a stone at all, but the owl itself! A finishing touch was a galloping brown hare at the same spot a few moments later, and the owly theme continued with hooting tawny owls close to the house on the way back.
It’s weird to think that in a few weeks swallows and house martins will be unavoidable as they reel overhead, and it’ll be hard to take a walk down the Loxley Valley without seeing and hearing a mix of blackcaps, whitethroats, willow warblers and garden warblers. But no signs yet!