Little Owl

I disturbed a bird the other day.  I was walking through the garden of the Old Forge and something broke cover.

DSM_8420Though I managed to get a hurried snap of it in flight, it was gone too quickly for me to see what it might be.

It was only later, alerted by the scolding call of a chaffinch, that I saw it properly and realised that it was a …

DSM_8416… little owl (Athene noctua).  I’ve only seen them before in Greece; perched high up and looking down at me from the crumbling walls of Molyvos castle.  Introduced to the UK during the 19th century, little owls feed on small mammals, birds (hence the ire of the chaffinch), beetles and worms.  The Old Forge owner has recently found a cache of dead mice and voles in one of the bedroom window frames.  It might be the owl’s larder; it might be the kestrel’s.

DSM_8417The owl didn’t stay around for long; what with being mobbed by small birds and intimidated by a slowly approaching clicking gardener.

DSM_8419I do hope I see it again and get a better photo of him/her (the sexes are pretty much indistinguishable).  I think there is something rather lovely and exotic about having a little owl at the Old Forge.

Though I don’t suppose the chaffinches agree.

31 thoughts on “Little Owl

  1. What lovely coloring owls have. I hope you get to see this one again on many occasions — I just looked them up, and see that they’re partly diurnal. How convenient for the bins-sporting gardener! My sister occasionally sees burrowing owls in SE New Mexico, which are about the size of your little owl, but I’ve never had the pleasure.

    Dead mice and voles are all right on principle, but not in the window frame.


    • I did have my binoculars (not bins, Stacy – for shame) in the car but it didn’t even occur to me to go get them. Rubbish bird-watcher, me. I like the sound of a burrowing owl and, looking at some images online, they are very like this one. And no, I haven’t seen the cache but I can’t imagine it was a pleasant discovery. Dave


    • Had hoped for better photos, Janet but thanks anyway. It was only visible for a moment so I only managed to snap about five shots. Hoping there will be another opportunity. (I had to rescue this comment from the spam dump – not somewhere you usually end up)! Dave


  2. Fab photos – did you use a DSLR?
    I saw an owl the other night when driving to a garden club meeting, I was so distracted I nearly crashed the car. It wasnt a barn owl as I have seen those before so assumed it was a tawny owl from its size.


    • Hi Chez, thanks. There are certainly days when I feel blessed – but they have felt a little few and far between during this never-ending winter. Be nice to do some gardening. Dave


    • Very jealous that you have barn owls, Amelia. We do have them in the vicinity of the Priory (they’ve roosted in the past in one of Margaret’s barns) but I’ve not seen them. I’ve been planning to build a barn owl nest-box – I really must get on with it. Dave


      • My husband is convinced the barn owl wants to nest in our atelier that it sometimes roosts in (I’m not so sure). He has bought a very old wooden trunk that was the perfect size to modify for a barn owl nest. He has hoisted it up and has it on the inside wall of the atelier and is waiting. We saw one flying alongside an A road near here at 18.30 a few days ago. Strange animals, seemingly a lot of barn owls are killed on the roads here.


    • Certainly not a little rodent problem, Allen but I can’t see these owls tackling a rat. And sadly they’re not big enough to tackle rabbits either with which the Old Forge is overrun. D


  3. I’m envious of the images; I only hear our little owls only only see them at dusk during summer. Our roof has always been their home; the first time I ever slept at our house one was perched on the window cill when I awoke – magic. During summer I hear their strange call most of the night though it isn’t a disturbance. Christina


  4. Fantastic, its things like this that make gardening so wonderful, sharing the space with all the wildlife. We have them in our village but unfortunately have never seen one, tawny yes, barn yes, but I would love to see a Little Owl, lucky you!


    • I did feel lucky, Pauline and do wonder whether I’ll ever see him/her again. I was surprised it was getting mobbed as I always thought that they just ate beetles and the like. Live and learn. Dave


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