I have had my trail camera on the roof of a barn in the same field as the little owls' nest box (in an old oak tree) since Sunday gone.
Sure, we've had some pretty woolly weather since then (wet and windy), but after photographing one of two (at least) owlets at the next box at the weekend - I wanted to see whether they would leave the relative safety of the box this week and start flying.
Plenty of dangers lie in their field (and beyond) - large crows, foxes, even buzzards I suppose - and the odd red kite - the owlets will have to find their feet (so to speak) and become fully independent by the autumn - if they get that far.
I went up to the barn this afternoon (just before the rains started again) to retrieve the trail camera and as it happens I did disturb one of the fledglings (they HAVE learned to fly.... just) under the shed.
As I approached the shed, the little owlet hissed at me and flew very clumsily onto a roof beam (just making it there with a lot of scrabbling and flapping) and then just glared at me like only little owls can.
I flew up my "packaway" ladder, grabbed the trailcamera and got out of the field as quickly and quietly as I could. I'm sure the owlet will be fine as I noticed it flutter back down to the ground as I sat in the car reviewing the results of the trail camera.
It (very possibly) was picking off wee beetles from the ground under the shed - quite a large proportion of little owls' diet is beetles (see the first part of the embedded clip!) and I dare say it was beginning to learn to hunt for itself. I'm sure at least one of its parents was around and I trust the second owlet was in the box still.
I do wonder are there just two owlets or will I see three like last year?
Anyway.... I am delighted to say that at least one of the two (at least!) owlets DID leave its box just after lunchtime today and join one of its parents on their main perch, the cattle shed, about 50 yards from the tree nest box in which the owlet was born a few weeks ago - and if you watch the whole of the embedded clip below (please enlarge the embedded viewer as normal to get a jerk-free playback), you'll see this owlet in HD quality, from this afternoon.
The clip was made by splicing together three clips from the week-
Clip 1 from Sunday (in the sleet??!!!) showing an adult spying a beetle and grabbing it.
Clip 2 from yesterday (Weds 13th) showing an adult coming out of its hidey hole for a spot of well-deserved sunbathing.... and.....
Clip 3 from today (Thurs 14th June) showing one of the owlets on shed with one of its parents.
I'll put the trailcam back in place sometime this weekend and see if I can get some footage of more than one owlet....
Until then, enjoy!