Thursday, 1 April 2010

Next Term's Wildlife 2: Little Owl

Little Owl (c) 2010 Richard Hampshire
In the 7 years since these classes began we still haven't encountered any Little Owls while the sessions were actually taking place. Tony Robinson's single sighting of one at Kiplingcotes doesn't count, as no one else saw it! However, I'm hoping to remedy this deficiency next term, as we are going to a site where they are virtually guaranteed. The Little Owl was introduced to the UK in the early twentieth-century, although fossil records show it used to be a native species. It is still fairly widespread in our area, as a multitude of sightings in December from Lockington, Etton Dykes, and Cottingham etc show, but it is a lot harder to see than it was in the 1980s. Little Owls feed on insects, worms, small amphibians and birds etc, and it's thought an increase in the use of pesticides has resulted in a decline in these very charismatic birds. The white markings above the eyes almost look like eyebrows, and lead some viewers to think the bird is frowning at them. The Little Owl also has the endearing habit of bobbing its head up and down while maintaining eye contact, which can look extremely comical. Unfortunately, it is a sight which is all too infrequent these days. If you haven't yet seen a Little Owl, then I'm hoping that those on the course won't be able to say the same by the end of June!

No comments: