The weather forecast suggested conditions were likely to be less than optimum for some "formal" survey work I had planned so I fell back on Plan B and, as one might have guessed, the weather became better as time went on!!
Pursuing my continuing hunch of locating an elusive species on Islay I spent the very early morning ( up to 0800 hours ) tramping around suitable woodlands attempting to locate any crow's nests and, thereby, the outside possibility of hearing the squeaky "begging calls" from young Long-eared Owls. Well, whilst the phenomenon of such calling hungry owls might be a feature of this time of year, the survey "method" is not to be recommended. Better to let sheer serendipity, , good luck, coincidence, or whatever, take over!! The nearest I got was disturbing a couple of bewildered Hooded Crows, no mean feat in itself, and witnessing the crashing exit of what was undoubtedly Red Deer within the conifer woodland blocks I explored.
So I retired for a cooked breakfast (mega!) and a self-imposed "team talk" about the need for focus, directed attempts and such like. So, out I went for a few more hours but...nothing!! Perhaps said youngsters don't call within the day, and only in the evening, when they get really hungry? They're there, I'm convinced of it, but proving it is a different matter. However, as an illustration of owl enthusiasm, recent work in Turkey has resulted in the location of Brown Fish Owls to which some very regulated visits are now allowed ( see BirdFinders UK for details....this must be worth 5% Vaughan! ). Look at the Collins Field Guide for what is a very exciting status assessment. Always a species I've wanted to see , I've every intention of joining one of the trips in 2012 to experience what is an utterly iconic species within the family.
One aspect of interest is that I've recently come across locally three pairs of adult Stonechats chasing around and acting as if spring had just emerged. But no young from early breeding attempts in evidence. Does this suggest early breeding attempts have failed and that they're settling down for a second attempt? The encouraging element is that they are actually there, in residence and were not cleared out by the ferocious weather of last winter!!!