Some birds have a way of announcing their presence. They don’t call once, they do it over and over again. If you’ve ever heard the call of the Black Francolin you will immediately know what I mean!
A few days ago, during the early evenings I became aware of a bird call from what took to be an owl. I wasn’t sure which species of owl it belongs to but I was, as a bad birdwatcher, pretty sure that the call I was hearing was that of an owl. How to describe that call? I have to admit that I can’t write a description of a bird call for toffee. So I have chosen to lean back on wikipedia for this “The call is a querulous kiew, kiew”. Querulous – complaining in a rather whining or petulant manner. Ok, ok – I’m going to have to go out armed with a microphone and gather a sound recording one of these evening so that you too can have a listen!
Take a close look at those talons and you will quickly understand that hunting for food is a serious business!
On the first of July I again heard the bird calling repeatedly. Enough to cause me to get out of my armchair and pick up my binoculars and step outside to try to locate where exactly the sound was coming from. Getting out of the armchair in the heat of summer proved harder than finding the bird. S/he was perched on a dead branch of a nearby carob tree. An ideal elevated location from which to survey the recently harvested grain field that surrounds the tree looking for small insects and lizards. Our bird flew off and returned several times as I set up my long lens on my DSLR camera and attached the monopod.
Not wanting to frighten the bird off I take some quick shots. Moving up closer behind tree cover I take the sequence of five photos that includes the one featured above. This photo was at a range of about 100 metres with a Tamron 150-600 zoom at the ‘long end’.
Little Owl (Athene noctua)
The photo confirms the bird as a little owl (Athene noctua) one of two owl species commonly found hereabouts. Happily my subject is illuminated by the setting sun during what photographers refer to as the golden hour. With quite a breeze blowing ruffled feathers are in evidence. With an owl on the hunt there is much head swivelling left and right searching for prey. Take a close look at those talons and you will quickly understand that hunting for food is a serious business! I’m off to try to find out what the call is about. Is it a warning to others to keep off of this bird’s patch. Or perhaps is it a celebration after taking a tasty morsel? I shall have to watch closely when I next hear that distinctive kiew, kiew sound.