03 August 2012

Wollets and swifts.

The owls have successfully managed to raise at least two owlets or wollets as they are called here! (best not to ask really).  We've been hearing the owlets squeaking for a couple of weeks, even during the day sometimes, usually when the parents are on the wires under the eaves.  On Wednesday evening the parents brought them into the garden, or perhaps they simply fell in, being the nearest open space from their roosting trees. First of all they were on the chimney pots and one was waddling along the guttering waving its wings as they either got wedged in the gutter or maybe got wet. Falling off the roof before swooping off after an adult with much excited squeaking and qwicking.  Later on I was leaning on a upstairs windowsill doing a little star gazing when my eye was drawn to movement below me in the garden and there on top of one of the poles (a bit like the adult last week) was a small bundle of brown fluff with huge eyes it's head bobbing up and down and swivelling back and forth like a nodding dog before its knees got involved and the whole owl was bouncing up and down like a child's toy on a string.  It found the shadow on the lawn fascinating watching the darker patch as I moved my arm, even waving to watch the reaction.  This could only last so long before a new perch was required, apparently the distance between the colonnade pole and top of the bird feeder was just a little too long for a jump so a small wing flap was needed increasing the velocity and ultimately the impact of landing which made the feeder pole sway with the owlet on the top wobbling like a tight rope walker flapping its wings frantically as it tried to stay put. It did managed it and as the pendulum action decreased it was able to fold its wings in and even sat for a while looking like an owl should before hopping off again this time to try its luck on the washing line.  Washing lines are not intended for owls, even small fluffy ones and it fell off with a surprised eek, righting itself before landing on the lawn below.  Even owlets know that the ground is not the place to be so it hopped up onto the clothes prop to gain some height before taking off for the top of the colonnade pole again. Where it once again bobbed around trying to work out what it was, where it was and where supper was coming from.  This last question was soon answered as an adult bird flew through the garden with something in its talons and the youngster took off in hot pursuit.

It was a good night for wollet watching as the moon was full casting wonderful illumination across the garden. Despite that I didn't get any photos, I was too busy enjoying the little owl's antics to go and retrieve the camera from downstairs and I thought a flash would probably scare it away).  I might have a go if it comes back (and I'm around to see it!).

Last week we reported that the RSPB was worried about swifts (Summer's here but too late swifts) and we've also heard that the summer migrants are leaving the UK earlier than ever this year after a pretty dreadful year, so we've been watching ours carefully.  It looks like the Goathland summer visitors have fared better than elsewhere, the swift squadron that arrived in May numbered around six and although we've not seen the adult birds going into the past nest sites on the house the group has steadily grown and is now more than double with somewhere between 12 and 15 individuals - blithering birds won't stay still long enough or even slow down to let us have a good look and quick count, well they are called swifts for a reason.  This morning when out and about with the dogs there was more than the usual screaming in the air and high up against the glorious summer azure blue sky was a huge group of swifts, at a guess somewhere between thirty and forty birds.  They were circling on thermals or busy maybe decimating a large insect cloud they were too high up to tell each bird was appeared smaller than a little fingernail.  Getting back home and the martins were swooping about and chattering to each other, another sizeable group.  Somehow despite the terrible spring and awful start to the summer our visitors would appear to be doing OK, we're just hoping they stick around fro a while longer yet.

Back in the office the latest CJS Weekly has gone to press, this week there are 14 pages with 48 new paid posts of which 37 came direct to CJS.  there are also 17 adverts for volunteers and five pages of new along with details of the latest updates to the Training Directory.