Little Owl

Little Owl Athene noctua (Scopoli, 1769)

Little Owl Athene noctua vidalii

(Rare IR)

  1. One, 10th Sep. 1966 (S.E. Caola) See note 1 below.
  2. One, 21st Sep 1972 (per A.H. Davis).
  3. One, 7th Oct. 1977 (per A.H. Davis).
  4. One, 15th Feb. 1978 (per A.H. Davis).
  5. One, 23rd Feb. 1979 (per A.H. Davis).
  6. One, 28th Sep. 1980 (per A.H. Davis).
  7. One, 14th Dec. 1980 (per A.H. Davis).
  8. One, 15th Feb. 1981 (per A.H. Davis).
  9. One, 14th March 1981 (per A.H. Davis).
  10. Two, 12th Sep. 1981 (per A.H. Davis).
  11. Two, 18th Oct. 1981 (per A.H. Davis).
  12. One, 15th Nov, 1981 (per A.H. Davis).
  13. One, 5th-6th Oct. 1982 (per A.H. Davis).
  14. One, heard only, 4th Sep 1989 (D. Bowring).
  15. One, 25th Nov. 1989 (B.W.L.).
  16. One, heard only, 16th March 1991 (B.W.L.).
  17. Various dates to be added in due course during these intervening years.
  18. One, heard only, 30th May 2003 (N.R. Milbourne).
  19. One, 12th June 2010 (N.R. Milbourne).

Note 1: This date was taken directly from Sue Caola's diaries and may be the same record published as 18th September 1966 in Birds at Blagdon Lake, 1963-1983.

Howard H. Davis wrote in his A Revised List of the Birds of the Bristol District that the Little Owl Athene noctua is a "common resident and widely distributed". In Somerset Birds 1976, it is stated that there was a breeding record from Blagdon in 1976, but this doesn't specifically mention the environs of the lake. The BOC, Bird News, Oct. 1979 records sightings from among other places, Blagdon, but again doesn't specify at the lake. I have listed all the records given in Andy Davis' Birds at Blagdon Lake, 1963-1983. The Avon Bird Report 1987, indicates that Little Owl is noted as being present in Blagdon Lake tetrads on the maps accompanying the article 'The Avon Tetrad Survey of Breeding Birds, 1985-1987' by Richard L. Bland. So, although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of them being present around the lake, actual lakeside records are not so easy to come by.

There was a pair of birds that probably bred in Ubley during the 1990s, that we used to see on a regular basis sitting in an Oak Quercus sp. tree in the field immediately south of the Top End hide, so I've left a gap in the table between 1991 and 2003 which will be used to record dates of the Ubley birds when I get back to my diaries. Since the farmer removed part of the tree, they have not been seen, to my knowledge. We used to have Little Owls in the village of Blagdon in the 1990s too (pers. comm. Warwick White and my own sightings), but they seem to have gone too. The 2003 record was of a bird I heard calling while at Bell's Bush and the bird in 2010 was seen to fly from Ash Tree copse towards Grove Farm, Nempnett Thrubwell. It is my belief that Little Owls still frequent farmland in Nempnett, West Town, Butcombe and Aldwick on the north side of the lake, but they are rarely seen or heard by the lake, so I'd like to document all recent records (since 2000). Can you help?

Bibliography (sources of information)

  1. Bland, R.L. The Avon Tetrad Survey of Breeding Birds, 1985-1987. Bristol Ornithology Club.
  2. Caola, S.E. Personal Diaries 1965-68.
  3. Davis, A.H. Birds at Blagdon Lake 1963-1983. Bristol Ornith. 18: 102-116. Bristol Ornithological Club.
  4. McGeoch, J.A. (ed.). Somerset Birds, 1976. Somerset Ornithological Society.
  5. Taylor, S.M. (ed.). Avon Bird Report, 1987. Avon Ornithological Group.
  6. Youdale, G. (ed.). Bird News, Oct. 1979. Bristol Ornithological Club.

Updated 9 January, 2013