Lit­tle by name and by na­ture

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

WORK­ING for The Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side I learn some­thing new ev­ery day.

For in­stance, I was at a re­serve with my cam­era the other day and I was told: “There are some lit­tle owls sit­ting in a bush out­side.”

Nat­u­rally I thought: “How lovely, some lit­tle barn owls or baby tawny owls. Fluffy lit­tle things. Lovely!”

On ar­rival at the spot I re­alised that this was nei­ther of those species.

They were, in fact, lit­tle owls. I have never told my col­leagues this story, it would be too em­bar­rass­ing. This goes back to the peo­ple who name wildlife – com­mon blue but­ter­fly, lit­tle ringed plover and com­mon frog – come on guys and gals, let’s make them a lit­tle bit more in­ter­est­ing.

For in­stance, smoky blue but­ter­fly or dinky ringed plover would ap­peal to a wider au­di­ence. And what about the green, spot­ted, croaky, hop­pity frog?

Lit­tle owls were in­tro­duced into the south and east of Eng­land in the late 1800s and did pretty well, mov­ing into Lan­cashire in 1917.

They had com­pletely colonised the county by the late 50s.

The Lan­cashire Bird At­las points out a de­cline this cen­tury by nearly 20 per cent, which is sim­i­lar to the rest of the coun­try.

Gen­er­ally this is down to lack of habi­tat.

The lit­tle owl is a small, brown bird with a short tail and yel­low eyes. It is a strik­ingly beau­ti­ful bird.

It is of­ten seen perched on branches or old tele­graph poles.

You can ex­pect to see it in hedgerows or in parks, on old trees. It nests in hol­low trees.

Once paired up, a cou­ple will stick to­gether, so it’s not un­com­mon to see them out court­ing, sit­ting to­gether on a branch. If you spend a lit­tle time you might be lucky enough to see a lit­tle owl hunt­ing. It will sit on its perch scan­ning the sur­round­ing floor. Once it spots its prey, the lit­tle owl will swoop down catch­ing the mouse or other vic­tim in its claws or beak.

It is a lovely thing when a new species comes on to your radar and learn­ing about a sin­gle species at a time is a good way to get to know your lo­cal wildlife.

It’s a great DIY ed­u­ca­tion method for any kind of wildlife – mam­mals, birds, bees and but­ter­flies.

If you can’t get out to na­ture re­serves on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, just sit in your gar­den and see how many dif­fer­ent kinds of bees you can iden­tify.

You might be lucky and find an amaz­ing num­ber. There are 25 dif­fer­ent types of bum­ble­bee in the UK.

And if you can think of any bet­ter names for the wildlife around you, send me a mes­sage by mail, or on Face­book and Twit­ter on @lanc­swildlife.

I will men­tion the best ones in fu­ture col­umns.

To sup­port the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side, text WILD09 with the amount you want to do­nate to 70070.

●● A lit­tle owl pho­tographed by Darin Smith

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.