Little owls have long been a feature on Ramsey with many local birders visiting here or Skomer specifically to see them as they are so scarce on the mainland these days. Sadly even here numbers are dwindling. We used to have around 3 pairs most years, sometimes as high as 5, but this year we are down to just a single pair. Nothing has changed habitat or food availability wise on Ramsey, (Skomer has seen similar declines), so I can only assume it is something to do with over winter survival and less returning to breed each year
They are usually very secretive birds so tracking the number of young fledged per pair is very difficult, it is rare to even pinpoint the various nest location in most years. This year however the solitary pair nested in the same place as last and, with a bit of perseverance with a trail camera, we were able to discover the nest site and capture it's success. The good news is our pair have fledged 3 noisy young so fingers crossed they survive this winter and bolster the breeding population in future years.
Little owls get bad press on seabird islands generally as they often target storm petrels (little owls are non native to the UK but are classed as 'naturalised' after all this time). I have never seen any evidence of ours feasting on our small stormie population with all the pellets I've dissected containing mainly beetle and vole remains. Our short-eared owls on the other hand did take a shine to our storm petrels one year but thankfully that appears to have been a one off, possibly during a poor vole year
Below is short video of the young little owls out of the nest for the first time, captured 2 nights ago
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