Headed for a site called Segersäng this evening in the hope of Pygmy Owl, the location having been one of the best sites close to Stockholm for the species in recent years. The journey down took about 40 minutes on the train and I then had a walk of about 1Km to lake Tarnan. I had brought the camera, binoculars, scope and a digital recorder tonight. Earlier I had taped calls of a displaying Pygmy Owl directly off the computer at home through the speakers, taping using the inbuilt microphones on the Marrantz 661. With this kit in the backpack I arrived and waited on the crest of a ridge at the west of the lake from about 17.30. Once in position I gave a quick play for 40 seconds, no reply. There were birds in the area, two pairs of Black Woodpecker were very vocal as they disputed a border, one of the males flew over calling and gave a very nice view. I waited. At 17.45 and 17.50 I repeated the playback without response. Again at 17.50 I played the tape, as it finished and I listened. Almost straight away, at least 500m away, the distinctive mellow note of a Pygmy Owl drifted across the lake. The bird called for a couple of minutes and ceased, I played the tape again. I waited afer it stopped for perhaps 30 seconds and there it was, sitting in a spruce about 20 metres away, calling. I sketched the bird for seven or eight minutes as it looked straight at me, before flying straight over my head and moving south a little, now calling constantly...
A Pygmy Owl calling from atop a spruce tree, typical display behaviour for this cracking little bird..
I had just decided to move back to the road, when suddenly, a second bird started calling to the north! Both birds could then be heard calling to each other for several minutes and I found myself wishing my parabol microphone had arrived and I could record the birds! I listened in still conditions as darkness fell, before moving back to the road. I couldn't resist one more playback, again the bird was on top of me straight away, the bird reacting instantly to the recording. It sat over the road on top of a spruce calling and I grabbed a quick record shot at this point. The bird wasn't finished though and flew to within three metres of me, despite the fact the playback had ceased a couple of minutes previously, this time sitting in birch where I couldn't see it in the darkness. Eventually it moved off bit by bit, calling all the time. The second male was now calling again to the north. Then a different call cut through the night air, a roding Woodcock, just overhead. I sat back and listened, two Pygmy Owls and a roding Woodcock making a wonderful backdrop. A called it an evening at this point and wandered back to get the train..