Saturday, 28 February 2015

Barn Owl Box Install

Another fine Barn Owl box made for us and installed.
A little late but you never know....
 Here it is all ready and lined with the finest bedding an owl can have!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Last few baskets for LEO

Last of the baskets up today at the wonderful hidden gem that is Gordon Community Woodland. It is getting close to nesting time and any owls will have most likely have already chosen a spot but you never know. II spotted this treasure on my wanderings there. Lots of lovely wild ground there and today I saw a Woodcock, in fact I nearly stepped on it! And a Greater spotted woodpecker called too.

Lots of rough ground means lots of voles which are dinner for owls!


I scrambled and scrabbled up some dusty Sitkas to place the baskets

Can you still spot it in this picture?

Although I didn't find any owl pellets anywhere on the site there 
were signs of somebody roosting regularly, so fingers crossed!

 Hairy beardie chap I met up a tree...

And a wee bird I spotted with BIG aspirations!
This Blue tit popped in and out of the box a couple of times then flew off. 
Wonder if there was a Tawny owl roosting inside...

Friday, 20 February 2015

Sponsor an Owl baskets go up at Bowhill!

Six new superb Long-eared owl baskets ready for go! 

Six lucky owls now have a cosy place to nest, and we will be back later in the Spring to monitor and ring under license any chicks. The young chicks look adorable - see the top right image at the top of the Blog - such gorgeous bright orange eyes! Long-eared owls do not build their own nests and look for old crow nests to lay their eggs in.

Michael Paton, Seasonal Ranger at Bowhill House and Country Estate set in motion an idea for Sponsored Owl Nests and has created a very nice project that we hope will have some very happy sponsors knowing they have created a home for one of our most amazing and yet most secretive owl species, the Long-eared owl. For further details of the sponsorship programme, contact Michael here.

I arrived to help Michael (in green) and Rory Powel (the one cutting up old coffee bean sacks), Bowhill's full-time range, to make the wicker baskets a little more snug and tempting.

Adding the first layer of sticks    A happy Rory!                 

The baskets each got a lining of sacking, some rings of sticks and twigs and a turf or earthy lining.

After an hour of making up the baskets, we headed off out into the wilds of the estate. Up in an area Rory'd had his eye on we found some excellent trees with good hunting ground for the owls. 

5 of the nests we placed in tall (and prickly!) Sitka trees

The final basket we placed high up in a tall Scot's Pine in an inviting fork. I climbed up, hauled up the basket, and fixed it in place.

And I reckon it's a winner!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015


A wild misty day in the hills a few days ago above Peebles. Striding down through the heather to check a wee ravine for any raven signs, I spotted this male kestrel hiding from the drizzle in the lee of a rowan. There is definitely something magical about watching a raptor at such close quarters without it knowing you are there. The noise of the rushing burn below had obviously masked my approach and I watched it shuffle about, preen, and eventually fly down out of sight.

Following a side burn up high into the hills I flushed some small birds and saw the flash of white rumps ahead of me. Wondering what it could be, I was very surprised to discover they were a party of 8 bullfinch - wonder what they were doing up here among the patches of snow! There was also a white mountain hare and a single male black grouse for company up there. On the way back to the car I was intrigued by this sycamore with its super flaky bark. Oh, and there was a new pair of ravens there too!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Valentines weekend

Valentine's day duties aside,  I felt like a bit of boxing was in order. I did try to persuade herself that putting up bird boxes was the ultimate romantic activity but she politely declined the offer! So I popped down to the highly romantic local Roulotte Retreat and, with the help of co-owner Alan Fraser, Roulotte Retreat now has its own fine tawny owl box, currently To Let, with fancy hand-made birch chips for bedding!

And in the woods nearby there was time before dark to put up another of the elm-fronted woodpecker box design. The box is slightly taller this time to allow for enthusiastic excavating, rammed with soft scot's pine punk, and with a male greater spotted woodpecker busy drumming nearby our chances are good.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Greater-spotted woodpecker box To Let

 Nice box with elm front and back, pitch pine(!) roof and floor, with an added floor layer to try and dissuade any keen woodpeckers from drilling right the way through the base, and packed full of dry, punky soft wood - surely irresistible!

Monday, 2 February 2015

Baskets are best!

Some good Long-eared Owl habitat with hawthorn and lots of rough ground full of voles and mices.
Today we augmented two IKEA baskets and fixed them at about 3m with strong cable-ties. See if you can spot it! Here it is close up.

The artist Emily Lang visited today and it was great to have some help although it's cold work standing around while I wrestled around inside the hawthorn trees.

Here I am sporting helmet, eye protection and padding to avoid the thorns. Looks quite thin now that branch I am hanging off but it was fine!

Sunday, 1 February 2015


Long-eared owl baskets sexed-up to make them a bit more cosy and placed 3m up in willows on a wetland reserve. Possibly a long shot?