Saturday, 11 June 2016

Brilliant barn owls!

Barn owl box inspection time again, and there are a lot to inspect! The first visits of the season a few weeks ago were not very promising however, this time I am very happy to report we found some pure white gold! Last years vole crash year dramatically hit owls and raptors breeding success with many pairs in 2015 not even breeding at all. So this year really counts and now it looks like it will be a reasonable if slower season. The first box of the day was in fact a kestrel box and with the female sitting tight we quickly left. The first owl box of the day had a single adult with very smart dark markings on the facial disc; she also had quite a buff tinge to the breast. She is a new bird to the area and so fitted with a unique BTO ring she had her vital statistics (biometrics) taken and was returned to the box and to her nest of 3 gleaming moon-white eggs.

A short hike along a track took us to a box with....a stock dove on also on 3 eggs. On the last farm of the day we looked into four boxes. Last year's visit had owls in boxes that this year were either empty or had different barn owls in; I wonder where the previous owls have gone? Three of these boxes had broods of another species (more on this in a later post - a clue - it has blue eyes!). The fourth has a bonny barn owl and some very young owlets. See here for a great poster of the growth of a barn owl from egg to adult in 63 days from the Barn Owl Trust. Another great pic of young owlets on Arkive. and here is a pic of a day old chick! All our work is curried out under license as this is a protected Schedule 1 bird.