Sunday, 28 January 2018

Nigel Snell R.I.P.

It was with much sadness that we learnt that Nigel Snell had died in hospital earlier this month, after several months of ill-health.

Nigel had a lifetime passion for wildlife, accumulating a knowledge of many areas of natural history. He was perhaps best-known for his role in the re-introduction of Red Kites to the Chilterns, being the project co-ordinator for English Nature and the RSPB.

When BBOG was first formed, Nigel's help was invaluable in introducing us to the landowners in the Hambleden Valley, so we could monitor the Barn Owl boxes that he had installed in the past.

Nigel was always generous with his time and advice. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

An obituary in the Henley Standard can be found here:


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Honey bees rescued

Honey Bee colony in a Little Owl box

We often find wasps and hornets taking up residence in our owl boxes.

But this month's surprise was to find an active colony of honey bees occupying one of our little owl boxes.

With the help of a local bee-keeper we were able to relocate the colony to a bee-hive where they were provided with enough food to see them through the winter. Honey bees can survive the winter cold, but not a lack of food.

Honey bee populations have been in steady decline for many years due to a combination of threats including changing agricultural practices, neo-nicotinoids, the varroa mite pest, Asian hornets and climate change. So it is good to be able to give them a helping hand.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Dead Owls on M40 Motorway

Should you see a dead owl on the M40 please contact us asap by email (below) or phone with details of the location (East or West-bound carriageway, hard-shoulder/lane/central reservation, nearest km marker/exit, date and time).
We will arrange for Carillion, the highways maintenance contractor for the M40, to collect it for us to check if ringed and send on to the Predatory Bird Monitoring Service for analysis.


Thursday, 12 October 2017

2017 Barn Owl season - summary

2017 was the earliest and most productive Barn Owl nesting season so far in our area.

The first pair began egg-laying on 24th March, and the last pair on 23rd June.

In total there were 28 nest attempts from which a minimum of 67 chicks fledged successfully.

An average of 2.8 chicks fledged from the 24 nests that were fully monitored.

Full details will be published at year-end in our Annual Report.

Work has now begun on box maintenance, clearing out jackdaw nests, and installing additional cameras.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Barn Owl family successfully re-united

"tarred" Barn Owl
At one of our Barn Owl camera boxes, a clutch of seven eggs was near to hatching when one night the male disappeared.
He wasn't seen for the next two nights either, so we began leaving food for the female to help her continue incubating the eggs until his return.

On day four we learned that the local postman had rescued a "tarred" Barn Owl from the roadside nearby, and taken it to a wildlife hospital.

It was a male, so almost certainly the male from the box. He was cleaned-up (the "tar" turned out to be sticky molasses) and fed for a week until he was fit and well, and then released back where he had been found. It had been 11 days since he had disappeared and meanwhile two of the eggs had hatched.

Male Barn Owl, recovered and ready for release
We were relieved to see that on release the male Barn Owl flew straight to the nest box and was greeted warmly by the female.

On the first night after his return the male roosted in the box but did not bring in any food. The next night he brought in two prey items to the female. So we are hopeful that all is now well, and that nature can take its course.
Barn Owl chick (female) at 37 days old

Happy ending:
All seven eggs hatched, and four of the chicks went on to fledge successfully.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Barn Owls make an early start in 2017

We have now checked 10 of our regular Barn Owl sites where the boxes are fitted with cameras:

- Four of these already have complete clutches of 6,6,6 & 7 eggs, with first-egg-dates of 24th, 28th, 29th and 29th March.

- A fifth female is still laying, with the first egg laid on 4th April.

- Two further boxes have Barn Owls which have not yet started laying.

- Two other boxes contain stock dove nests and the last site is as yet unoccupied.

So the signs are for an early and productive nesting season in South Buckinghamshire.