Monday, 28 May 2018

Swift box camera

One of our swift boxes, put up early last year, has a nest for the second year running:

See video here:
swift video

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

first Barn Owl eggs and chicks of 2018

At one of our camera boxes, a female Barn Owl laid her first egg on 28th April, a fairly typical date, although a full five weeks later than last year.
She went on to lay a clutch of four eggs all of which hatched successfully.

At another camera box, on 8th May we found a female brooding a recently hatched chick, along with 4 eggs still to hatch.
We estimate that the first egg in this box would have been laid around 6th April.


Saturday, 21 April 2018

Tawny Owl kills Barn Owl intruder

Tawny Owl(f) incubating next to dead Barn Owl
Events took a dramatic turn at this Tawny Owl box.

A Barn Owl entered the box and fought with the much larger female Tawny Owl.

In the melee the 4-day old Tawny Owl chick was killed.

After a 2 hour struggle, the Barn Owl was killed by the female Tawny Owl.

Part of the conflict can be viewed here:
Warning: younger viewers may find this footage distressing.
Tawny Owl and Barn Owl fighting


The Tawny Owl resumed incubating the remaining egg, but the egg did not hatch and the box was abandoned a few days later.

Footnote: the Barn Owl was unringed, and not one of the resident pair from the box 500m away. It was a female fledged last year, so was probably trying to evict the Tawny Owls and take over their nest site.


 

Friday, 16 March 2018

first Tawny Owl egg of 2018

Tawny Owl(f) with first egg


The snow and cold of early March did not delay this female Tawny Owl from egg-laying for very long, as the first egg appeared on 16th March.










Tawny Owl(f) incubating amid snow

But with more snow arriving on easterly winds on 17th March, she probably wishes she'd waited a few more days.

Update:
The clutch was completed with a second egg.
The first chick hatched 16th April.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Saturday, 3 March 2018

A wintry start to spring

Standard advice for siting owl boxes is to face them away from the prevailing south-westerly wind and rain. However the start of March saw a week of snow-storms driven across the UK on strong easterlies.

Tawny Owl(f) on bed of snow!

As a result several of our owl boxes have seen an ingress of snow. Though thankfully it seems not to have disrupted this Tawny Owl unduly (it hadn't yet started laying).

Whether this snowy cold snap has caused an increase in owl mortality, and will lead to a delay in egg-laying this year remains to be seen.
  








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: