Friday, 20 November 2020

Chistmas Common Farm Cluster

We've recently begun working with the Christmas Common Farm Cluster to roll-out a Barn Owl project. There are 18 farms involved in the Farm Cluster, spread over an area of East Oxfordshire and South Buckinghamshire.

The first task is to survey the farms and recommend on the suitability for owl or kestrel boxes.

Some of the farms already have owl boxes, most of which have never been monitored

Our surveying got off to a good start yesterday, finding a barn owl pair roosting in a box inside a disused barn.

Here is a  photo of the female:


Barn Owl female - 1 year old




Wednesday, 8 July 2020

A difficult Barn Owl nesting season

Due to Covid-19 we've had to carry out our Barn Owl monitoring in a "socially distanced" format. Despite this, we've managed to check 56 of the most likely boxes within our RAS area.

The results show a very poor breeding season with just seven nest attempts, four of which failed at the egg stage. No doubt owing to a lack of voles for prey.

Four chicks have been ringed at the three surviving nests.

It will be interesting to see if this picture is repeated across the region.

As last year was a bumper breeding season, this shouldn't pose a long-term risk to the local Barn Owl population.

Barn Owl from West Berkshire

A female Barn Owl found nesting in a box near Marlow had been ringed as a chick in 2016 at Englefield, West Berkshire - a distance of 28 km.

This is only the fourth Barn Owl that we have encountered so far that was ringed outside our area.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Another water trough casualty

We received a report this week of another water trough casualty - this time a Tawny Owl.

Luckily the bird was rescued before it died, and taken to Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital where hopefully it will be rehabilitated.

This is a reminder of just how dangerous water troughs can be to wildlife. But by simply installing a suitable float, they can be made safe - see here water-troughs

So do please get in touch if you have a water trough on your land.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

2020 - a later breeding season for Barn Owls?

The 14 Barn Owl boxes where we have fitted cameras usually provide a good indication of the timing of the nesting season in the Middle Thames area.
But with the Covid-19 lockdown, we are only receiving information from six of these boxes where the householders are able to monitor the cameras for themselves.
All six boxes are occupied by Barn Owl pairs, but as yet egg laying has not started.
This suggests that 2020 might be a later breeding season than we've seen in recent years.

Update: The first eggs were laid at two of these camera-boxes on 12th and 15th May.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Barn Owl drowned in water trough

Sadly a Barn Owl has recently been found drowned in a water trough in our area.

This was a six year-old male bird that had bred regularly in one of our boxes. This year it had raised a first brood of 3 chicks, and its mate was incubating a second clutch when it died. The second clutch was subsequently abandoned.

Unfortunately, drowning in water troughs is not an uncommon occurrence for Barn Owls. Having got into a trough to bathe, they cannot then climb back up the steep slippery sides and become water-logged and drown.

But there is a simple and effective solution - to install a purpose-built float as shown here:

Trough float - plastic frame

Please go to the page Water Troughs for information on this.