Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Final boxes of the year

Tawny Owl box - Marlow Sports Club
Yesterday saw us putting up the final boxes of the year - two kestrel boxes and two tawny owl boxes.

Thanks to the support of Paul Sambrook, Chairman of Marlow Sports Club, one of the tawny owl boxes is located within the Sports Club grounds.

As tawny owls are regularly heard calling in this area, hopefully a pair will use this box for nesting next year.


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Ringing Tawny and Barn Owls

While out checking owl boxes last weekend we found one box with a pair of tawny owls and another box with a pair of barn owls. We were able to ring all four birds.

Rufous (L) and Grey (R) Tawny Owls 

From their size, both adult tawny owls appeared to be males, which can be up to 20% smaller than females.

The pair showed examples of the colour variation seen in this species. In the UK rufous coloured birds are twice as common as the greyer ones.


Male Barn Owl
Female Barn Owl
The barn owls were an adult male and female pair.

The smaller male has pure white feathers underneath.The larger female has dark speckling on the white of its underparts, just visible in the photo. 

The wing feathers are also much darker on the female.


Lucky escape for a Tawny Owl

Tawny Owl stuck in the stove flue

This tawny owl must have been looking for a warm bed, and went down the chimney. It got stuck in the flue-pipe for nearly two days before the residents discovered it, and skilfully managed to free it.

Luckily the wood-stove hadn't been lit!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A Kestrel box day...

Hambleden Valley "Raptor Hotel"
A busy morning today saw us:
  • erecting a barn owl box at Westhorpe.
  • putting up a kestrel box at a site along the Marlow to Lane End road where kestrels are frequently seen.
  • adding a kestrel box to a pole with a regularly used barn owl box in the Hambleden Valley, where kestrels often hunt. 
All three new boxes have a good chance of being used next year.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

2014 - best ever breeding year for Barn Owls

Following a disastrous 2013, this year has proved to be the best on record for barn owls, kestrels and tawny owls.
In 2014 barn owls produced an average of 4 fledglings per breeding attempt  - the highest level seen since the BTO Nest Recording Scheme began in 1966. Let's hope that many of these fledglings survive the winter to breed in 2015.
The BTO report on the 2014 breeding season can be viewed at:


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Checking Bisham Woods Tawny Owl boxes

Today was spent checking the dozen or so tawny owl boxes in Bisham Woods. Inevitably there were several squirrel dreys and old stock dove nests to be cleared out. More unusual though was to find an unhatched mandarin duck egg in one box.
Encouragingly two of the boxes held roosting tawny owls, which bodes well for next year's nesting season.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Hambleden Valley boxes

Today we put up a new barn owl box at Turville and also replaced an old barn owl box on a pole in the Hambleden Valley, which was showing signs of weather damage . The old box had been well used over the years with a build-up at least a foot deep of old pellet debris, and had an a barn owl roosting in it.

Turville barn owl box
Hambleden Valley barn owl box

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Boxes at BBOWT Warburg reserve

BBOWT Warburg "Raptor Hotel"
Last week at the BBOWT Warburg reserve, with the help of Martin of the BBOWT staff and David a BBOWT volunteer, we managed to replace an old dilapidated barn owl box and install a new kestrel box on a larch pole kindly sourced by Giles the reserve warden. As the previous box had been well used by barn owls, our hopes are high that the new box will be occupied next year.