Friday, 30 December 2016

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Last 2016 brood of Barn Owls ringed

A recently fledged Barn Owl

Last week we ringed our last Barn Owl chicks of the year - a brood of two, aged about 40 days old. It will be November before they are fully fledged.

Egg laying at this nest started on 21st July. So it has been quite an extended breeding season, with egg laying by the earliest pair starting in mid-April.

This brings the number of pulli ringed at our boxes this year to 27, slightly higher than in 2015, and from fewer nest attempts.

New box transporter

Here is our new mode of transport for carting owl boxes and ladders across rough fields:


Friday, 2 September 2016

Video of barn owl chicks

Several of our Barn Owl boxes are now equipped with cameras, allowing us to monitor the nesting cycle in more detail.

The link below is to a video of a brood of four Barn Owl chicks, aged between 40 and 50 days old. The oldest should be ready to fledge in another couple of weeks.

video of barn owl chicks

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Barn Owls - August 2016 update

Our second round of Barn Owl box checks revealed that 3 pairs began nesting in July, with the latest "first egg date" of 21st July at one of these.

This brings the number of nest attempts in our boxes this year to 16. A further 11 boxes held non-breeding adults.

So far we have ringed 15 pulli at 7 nests, with 5 broods still to be revisited.

The indications are therefore of a later and below average nesting season.


Sunday, 26 June 2016

Barn Owls - June 2016 status

Efforts over the second half of June were focused on checking our Barn Owl boxes.

So far 11 active nests have been found -  some containing chicks already old enough to be ringed, while others were still at the egg stage . This is well down on last year's level.

A further 16 occupied boxes held either single birds or pairs which have not yet started to breed. Some of these birds have already started their annual moult - an indication that they will not now breed this year.

The adult retraps provide valuable survival data for our RAS study (Retrapping Adults for Survival).

It looks like the combination of low vole numbers and persistent rainy weather has prevented many pairs from breeding.

Hopefully the weather in July will improve allowing the adults to provide enough food for their young and perhaps triggering some of the remaining pairs to breed.

In addition three broods of Kestrel, one of Little Owl, and two of Tawny Owl, have been ringed this year.
Kestrel chick

Monday, 6 June 2016

Tawny Owl season 2016

With the Tawny Owl breeeding season coming to an end for this year, we have found five Tawny Owl nests in our boxes. This is the highest number of any of our three years so far.

Two of these nests contained chicks old enough to be ringed, but the others had failed at either the egg or chick stage.

Hopefully next year will be a more productive year for them.

Tawny Owl - adult
Tawny Owl chick

As usual we also found several pairs of Jackdaws and Stock Doves nesting in the boxes, as well as the  inevitable squirrels.

Stock Dove


Wednesday, 2 March 2016

State of the UK Barn Owl Population 2015

The Barn Owl Trust has recently published a report on the UK Barn Owl population in 2015, available by clicking on the following link:

State of the UK Barn Owl population 2015

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Little Owl

Little Owl

While out making repairs to a Little Owl box ahead of the nesting season we encountered this little chap.

Hopefully a sign that the box will be used for nesting again this year.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Barn Owl nest box cameras

Over the winter we have been installing cameras into some of our regularly used Barn Owl boxes. There are now 7 boxes with cameras installed. The miniature cameras are equipped with infra-red LED's for capturing black and white images in the dark.

The cameras will allow a more complete monitoring of Barn Owl nests through the breeding cycle.

Roosting Barn Owl

The photo shows a screen-shot of a roosting Barn Owl at one of our boxes on a National Trust site.



Thursday, 21 January 2016

National Trust owl boxes

Barn Owl (female)

With great help from Head Ranger Neil Harris, and Rangers Jerry Page, Matt Shrimpton and Steve Kirkpatrick, we have added further Barn Owl and Tawny Owl boxes to the existing Barn Owl and Kestrel boxes at National Trust sites in the Chilterns Countryside, West Wycombe and Hughenden areas.

One box contained a roosting pair of Barn Owls, and we were able to ring the female shown in the photo.

We also fitted a camera to one of the Barn Owl boxes to facilitate monitoring of any nesting activity this year.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

BBOWT Barn Owl boxes

Woolley Firs barn owl box
A further Barn Owl box was installed at BBOWT Woolley Firs last week.

The box had been kindly donated to BBOWT, and reserve manager Dan Akam and volunteers Sam and Stuart installed a pine pole we could attach it to.

We also visited BBOWT Chawridge Bank SSSI, to clear out squirrels from two Barn Owl boxes there, and to relocate the boxes more favourably.