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.

Friday, 24 March 2017

First Barn Owl egg of 2017 laid 24 March

The first Barn Owl egg of 2017 was laid on 24th March in one of our owl boxes fitted with a camera.

This is a couple of weeks earlier than in previous years, and is hopefully the precursor to a productive breeding year in 2017.

1st egg: laid 24 March;    hatched 25 April
7th egg: laid 7 April;       hatched 8 May

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Barn Owl travels 65km

Typically young Barn Owls disperse up to 10km away from the nest site they fledge from. However some will travel further.

We've recently learned that a chick we ringed in 2015 at a site near to Marlow was found the following year breeding in a nest box 65km away in Northamptonshire.

Many thanks to Paddy Jackson who runs the Northants Barn Owl Project for reporting this bird.

This is an example of the valuable information generated by the BTO ringing scheme.


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Rescued Tawny Owl

After a weekend away, one surprised house-holder returned to find a Tawny Owl had found its way down the chimney and into the wood-stove. Happily the stove was not lit!

The Tawny Owl was well cared for and released that evening. Although a little dirty, it was otherwise none the worse for its escapade.

The owl turned out to be a female that had nested in a nearby box last summer, when it had been ringed. Hopefully she will stick to nest boxes in future!

This is the second time in two years that we've encountered a Tawny Owl descending a wood-stove flue.