Wednesday 13th July 2011: A couple of years ago, I had a call from a man in Keyworth who was getting regular visits to his garden from a Barn Owl. It was a very large garden with some wild grassland and I’d had other reports of Barn Owls in the area. However, I had a few misgivings about Barn Owls actually breeding so close to human activity but against my better judgment decided to give it a try and hung a box on a wall in a quiet area around the back. As there was a plague of Jackdaws in the area, I decided to experiment and built a ‘Jackdaw Proof Box’ that had a zig zag tunnel entrance designed to prevent the Jackdaws from filling the box with long sticks. Last year, we were rewarded with breeding ………………. Jackdaws though the sticks inside were minimal.
Early this year, the householder told me that he’d seen a Barn Owl fly out of the box; I advised him to keep disturbance to a minimum and that I’d be round in mid-May; when I did get there, I found a pair of Barn Owls on eggs and tonight, I ringed 3 nice chicks. This job is full of surprises!!
Thursday 14th July: A few good boxes to look in today with the promise of a lot of chicks.
The first was at the new convent on Bunny Hill and Sister Mary Julian, resplendent in wellingtons met us on arrival, together with a few guests. It’s always a worrying time when you open a box with a lot of people waiting in anticipation of seeing some chicks. I always tell them that chicks are not guaranteed, just to cover myself; however, it was no worries as there were 4 chicks in the box and everyone was happy.
Remarkably, the next 4 boxes we went to also had 4 chicks so we were flying and went to the last box of the day confident that there’d be more to ring here. It was a lesson into just how unpredictable this can be. In late May this box had 3 small chicks, 2 eggs and a cache of 9 voles and a shrew. If ever a box held chicks, this was it; we even saw a Barn Owl fly over so you can imagine my surprise when I found the box completely empty with eggs, chicks and voles all gone. Just one of those mysteries that happens occasionally and without box cameras, its impossible to know what happens.
Looking on the bright side, we had another 16 chicks ringed which included our 600th chick for RUBOP!!