One of the first boxes I looked in yesterday was empty except for a long-dead adult Barn Owl. This was very flat and stiff and to get rid of it, I went to skim it into the hedge bottom like a grotesque Frisbee. However, as I did this, a claw stuck into my thumb and drew blood and it was very sore last night; so even when dead, they can still get you.
Gotham continues to be a stronghold for Barn Owls in Rushcliffe with breeding pairs in boxes on 3 sides of the village and all are boxes that have had regular use over the last few years.
We visited these boxes yesterday and weren’t let down. The first had 3 big chicks, the adults having already moved away to a quieter location, only visiting the chicks to deliver food.
The 2nd is on a farm with 2 boxes close together. The usual breeding box held only the male who departed as we approached while the female and 2 chicks were found in the other box; the first time they’ve bred in this box while using the other one in 7 of the last 9 years.
The 3rd box is in the extensive spread of Kim who prefers living in the micro-climate provided by Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station to Southern Florida from where she hails.
Kim and Lindsay concentrate of growing great Barn Owl habitat and since we put their box up in July 08 they’ve been rewarded with broods every year since 09 and produced 17 chicks including the 4 beauties we found today. The female here is an old bird for a Barn Owl; I ringed her as an adult in 05 when I reckon she was a year old which make her 8 years old and her chicks must have been laid early as the eldest was almost ready to fly.
Most annoying today was a pair by the Trent; we have a nice box here but nearby is a tree hole which in the past has been used by Little Owls and last year by a Tawny Owl.
As we approached the box, a Barn Owl flew from the hole and looking down using my torch, I could see a female Barn Owl and 4 eggs, well out of reach; you give them a nice box and they thank you by using a tree hole!!
Another surprise was finding a Barn Owl with chicks at
Sutton Bonnington. The box is in its second year and was used by Little Owls last year. This female with tiny chicks and eggs still to hatch was ringed by me as a chick in a box on Bunny Hill last year.
We finished the day at West Leake where we had the pleasure of ringing 3 Little Owls; super little birds that show no fear!!
Thanks to Chris Hughes for helping out!!