On the 21st March I received this email from Sister Mary Julian, 2nd in command of the Holy Cross Convent at Costock;

We are very miserable as we do not seem to have any Barn Owls. I haven’t seen one since Christmas. We have some very aggressive Kestrels who I suspect are responsible. They drive off everything bigger than a blackbird.
They have even driven the Buzzards from their favourite perch. They scream and dive-bomb. The Buzzards have retreated to the other end of the wood!

I tried to reassure her, saying that Barn Owls can be very secretive and that at this time of the year, they’d be hunting at night and so wouldn’t be seen.

Mary Julian is a birdwatcher who met Chris Hughes in a hide at Rutland Water 3 years ago. She told him about their new convent being built at a farm at Costock, the number of birds she’d seen there and how they were planning to have wild flower meadows behind the farm. Chris told her about the Barn Owl Project and early in 2010 we erected a box in the ancient orchard behind the farm. By April, they were seeing Barn Owls, in May, I trapped a male and female in the box and in July, we ringed 4 chicks.

Ring chicks in 2010

In 2011, the same male had a new lady and again, I ringed 4 chicks.

On the 19th April, I received another email.

I had a vision of an angel of the resurrection at 6am on Easter morning. It was dressed in white and gold and sitting on a fence post outside my window. Alleluia! There are definitely 2 owls in the box and they are hunting at dusk in the usual places. See you in a few weeks time.

My reply was along the lines that if it had been anyone else, I’d have said something about having little faith!!

This week, along with Gordon Ellis, we were back to have a look in the box. There was

Sister Mary Catherine with Mother Barn Owl!

yet another unringed female and the usual 4 chicks which I

Mother Barn Owl!

will ring in 4 weeks time.

Gordon and I had a good morning; we found a new female with eggs and chicks in a box at Bunny, ringed 2 big chicks on Bunny Hill and 3 troublesome Kestrel chicks at Costock!

Our totals for the year so far are 14 boxes with Barn Owls, 14 chicks ringed and a further 28 eggs and chicks in boxes which will hopefully grow big enough to ring soon!


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