A regular reader of these blogs will know that nothing in Barn Owling is ever straightforward; something unusual nearly always happens which is good; it stops me being bored and hopefully keeps you entertained.
I had 2 helpers today; Neil who still wants to come along despite me writing unkind things about him in this blog and his lovely Daughter, Zoe who you’ve seen before and who will brighten any day with her presence!
Today was intended to be an easy day, a follow up visit to a farm on the southern edge of Keyworth where we’d found a lone female in a box on the 24th May. She’d been very heavy and I suspected that she was about to lay eggs.
However, the box held only a Stock Dove and we moved on to another box nearby and there she was with a newly hatched chick and 4 eggs. It takes Barn Owl eggs 4 weeks to hatch from laying so she must have laid her first egg within a couple of days of us finding her.
The Landowner here had told me earlier that he’d seen a Barn Owl several times around a derelict farm he owned and he said it OK for us to have a look around.
No sooner had we pulled up in the farm when a Barn Owl left one of the old cowsheds. We started to look through the 2 rows of sheds that had the track in between and the first shed had much evidence of prolonged Barn Owl occupancy with many pellets and white-wash splashes under roof struts used by a roosting male. I’ve never seen Barn Owls nesting on the floor of a barn; they like to lay their eggs on a platform, shelf or box at a high level as protection from predators. High up the wall was a metal water tank; ideal for nesting owls and I put the ladder up to have a closer look. It would have been perfect but unfortunately it had a lid on it. The lid had a pigeons nest into which the owl had coughed up several pellet. I made a note to ask permission to remove the lid!
I moved to the cowshed across the road; again, many pellets and whitewash and another water tank. I put the ladder against the tank and a Barn Owl flew out. In the tank were 2 chicks which I ringed.
So a day when things had gone right with 2 new, unexpected broods; not like the other day when we turned up at a farm to find that the box where the Farmer had regularly seen Barn Owls and probably held chicks was surrounded by an impenetrable oil seed rape crop and it’s unlikely that the chicks will still be in the box when the crop is harvested. To make matters worse, the gear linkage on the old wagen came apart and I had to drive 7 miles home in 2nd gear!!