As an addition to yesterdays blog on second broods; today wasn’t so good!! First the morning rain wasn’t expected, the so-called weather forecasters cocked up yet again and after yesterday’s promise of a dry day, the early morning drizzle came as a surprise but I suppose we should expect this by now. By 11:00, the rain had stopped and I picked up Neil and headed for Kinoulton to check some boxes that had been inaccessible due to the crops in the field! The best thing about going out at this time of the year is that all the fields have been harvested and it’s easy to drive around on the stubble. By the time we hit the fields, it was raining again and I got quite wet looking into the empty boxes!! Nothing there and a mental note made to relocate both boxes to easier access areas!!

Finally the rain stopped and we headed for a box where the female had been on a late clutch of eggs 6 weeks ago and any chicks should be ready for ringing by now. However, things looked bad when I found an almost fledged chick dead in the grass close to the box. There was a chance that this bird had fallen out and that there was still live chicks in the box but nothing doing,  there were three more dead chicks inside!!

Next, it was on to a barn where we’d ringed 2 chicks back in June; the chicks had fledged and the box empty but there were 2 more boxes in the area that had been used by this pair before. The first had become detached from the tree and was removed for repair. The second was emerged in a high crop of sweetcorn and took some finding and it was sad to find another dead brood of 3 small chicks!!

The next boxes we looked at at Langar were empty and we drove over to see our helper and No.1 fan Jo at her house at Sutton where the tea and coffee was most welcome!!

With Jo along for the ride, we headed over to the nearby Elton Park to check the box where we’d ringed 2 chicks in June; a pair of Barn Owls left the box and there were 4 cold eggs inside so she’d laid eggs then decided not to sit on them!!

H Owling!!

While here, Jo and I indulged in Owling, a new craze that involves having your photo taken whilst squatting on a perch; I was up the tree but Jo doesn’t like heights so squatted on a low stump!! Google ‘Owling’ to see what it’s all about. A bit daft, I know but good for cheering us up on a bad day!!

Jo Owling!!

To make matters worse, I returned home to find an email from Mary Julian at the Holy Cross Convent to say that a local farmer had given her a freshly dead Barn Owl he’d found in his barn, it had a ring and was ringed by me as a chick  close by earlier this year.

So with 2 broods of dead chicks, another with abandoned eggs and a newly fledged chick probably starved, I have fears that this could be the fate of many of our second brooding chicks; only time will tell but I think they’re in for a hard time as winter approaches!!

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