Last year, I had a call from one of my farmers, Jo,  a lady at Skinner’s Lock Farm at Cotgrave. She told me that she’d found a dead Barn Owl chick in her pig barn but could find no trace of a nest. Intrigued, I went over and was shown the dead chick, about 3 weeks old, lying in one of the pig stalls. I had a good look round the barn, finding many signs of Barn Owl presence but no sign of a nest. Barn Owls like an enclosed box, shelf or loft to nest in, somewhere well out of the way of predators!

In the end, I gave up and came to the conclusion that the owl chick had been taken into the pig barn by a cat!

Luckily, the chick didn't fall amongst the pigs!!

The entrance to the tunnel beneath the roof apex!!

This morning, Jo rang me again; “I’ve found another chick in the pig barn, this time, a live one”. I went over with Clive and met Jo in the yard. “It’s gone” she said. I looked at the stall and noticed a slurry chute into the back yard. I went to have a look and found the chick on top of the slurry which I found to be quite deep when I went over the fence to retrieve the chick. It was quite lively and I took it back inside the barn where Clive and I did a thorough search of the premises. High in the apex of the roof where two roof beams and nailed to these were long strips of polystyrene. Part of this was broken and there was a hole in the end making an entrance into a long tunnel below the ridge of the roof. I put the ladder up and shone my torch along the length of the tunnel and there they were, 2 or 3 Barn owl chicks huddled together at the far end.

The chicks in the tunnel!

Mystery solved then; the tunnel would have been snug and safe but there was nothing to stop an excited chick from falling out of the end. I stuck a couple of house bricks in the tunnel entrance to create a barrier that could be easily cleared by the adults as they entered the hole.

I put a ring on the chick’s leg and popped it back in the nest to rejoin its siblings.

The mystery of Skinners Lock Farm has been solved!!


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