On a horrible cold snowy day, a good day for updating my blog; so what do Owlists do in the Winter??
Well, there’s always something to do though nothing is that urgent and much depends on the weather. Some owls stay around their box area throughout the Winter though might prefer roosting in a barn while others disperse to where I know not, only to reappear in February and March. If both birds have survived, then they can pair off early but if one doesn’t return, then the other has to find a new mate which can involve a lot of flying and a lot of screeching!!
This Winter, we wanted to take down some of the boxes that had never had a Barn Owl inside and move them to hopefully better areas. However, we were thwarted at 3 boxes by finding Barn Owls roosting inside; hopefully, they’ll stick around but as they were all on farms that had a number of other boxes in regular use, we might be able to move these in the Summer if the owls choose to nest in one of the other boxes. We did move a couple of boxes though to cover the loss of some farm buildings that were being demolished and the owls will hopefully move into these.
Another thing we did this Winter was to replace our project vehicle. 10 years ago, when I took over as Field Work Manager, I was looking for a cheap 4×4 vehicle and was fortunate to buy a 1984 Mercedes G Wagen, a real iconic vehicle which became quite well known around the Rushcliffe area. This was a superb vehicle, built like a tank and renowned as the finest off-road vehicle ever made. In all our time out in the fields and through some of the wettest Summers on record, it ploughed through everything and never got stuck. When there was snow, we went out and had a great time pulling cars up the steep hill where we live; remarkably, it got a grip on sheet ice and never failed to tow them out. Unfortunately, the engine began to wear and it was feared that it would fail the next emission test on the MOT and be very expensive to repair. With great reluctance, I passed it on to a G Wagen enthusiast, getting back the same price as I’d paid for it; he rebuilt the engine, fitted an automatic gear box and he’s now using it as a runaround in the USA! So der Eulenwagen has gone to a good home and is still going strong!!
So we were looking for a new vehicle; over the years the group had done quite a lot of fund raising and thanks to attending shows with sales goods and donations from Parish Councils and County Councillors, we had enough cash in the bank to get a new vehicle; I added a bit myself and we purchased a nice Ford Ranger 4×4 pick-up. I bought a cab top off ebay and it’s made an ideal vehicle for our purpose with enough room in the back for 3 owl boxes.
Come some better weather and we’ll be out there again, exploring new sites and putting up some new boxes in good habitat. Mid May and we’ll be back into the breeding season which is always an exciting time for us, never knowing what we’re going to find and whether the vole population will enable us to have another fantastic year!!