I picked up Neil Pinder as my assistant today and he brought his Daughter Zoe with him, probably so that she could do the writing for me while he was off chasing butterflies.
Our first stop was a barn at Tollerton and we found two nice chicks in the box and one of the adults roosting in the roof beams. A good start to the day!
Next, my best producing box at Gamston that has given us over 30 chicks over the years despite changing females every other year. We added 2 females and a male to the box’s progeny and headed out to the new convent being built on Bunny Hill.
Here, we were met by Sister Mary Julian and another couple of Sisters who’d come along to see the owl chicks.
There were 4 beauties in the box, all females which were ringed and photographed before being returned to
So a good day with 9 Barn Owls added to our total.
We were on 497 chicks since 2000 and I had chicks in boxes waiting to be ringed so this bright Sunday
morning would be a good time to ring them.
Kate and I drove out to Gotham where we met friends Neil and Jackie Glenn who live in the village.
The first box had 2 chicks which put us on 499 so only one to go; the next would be our 500th chick.
Kim and Lindsay Simpson have a homestead on the edge of Gotham and have a large field with long grass and young trees; superb Barn Owl habitat which has rewarded them with nesting Barn Owls. I knew that these chicks would be well advanced as the chicks had already hatched when I looked in the box last May.
Sure enough, the 3 chicks in the box were well feathered with the oldest, a beautiful female which will have many spots and apricot blush collar.
Photos were taken, the other chicks ringed and we put them back into the box.
Elated, we carried on to the next box at Kingston where we came back to Earth when we found the female I’d caught in May still present but no sign of the eggs she’d had in May.
chicks in boxes here for the past 6 years. We met David Stock, the local man who keeps an eye on things
here and we ringed 2 chicks.
Back to Rempstone where we were disappointed to find that the owls we’d found in two boxes here had
both deserted which we can only put down to a lack of food.
When doing our box inspections in May, we’d found that two boxes had fallen from the trees and required rehanging.
Unfortunately, one was a breeding box and the birds had moved on.On the way, we stopped off to check a box that had 5 eggs last time we looked and we found 3 chickswhich I ringed there and then.
They were too small to tell what sex they were and I will have another look intwo weeks so I can sex them.On to the box repairs and we cleaned out the first box and rehung on the same tree with some strongerbrackets.The next box needed moving to another tree as it had been overgrown; we identified another tree withimproved access and put the box on that.
I went over to Gordon’s as we were going to do a round of his Broxtowe Barn Owl Project Boxes; hopefullyany chicks found would be big enough to ring.
The first box, at Bramcote had breeding owls last year but was found to be empty, however, we found thepair in another box nearby with 2 very small chicks and 3 eggs, one just hatching. So a good start.We’d been told by a local birder that he’d seen Kestrels around the next box, near Trowell.
Kestrels had bred in this box for the first 2 years but last year, we’d had breeding Barn Owls. I opened the box expectingKestrels and found Barn Owls, a male and female and 2 chicks which I ringed. The female here is all whiteand last year, she fooled me into thinking she was a male.
This time the male was in the box and she wasidentified as the female due to her greater weight. She had a new toy boy, I’d ringed the male as a chick lastyear in a box at Brinsley.In the afternoon, we’d arranged to meet local County Coucillor, Ken Rigby who’d made a donation to theproject out of his Division Fund.
The box chosen was one that had had breeding birds for the last couple ofyears and the Farmer had reported use again this year. When I looked in the box, I thought there was a pairof adults and a big chick but on looking further, realised that it was a 3 big chicks, about 6 weeks old and far
in advance of any brood found so far. I ringed all 3 chicks and Ken was delighted in seeing the birds at such close quarters. Photo were taken and the chicks put back in the box.
I met Clive, Chris and Gordon at the Rushcliffe CP to inspect the pole boxes there.
These boxes were the first erected by our project back in 1997. The park then was also very new and hundreds of trees wereplanted which have grown so fast that most of the boxes have now been engulfed by the trees. For the firsttime in many years, we found no Barn Owls on the Park.
The boxes are no longer ideal for Barn Owls andthe project will probably have to abandon them and erect some new boxes in the grassland that is left unmown to attract the small mammals on which the Barn Owls prey.After we’d finished at the park, Gordon and I carried on toinspect some boxes that I’d found Barn Owls but no eggs backin May to see if
they’d laid any eggs.
Two boxes were empty,the birds have moved on or nesting elsewhere but the 3rd boxhad two adults, one of which I’d ringed as a female in May ass he has some small spots under the wings. However, I sus
pectthat this is a spotted male as there was also a heavily spotteddefinite female in the box and the pair have probably got a broodnearby and are using this box as a roost.
A good day at Bingham Show with our Barn Owl Road Show.
Good weather, a big crowd and a pitch close to the main show ring ensured that we had a successful day. Pauline Hall and Mary Needham ran the sales stand while Clive and I gave out information and kept an eye on our Barn Owl, Misty, who had a constant stream of admirers and brought in a good number of donations to help our running costs.