Hi and welcome to my Blog, my name is Paul Riddle and I live in south Leicestershire, UK. Back in August 2007 my quest began to locate as many local Little Owl territories as possible. The driving force was a reported decline in the uk numbers so I thought I would do my bit and conduct a study in my area. After 7 years and countless hours out in the field I have detected over 200 different sites. With a thirst for a greater understanding of the owls a more comprehensive monitoring and nest box programme then commenced. This also now includes monitoring the local and very sparse population of Barn Owls, please pop back occasionally and catch up with the life and times of my owls and any other wildlife that I come across. I hope you enjoy your visit!!!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Staying Put.....For Now!

When I had a some time off from work a couple of weeks ago I couldn't believe my bad luck, the weather was pitiful at best and it ruined all my birding plans. But now on reflection I consider myself to have been quite fortunate as I could have been off work this week. The conditions at present are  atrocious, with the high winds and persistent torrential rain getting out at the moment is an absolute no no!
So with any kind of birding abandoned for this weekend myself and four buddies decided that Saturday would best be spent making the relatively short journey up the M1 to watch the mighty Leicester City FC play the Owls? The Owls being the nickname of Sheffield Wednesday FC, it was a rather damp visit to the steel city but the 4,000 travelling away supporters were rewarded with a fine display and a 2-0 victory.
So that now brings me to today (Sunday), looking out of the window this morning the rain has ceased a little but the flooded fields means that yet another birding day  has to be abandoned. This got me wondering as to how the local owls will be coping in these adverse conditions? I don't think it will effect the Little Owls too much as the high water levels will offer them plenty of drowned worms to feed on but I fear the worse for the Barn Owls. They are very reluctant to hunt/feed in wet weather  tending instead to just sit it out in some sheltered barn or tree hollow getting hungrier by the day.
This got me thinking as to how the three juveniles at the "owl cam" site would be fairing? A quick look through yesterdays recordings and all three of them were found to be safe and sound roosting in the barn. They all looked to be in pretty good condition with no apparent weight loss, so for these guys the local hunting/prey doesn't seem to of been effected too badly.

As I flicked through more recordings to see what else had been happening they all disappeared!! Could they have gone out "day hunting" during a rest bite in the rain? No that wasn't the case, what they did was hop up on top of the nest box and spent the rest of the day roosting up in the eaves. In this screen shot (below) the most developed of the three youngsters prepares to go up, the other two followed suit shortly after.

So for now these owls are doing OK, I think that the layout of where they live helps because they can hunt/move into a complex of adjoining barns without having to venture outside, other local Barn Owls don't have that luxury and I fear the worst for them if this weather continues.
But in order to help these three youngsters and their four siblings that fledged from this same site earlier in the year I have saturated the local area with more nest boxes. They have all been erected in barns/old building (rather than on trees) and fingered crossed when they eventually be used once they are found. But it doesn't stop there, more boxes are needed in suitable sites a little further a field, so if you would like to assist me in getting more boxes up you can! Please do not forget that there are still some of my 2013 calendars available (see at the top of this blog for more info) all the proceeds will go towards more boxes.
Cheers Paul.
PS For those of you who have very kindly ordered one of my calendars (and the payment has arrived) they are being posted out to you tomorrow (Monday 26th)..........thank you!

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