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, 31 March 2013

Jo's Owls.

In my previous but one post I mentioned that I'd located my Little Owl site No 229, this finding came on the same day and only an hour or so after finding my site No 228.

I was checking out a new area for me when I chanced upon an isolated barn down a very narrow back lane. It looked very owly indeed so without further ado I pulled up adjacent to it and got the camo scrim up at the window. I was totally engrossed with checking it out when I almost jumped out of my skin after a tap at the window. It was the owner of the barn, Jo and she was investigating what this strange bloke (me!) in a strange car was doing? Once I'd explained she was totally OK with it, in fact she endorse it. We chatted for a few minutes and it turned out that there were Little Owls in residence, and a pair too! They had bred last year and raise the one juvenile, with that positive tit bit of info she left me to it.

The building was of brick construction on three sides with an open fronted aspect, it was facing the open frontage that I re-positioned the car and the wait started. It took a while for the first owl to show, I can only assume that it had dropped down from within the building eves, it landed on to a wooden pallet that was propped up at the barn opening. I wasn't expecting it to show where it did and a quick alteration of my camera settings allowed me my first image. The dark interior of the barn offered a nice black backdrop to the image.

Click images for larger view.

My first sighting and image from my new site 229.

Then a second bird flashed before me, it flew out of the barn and landed on a pile of rubble that was piled up next to the building. This bird was back lit from the sun which meant another quick change of the camera settings, but it stayed there long enough for me to capture this image below.

The second owl, site No 229.

My attention was then drawn back to the first owl, it had flew out of the barn and up onto the roof.

I was struggling with the direction of the light so I chanced spooking them and moved the car. This wasn't detrimental for too long as the first bird soon re-appeared on the pile of rubble. 

This site is located a bit further a field than my normal monitoring area, therefore it won't be visited as often as I'd like, but come the breeding season it should be brilliant site when the juveniles are out.
Many thanks must go to Jo who allowed me access, I'll see you again soon!

Friday, 29 March 2013

What a "good friday".

Absolutely glorious............. I can't think of a better words to describe what it was like being out in the heart of the countryside at 5.30am this morning. To watch the dawn of a new day and the world slowly coming to life as the sun rose above the horizon was brilliant. It was so tranquil and so eerily still, gone were the horrid high winds that have been bothering us of late. There was not another sole about and the only sound was that of the dawn chorus, and I managed to soak in the atmosphere and really appreciate it all with a hangover!!! I know the bank holiday weekend is all about taking it easy and chilling out away from the pressures of life/work, but give an early start a go, you won't regret it................I can't recommended it highly enough!!
Anyway, my early objective was to go and find some hunting Barn Owls. I was hoping that a few of the leads I have during the week would throw up some new sites? Sadly that wasn't the case with only one very brief sighting being made and that was at an existing site. But it didn't matter, just being out was reward enough on its own.
This is the Barn Owl sighting I made, below. Not the best of images as it was still pretty dark and taken though the side window of the car. I can only assume that is was sitting in this crevice taking a breather before it flew off into the distance, no doubt it was off to retire to its bed?
Barn Owl - Undisclosed site.
For the rest of the morning I flittered about between potential Barn Owl sites, along the way a few Little Owls and a solitary Buzzard were encountered.  I spotted the Buzzard sitting on top of a hedgerow up in front of me. I got the camera ready and drove deathly slow, I'd remembered to open the passenger window this time (unlike when I encountered the earlier Barn Owl!). And just as I predicted, I got level with it and off it flew!! How many times has that happened to me??
The next bird I encountered, a Little Owl at my site No 107 also flew off just before I could "lock" onto it, slightly blurred again!!!
Little Owl - Site No 107.
At my Little Owl site No 62 a single owl was located, thankfully this bird didn't fly off as soon as I pulled up. In fact I sat with it for at least half an hour, it didn't budge from it's original position all the time I was there.
Little Owl - Site No 62.
The final site of the day was at my Little Owl site No 4. The male owl was out on my arrival, he gave some great views as he hopped around on top of the green fence posts.
Little Owl (male) - Site No 4.
This bird didn't do too much and all the images were pretty similar really, a green post with an owl on the top! Then I heard the call of another owl, it must have been the hen bird? I had to reverse the car a few yards as it was awkward viewing but I eventually located her, she was sat at what I can only assume is the nest entrance? She posed nicely for about one second before she disappeared into the hole. I have been to this site dozens of times before and I'd always wondered where the nest was? And all this time it was virtually right under my nose, what a wally! 
Little Owl (hen) - Site No 4.
So all in all as the title of this post suggests, it WAS a good Friday. I wonder what tomorrow will bring as I am planning yet another very early start, Superb Saturday maybe??

Thursday, 28 March 2013

New Little Owl site No 228....

Oh the past few days has just been unbelievable when it comes to Barn Owl sightings, I have been out every evening this past week and without exception there is a story to be told from every excursion? Adding to this the jungle drums have been beating very loudly, I have had no fewer than 9 emails, text messages and phone calls regarding local barn Owl sightings. And all but one could be a potential new site? Tomorrow (Friday) I will be making the most of the day off work and will be out investigating them all.
In the meantime I need to tell you about two new Little Owl sites that I have located this week, sites No 228 and 229.
Site No 228 was a real opportunist find, driving past an old barn and an adjacent pile of hay bales it looked really owly, my initial instinct paid dividends when a pair were located that showed really well. I had to sit in the car for an age before they came close enough for an image, but I was rewarded with some fine views and some very saucy activities!
The light was in totally the wrong direction for good photography, but I had to make do with what I was presented with and made the most of it. 

Little Owls mating, a very rare encounter indeed!
Finding site No 228 was very pleasing indeed, but within half an hour another new site was located, No 229.  I will do another post and publish some images from this latest location very shortly................

Monday, 25 March 2013

Micro Climate

Oh look what I chanced upon this evening, it was hunting along the grassy verge of a quiet lane that is boarded with unusually high hedgerows. These birds aren't daft, the high hedge had kept the verges relatively free of snow whilst also offering a bit of relief from the harsh cutting wind.
I am not sure whether this is a new bird or not?  It was located midway between two other known Barn Owl sites, both about a mile away in opposite directions. I quickly pulled up and my luck was in as it continued to fly towards me, as it came along side it dived head first into the snow. I inched the car forward so as to see it over the verge and grabbed a couple of shots.  The conditions were terrible, taken at 6.29pm and very dark, I had to use a high ISO to get any acceptable shutter speed, hence the grainy effect!
Barn Owl - New or Old???

If I get the chance tomorrow evening I will visit this little "micro climate" again, that is if the snow is still about and the wind is still blowing, blimey never thought I'd hear myself wish for such atrocious conditions to continue!!!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

An hour in the snow.

I didn't get out of the house until very late today, I kept getting the urge but every time I looked out of the window I thought what the hell I'm staying in the warmth! I don't normally bother about the cold but my tip out with Col yesterday was still fresh in my mind, I still don't think that I'm fully thawed out even now!
I'd been thinking all day about the trophy cam that I set up yesterday at a local Barn Owl site. It was the first time that I'd used it and I was dying to see if it had captured the Barn Owl going in and out of the box. So late afternoon I found myself looking out of the window yet again, it was 3.30pm and the sun had just broken from behind the horrid grey clouds.  It was more of a draw than I could resist, I decided a quick trip out to collect the cam would do no harm.
I drove up the private road towards the barn and as I pulled up I accidentally flushed out a Little Owl from within a pen holding some new born lambs. I think it must have been appreciating the relative shelter that the corrugated walls offered. It flew up and landed on top of one of the farmers tractors, it was being blown all over the place and fought constantly to keep its balance in the howling wind. But I was prepared as my camera was already set up next to me on the passenger seat.
My encounter with the owl at my site No 10 lasted all of 2 minutes, but it was time enough for me to grab a few shots as it sought some shelter.     

He then flew up and landed on the side of the barn roof that offered quite an unusual shot.

I anticipated he was about to fly, I quickly pre-focused on the roof about 2 foot in front of him and managed to capture this shot below. 

All too quickly he disappeared out of sight, I wasn't going to hang around and wait for its return as it was bloody freezing with the car window wound down! So I carried on to the barn to collect the trophy cam. On the return journey I slowed right down to see if the owl was showing again, and he was and his mate was with him! They were both on the roof of one of the barns sheltering out of the wind, they were distant and the image below is a massive crop, but nice to capture them amongst the snow.
Once I got back I checked out the trophy cam, sadly nothing was captured of the Barn Owl, but that's not to say its not using the nest box, more like I didn't set it up properly!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Come rain or shine!

Earlier today Col and I were out again putting up yet more owl boxes. Now when the weather is as bad as it was this morning the best option surely is to stay at home? But oh no not us, we'd agreed earlier in the week that no matter how bad the conditions we were going to brave them. And as we thought the weather did turn out to be flipping awful, bitterly cold and sideways snow but we stuck to our guns and committed ourselves to the cause.........I think now somebody needs to seriously question our sanity!
Anyhow, after a bit of networking and meeting more very amenable local landowners permission was granted for the erection of the first box in a private barn (or hovel as it is locally known). If the conditions weren't enough for us to battle against we came upon another challenge almost immediately. Inside the barn it was flooded, eight inches of dirty sleety water mixed in with algae and cow poo! Neither of us fancied wading through that lot, especially as we both had the most inadequate of footwear on! As we pondered what to do it looked like a quick game of paper, scissors and stones was going to decide who the unfortunate one was going to be to risk the quagmire. But then I had a very rare moment if inspiration! I could reverse the Landrover into the barn and we could climb up onto the bonnet and then the roof, this would then put us at just the right level to secure the box. So that is what we did!!!
Landie in the barn.
We didn't have a lot of room to manoeuvre and the landie roof was very slippy but we got the job done.
Col with the new box in position.
We have high expectations for this box as a Barn Owl has been seen recently in the vicinity. I just hope all this effort will be worth it in the long run?
Box to let, come on owls!
The second box we put up was for Little Owls, this design is a relatively new one for us and only the second of this type we've put up. We will just have to wait and see if it is to the owls liking?
The new box and Col sporting his spiderman gloves!
We had done well for time with the box erecting, yes our hands were numb and noses glowing bright red but hey we didn't care! We then moved on to check out three Barn Owl boxes that were erected in barns near to where we were back in 2011, and did we get some great results!!
At the first box we chanced upon a roosting Bird in the barn, yeeeeees get in there site No 16!!! At the second site we again located another Barnie sheltering out of the blizzard, this was not a new site though as I'd saw a bird here back in January although it was good to see it was still about and using the box. And the third and final box we checked out another Barnie was located roosting in the rafters, and that was another yeeeeeeeeees at it too was another new site, get in there site No 17! 
The final task of the day before we could get back and have a very welcome cup of tea was to set up the "Bushnell Trophy Cam". This is a brilliant bit of kit that my mate Adie has very generously lent me. It is a movement sensing camera/video recorder, and as can be seen in the image below I positioned it up high in the rafters of a barn facing one of our boxes. I have seen a Barn Owl in this building before but I am not sure whether or not it is using the box?
Rid - positioning the camera.
Weather and time allowing I will return to collect the Trophy Cam tomorrow and fingers crossed I will have captured some footage of the owl, and maybe confirmation that it is using the box.......................more of that later folks!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Did you know??????

Sorry folks but nothing to report or images to display from the last week or so, work and bad weather has put paid to that! But what I have been doing is renewing my licenses that will enable me to carry on doing my survey/monitoring work with the owls. No license or legal obligation is required for surveying the Little owls, just common sense really, but when it comes to monitoring Barn Owls now that is quite a different matter! Because they are on the "Amber List" (a species with unfavourable conservation status in the UK) a license is required. 
For the first time I actually applied for the required licence (Schedule 1 disturbance permit) in my own name, previously I'd been named as an agent on somebody elses license. My application has now been approved by the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) and it came through today, hooray!!
 I also had another confirmation today, my very own ringer trainer! Mmmmm well what does that mean?? Well it means that I am going to be going out in the field accompanied by a "trained ringer" from the BTO, and in time if I prove myself to be competent enough I'll be able to ring the owls all on my very own, hooray!!
After all this excitement I went onto the BTO website to do a bit of reading and self education about ringing and what a mass of information there is. Whilst doing this wee bit of research I started to read all about ringing and how it helps us understand bird ages, movements, dispersal etc, and some fascinating owl facts and figures there are too.
Did you know.................
The longest lived UK "wild Barn Owl was an incredible 15 years and 26 days old (at least) , not that old in human terms but when you consider the average life span for a Barn Owl in the wild is only 4 years this owl from Essex did pretty well!
A Barn Owl that was rung at the nest in July 2007 in Glenurguhart, Highlands, Scotland was recovered alive after being hit by a car in November 2007 in St Ishmaels, Dyfed, South Wales? It had travelled an incredible 624km in just 5 months!!! This was the longest recorded movement of a Barn Owl within the confines of mainland UK, a miraculous journey for sure, just where was it going?
Now the above journey can be beaten by a Barn Owl that had visited the UK on holiday back in 1991. This particular bird was found injured in Penzance, Cornwall. It had been rung 6 months previous as a nestling in Wietzen, Germany!!! An even more incredible journey totalling 1,054km.
Now I was pretty impressed with the information that can be gathered through ringing recoveries but this last fact just blew me away!
A Barn Owl that was rung at the nest in Weddlesbury, Oxfordshire in June 2005 was found dead 9 months later in Afghanistan after travelling a whopping 5,383km!!!
Hope you liked these Barn Owl ringing facts and figures, hopefully one day one of the owls that I'm going to ring in the future will appear on this list, we'll just have to wait and see?    

Saturday, 16 March 2013

3 more!

Following the title of my last post "2 More" which was about another two new Little Owl sites that I'd recently located one would think that this posts would suggest I'd found some more sites, but that is not the case.
The "3 more" I refer to in this title refers to another 3 more owl boxes that were erected this morning. My initial plan was to follow up two recent leads of Barn Owl sightings but when I saw how bad the weather was those plans were ditched. Instead I loaded up the Landrover with the boxes that Col and I had made/repaired recently and off I went.
At the first location a Little Owl box was erected at the edge of an orchard. There are already owls in residence here but the natural cavity they use makes it almost impossible to ring the juveniles. So I am hoping they find the box a more attractive proposition and relocate to it. This is the first Little Owl box that has a felt roof, the reason being that any box made of plywood has a weakness in the roof and after a couple of years they start to peel back and rot. We'll see in time if this amendment makes any difference.
At the second location I erected a Barn Owl box, this too has had a felt roof. I have recently discovered that this old Pollard Willow Tree has been used by a Barn Owl for roosting purposes. On two occasions I have found it fast asleep deep down inside the main trunk, so deep in fact it was almost on the floor! That obviously wasn't the ideal situation for the owl so a bespoke box was made. I have strategically positioned the box into the cavity where it will be well protected by the elements but the owl can still gain entry into the main trunk of the tree if it so wishes.
The final box of the day was another Barn Owl box. This is not far from the Barn Owl location that I mentioned in a post a couple of week ago. You may well recall me explaining that I'd located the owl roosting in an old derelict building that was due to be renovated. Well after a bit of networking I discovered another nearby building that looked just right for a box and the landowner was only too pleased to let me put one up.  
I obviously need to keep the location of this Barn under wraps to protect the privacy of the landowner and especially as it now has a box in it, and soon a Barn Owl! But this is the view from the outside.
After today's work my box tally has now moved on to 106 in total, 51 Little Owl & 55 Barn Owl. I still have a couple more made that have yet to be erected, once they are all up the timing will be just about right to start the marathon job of checking all 106 of them to see if any are being used as breeding sites., surely there will be a few?

Friday, 15 March 2013

Two more!

It has been a very busy week work wise, consequently I have fallen behind a bit with keeping my blog up to date. Anyway, I have now had a chance to get back in front of my PC and go through the images from my most recent venture out.  I was at my site No 160, and I just adore this location because it offers something different that none of my other sites do, dry stone walls. I don't know why but the combo of owls and walls.......I just love em!!!  Anyway that is enough about my unusual fetish, lets get back on track.
I was at this site late in the day and it was bitterly cold, although the light was OK on arrival it soon changed to grey cloud and either, rain, hail or snow!!!  And to make matters worse the position I have to park the car in meant that the cutting wind was blowing straight into the open window, it was bloody freezing! Luckily upon arrival a single owl was already showing, it was bobbing about on posts and walls (oooh yeees). I knew I wasn't going to be staying for long (because of the conditions) so I made the most of the time there and grabbed some distant "environment" shots (see new header). 
Little Owl - Site No 160
 It only came reasonably close just the once (image above) this was just before the wind picked up and the heavens opened. It too was obviously suffering from the conditions as it soon dropped down behind a sheltering wall not to be seen again!
On my way back I stopped off at a derelict barn by the roadside, I'd previously pulled up here before because it just looked so owly, but nothing had ever been seen. My luck was in this time though, I couldn't believe it as half way up the wall perched up on a stone plinth were a pair of Little Owls.........GET IN THERE SITE No 226!!!  

Little Owls - New site No 226.
The heavily cropped image above was the best of a bad bunch, low light and shaking camera didn't help, but I will be back when the weather improves.
I continued home along the same country lane and I'd only travelled a mile or show when another new site was located!!! The light had all but gone but I was still able to spot a Little Owl perched on top of a telegraph pole, oh yes get in there site No 227. So as not to spook it I didn't stop, instead I drove past and pulled up at the earliest convenient spot. The camera was soon out of the bag again and the flash unit activated. I knew that it was far too dark for the auto focus to work so I had to switch over to manual mode, I then reversed very very slowly..........
I pulled up right next to the post and switched off the car engine, because of the angle I couldn't see if the owl was still there? I waited a few seconds and then pointed the camera at the base of the post. I then slowly followed the post upwards, once at the top I was in for a surprise as there was now two of them!! I manually tweaked the focus and took the shot.
Little Owls- site No 227.
Not the best of evenings for photography, but definitely good for new owl sites and memories.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


During the last few weeks whilst doing my checking of the local derelict buildings and barns I have found evidence that 3 of them are now being used/visited by Barn Owls. Currently they are all just roosting sites as there is just nowhere for them to nest. So in an attempt to stop the birds (presumably last years juveniles?) dispersing any further a field I took upon myself to get some boxes up as soon as I could. But that is where the problem started, I didn't have any boxes that were ready to be erected, but what I did have was some old wooden pallets that I blagged of a local farmer.
They were a bit rough, full of knots and nails but surely they could be transformed? And if so then I knew just the man to help me do it!
Old pallets
An SOS went out to Col Green as he was the man I turned to during this time of need, and through gritted teeth he said he was only too pleased to lend a hand.......what a good bloke!  

We met up in the evening at Carl's workshop and to begin with there was no real plan, but once I'd shown Col the pile of timber that we had to work with (he wasn't impressed!) and then explained what the box needed to look like when finished we set about the task in hand. This challenge was really going test Col's carpentry skills to the full, but I know he doesn't like things to be too easy!!
Col, not a happy chappy!
At times we even had a reversal in our roles, on a couple of occasions I had to stop Col to show him where he was going wrong (can't believe I said that!) whilst he picked up the camera and took a few snaps of "the master" at work!
It wasn't long before we had the prototype finished, yes I know a bit rough around the edges and very wonky looking but Col did his best!  

The prototype
During the next couple of hours we both worked like Trojans and in the end we had three identical(ish) boxes made.............we were both happy.

Not a bad transformation I would say, 3 pallets to 3 boxes in just a few hours. They just need a coat of paint now and then they will be ready for erection, fingers crossed the owls will like them? 
And finally, just to prove to all those doubting Thomas' out there who say that Col doesn't actually know how to smile..............well just look at this image, as they say the camera doesn't lie!
Col - can be a miserable old bugger at times but never the less a TOP BLOKE!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Too cold today!

The weather here in Leicestershire has been abysmal during the last couple of days, consequently I haven't bothered to venture out. Instead I have been doing some long overdue tidying up of my photo archives, whilst doing this I came across loads of images that for what ever reason I didn't get around to processing or posting.
Amongst all of those unprocessed images were a couple of images that I'd like to share, below. There is just something about Little Owls and dry stone walls that I particularly like, they just seem to complement each other so well.

I also found a group of flight shots of the owl as it moved along the wall. With the use of my photoshop editing soft wear I have merged them altogether to create this sequence.
Click on the image for larger view. 

I have every intention to get out later today, that is if the weather warms up and I can be bothered!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Owl box.......occupied at last!

At this time of year I make an attempt to visit as many of my owl boxes as possible, not to look inside them but just to survey the general area to see if there is any evidence of them being used prior to the breeding season commencing. If Little Owls have been using a particular box there are usually tell tail scratches on the face just below the hole caused by the owls claws. If Barn Owls have been using a box or visiting a building that contains one then the signs I look out for are big black pellets and poo on the floor! 
Occasionally it isn't necessary to look for these clues because I actually see the birds themselves, what better evidence could be wanted than that? Well I was recently checking out a Little Owl box in the south of the county. This box was erected in 2010 and since then it has been checked on at least an annual basis, and so far nothing! In this instance I was giving the box the once over through my binoculars and noticed some light scratch marks below the hole, mmmmmm looks promising. I wasn't getting too excited at this stage because the same kind of scratch marks can be made by other birds (Great Tits) or Squirrels, the usual culprits.
I moved in for a closer look and yes the marks on the box did look like they could have been made by a Little Owl. When Squirrels use a box the scratched are usually all around the hole and often there are gnaw marks too. I didn't suspect Great Tit because the pitch (distance between the scratches) was too wide, however they were very light so whatever had caused them hadn't been doing so for too long.
I positioned up and waited.....................

Eventually I was rewarded for my patience and got to see what I'd been waiting for, a Little Owl appeared at the entrance hole!!!

After a while the first bird popped out of the box and landed on the adjacent perch, then a second owl appeared at the hole entrance, yeeeeeeees a pair!

The owls seemed relaxed and were comfortable in the presence of my parked up Landrover, obviously they couldn't see me as I was hidden behind my camo scrim. Occasionally they would glance in my direction when I think they heard the camera shutter clicking.

I am not sure where these owls have come from? They are either a relocated pair from a nearby site or maybe and most likely they are both juveniles from last year that have recently bonded and set up home in my box, I guess we'll never know but I am sure pleased they are here!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The owling hour.....

I have been asked the same question on more occasions than I care to recall, just how on earth have I manage to locate so many owl sites? Well the simple answer is to be put yourself in the right place at the right time! OK it is a little more complex than that but that is certainly a good way to start. At this time of year it really pays to get out at dusk, "the owling hour". The owls are waking up and coming out to play, and that is the best time to look for any suspicious looking silhouette perched up in a leafless tree, just like the image below. 

Whilst I was trying to perfect the "silhouette" owl image I noticed that there was a rather attractive looking setting sun on the other side of the tree. So I took the opportunity to get a bit "arty"and capture a shot of that too, image below.

Nothing too special about the individual images when they are apart but then I got thinking. I zoomed out to 120mm and managed to capture the whole scene together in one shot. I under exposed the shot so as to emphasise the shadows and also not to blow the lighter areas, and I am really pleased with the final results.
In fact I like it so much that I cropped the final image and now as you can see it is gracing my blog header, I feel there is a real atmospheric sense about it, hope you think the same?

Monday, 4 March 2013

Sleepy Beauty

An early morning barn checking session on Sunday came up trumps when I located my 15th different local Barn Owl so far this year. This hen owl (you can tell its a "she" by the heavily speckled breast) was found fast asleep up in the rafters of an old derelict building.
I was very "mouse like" and did my up most not to make a noise and consequently wake her up, a couple of quick images were taken and then I made a hasty retreat leaving her to snooze the day away.

After leaving the owl to sleep I went and checked another nearby building where I erected a box a couple of years ago. There were plenty of owl pellets and poo on the ground so obviously the owl(s) have found it and have been visiting, but my heart sank when a pair of Stock Doves flew from the box..............................enough said about them!!!! 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Barn Owls are back!

Some of you out there may recall last year (2012) we had an enormous amount of success at one particular Barn Owl site, mainly down to the dedication of Glyn, "the guardian of the owls!" Prior to the breeding season we (Glyn, Daz & I) took a gamble and mounted a couple of cameras in the barn & nest box,  and lucky for us the birds opted to use the box. We were then able to monitor them quite closely via the cameras, the Internet and from the luxury of our homes. The breeding owls had two separate broods and in total successfully raised 7 juveniles. I now suspect that a lot of the local sighting of Barn Owls that I have made so far this year are quite probably the youngsters from this site?
So that now brings us to this year,  had both of the owls survived the harsh winter and if so would they use the box again? Well after monitoring the cameras over the last few days things look very promising indeed. On Feb 28th a single owl was recorded in the barn, which is good news in itself but even better than that it was having a good look around inside the box!

Bird in the box!

We can see you!

Then on Friday night another look via the motion detection recordings and whoopee, a pair!

Finally a pair.
I know that another local farmer has recently erected a nesting box in one of his out-buildings, which is obviously good news. But, I do hope that they just use that as a roosting site and choose our box to breed in again. I know they will be making up their minds very soon as last year their first egg was laid on March 21st!