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!!!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Barn Owl Ringing 2015 - Round One.....

As the title suggests we have now done our first round of ringing for the 2015 breeding season, as is now the norm I was joined by my owl box sidekick Col Green and our ringer Mike Townsend.

Due to the commitment that is required not all our boxes have been checked so far this year, a combination of bad weather, Landrover off the road, too busy with work or just too many boxes! However, of the one that have been checked so far we have breeding activity with Barn Owls at 8 separate sites. Not huge numbers I know but much better than just the single site we had six years ago, so we must be doing something right as things are definitely going in the right direction.

The first site was a bitter sweet result, this is the site where the male owl was shot and killed sometime over the xmas period of 2014, what made it even worse was this site hadn't had resident Barn Owls for at least thirty years! As you can imagine we were devastated at the time but as they say every cloud has a silver lining and nature has a way of bouncing back, and that was in the form of a new male bird moving in earlier this year. We have erected two separate boxes on trees at this site which are about 100 yards apart (boxes No 1 & 2). Last year the owls bred in box 1, on May 9th both boxes were checked and to our surprise the birds had relocated to box No 2 and had a clutch of 4 eggs!

That now brings us to this visit and sadly only one chick was in the box, I don't suspect foul play but just a sign that times are harder this year with the availability of prey. 

Box No 2 - 1 chick
What a fiery little character this chick turned out to be, easily the most active one I have come across, very vocal and snappy, plenty of attitude!!



He or she was soon ringed and returned to the box, that was around 3 weeks ago so I would now assume that it will be just about ready to be vacating the box?

At the second site our box No 67 is mounted in a Barn, here three very healthy but dozy chicks were ringed. A great result this as this was the first time Barn Owls had used this box since it was erected in March 2011, only a four year wait!

Col at Box No 67 - 3 chicks.
The adult owls must have been using this box for a while now as when Col removed the inspection hatch we couldn't see inside as it was full with discarded pellets, there were so many there was no way we could get the chicks out, so the whole front of the box had to be removed so as to get access.

One of the chicks from Box 67
The third site we visited was Box No 76, we had the same problem as before with gaining access so the whole box front had to be removed again, much to the dismay of Col!! Last year this box had breeding Tawny Owls in it so we were very pleased to have had Barn Owls in residence for the first time. 

Site 76 - 3 chicks
This box contained three chicks which were all soon rung and returned, here is yours truly doing my bit of ringing, yes unfortunately reading glasses are now par for the course!

The Riddler ringing!
And here is a mugshot of my two partners in crime with the whole brood from site/box 76 just before being returned.

The dudes - Site No 76.
Although we did plan to ring more birds at other sites on this particular evening that wasn't possible because the other chicks were either too small, the hen was still incubating her eggs or egg laying hadn't even commenced yet!

From all accounts information has been filtering through from other nest recorders/ringers in the UK that Barn Owl breeding numbers and clutch sizes are down compared to the bumper year of 2014, not good news that but if our other predicted sites produce the expected breeding results we could actually have a better returns than last year. 

Thanks for stopping by, Little Owls next!

Catch up again soon......... 

13 comments:

  1. I'm hoping the Little Owl's faired better then the Barn Owl's it's weird as I hadn't thought the weather was that bad. Great work by all.

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  2. Don't get your hopes up Doug, a very poor year with the Little Owls, thanks for your encouragement buddy.

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  3. Great images Paul, well done for your efforts,our Barn Owls are again doing nothing, just hope for a late breeding, has happened before. By the way have erected the barn owl box where you saw the pellets, its up to them to use it.

    John

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    1. Thanks for your comments John, plenty of Barn Owls this year in the UK not breeding so far, so your not on your own there. Just keeping my fingers crossed that you have occupancy in your box soon...........

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  4. I'm sure we will be ringing a few more before the end of the breeding season buddy fingers crossed!!!

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    1. That's what I like to see, a confident man!

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  5. Did not realise that Masai Mick was a pal of yours, he has ringed our barn owls several times with John Cranfield

    John

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    1. Hi John, yes mick lives just up the road from me and has been ringing my owls for a few years now, a top bloke!

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