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!!!

Friday, 4 September 2015

Mercy Mission?

Hi all, one of my farmer friends called me very early this morning, he'd discovered a Barn Owl lying face down in a ditch and didn't know what to do with it? He said it appeared to be injured but it was still alive as it turned its head when he got close. We talked through the possibilities of what we could do and what may have happened? Maybe it had been hit by a car, or could it have been attacked by another animal or bird, or even worse still had it been shot like the Barn Owl last Christmas? 

Because it was still alive and very close to a barn where I have a box I made a mad dash over to meet the farmer, with me I'd got a plastic box that could be used if necessary to transport it to the vets or local animal sanctuary.

The Barn  (a secret location).
Upon my arrival the farmer (Steve) pointed out the bird in the ditch, I gingerly moved nearer and upon closer inspection I realised it wasn't injured at all, it was a fledged juvenile!!! Now this was very interesting indeed, just where had this bird come from? Judging by its downy appearance pretty close by was my guess, there was no way it could have travelled any distance. There was really only one explanation, it must have come from the box within the nearby barn. The young bird was collected up and placed safely inside the plastic box that I'd brought with me, then Steve called me over to where he was standing, he'd discovered another young owl that was lying on the ground just inside the barn, that too was quickly placed with its sibling inside the plastic box. 

A quick call was then made to Mike our local ringer, my apologies were made for calling him so early, I explained the situation and he said he'd be with us in 30 minutes. Whilst we waited for Mike to arrive Steve and I had a good look around to make sure there were no other young birds that we'd missed, there wasn't. I then checked inside the nest box, it was then that full confirmation was attained as inside was yet another young bird!

The nest box (No 41).
All three owls were now safely placed inside the plastic box, here they seemed content whilst we prepared for the ringing of them. I did managed to record the events on my I-phone, not great images but good enough for me to share in this post.


Mike was soon with us and in no time at all he was ringing the first bird, this one seemed to be the eldest as it was less downy than the other two.

Juvenile No 1

Juvenile No 1

Juvenile No 1

Owl number 2 was soon processed too.

Juvenile No 2

Juvenile No 2

And then finally owl number 3.

Juvenile No 3

Juvenile No 3

The whole brood.
So what initially appeared to be a phone call full of dread and a potential mercy mission actually turned out to be a welcome bonus and a new Barn Owl family that I didn't even know were there! That is now 10 confirmed breeding sites within my survey area in 2015,  we are now well on our way to our target of 30 breeding sites, if things keep going like this then the magical number could well be achievable in a few years?

Many thanks to Steve and Mike, top blokes!!

I'll be back again soon folks!

13 comments:

  1. Hi Paul, it's heartening to go from fearing the worst to discovering the very best. What a great story and the photos of the young owls are adorable. May I ask what you did with them? They were obviously trying to fledge but perhaps not managing it very successfully, lol. I guess you'll be keeping an eye on them over the next few days. Keep up the great work!

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    1. Hi Lucy, sorry I forgot to mention that we were in a dilemma as what to do with them, leave them where we found them or put them back in the box, we did the latter, fingers crossed we did the right thing? Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

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  2. Nice one mate you deserve your footie ticket to see the foxes at Norwich be in touch soon mate your a star.cheers Mark.

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    1. Well hello mate, glad you finally got round to leaving a comment on here, much appreciated! Looking forward to the footie if you can arrange it...............

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  3. That was a lucky escape for the juveniles. Personally I think you did the right thing I'm sure curiosity got the better of the young and they were tempted to explore. Good news you've got another brood ringed. A bigger well done to the alert farmer in finding them and his quick response.

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    1. Yes I was pleased too that the farmer alerted me to his discovery, a good bloke!

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  4. Great news mate, again well done for sorting it all out, there are more out there than we expected mate??

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  5. Great teamwork there, Paul, without which two young Barnies would probably have perished. No doubt in my mind - you did what had to be done, and for all the right reasons.

    I take my hat off to you all - - - - Richard

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  6. Call in INTERNATIONAL RESCUE,well done you lot, they would have most certainly been killed without your help, we had it once with ours, its very sad when it happens but also thanks to the farmer.

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    1. I think so too John, I am glad the consensus is that I did the right thing?

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  7. Call in INTERNATIONAL RESCUE,well done you lot, they would have most certainly been killed without your help, we had it once with ours, its very sad when it happens but also thanks to the farmer.

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