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  1. 25th Barn Owl Blog

    So this week I had the most amazing adventure with Louise from Lu's Owls. We went barn owl box checking with the Pangbourne Barn Owl group. The group has well over 100 boxes that they manage, which includes checking for chicks and box use, ringing the chicks recording all the data and ensuring the boxes are in suitable locations, managing the vegetation around the boxes and helping land owners create ideal hunting grounds for barn owls and others including kestrels and little owls.

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    Tuesday night was a checking night. We had 11 boxes to check spread out over a number of different locations. The first involved carrying the ladders up a very muddy track and was situated in a wonderful cattle paddock high in a stunning oak tree. Unfortunately squirrel had found this one and had started moving in sticks but there was definite evidence that barns had been using it as a regular roost. This data was logged and it was on to the next one.

    25th Barn Owl Blog 2Over a very grassed verge, forging paths through lots of thistles we climbed through a hedge (with the ladders). Two adults where flushed from the boxes we approached which was a fantastic sight. Opening the box Louise discovered 4 chicks. 1 about a week old and 3 which has hatched that day. Plus Vole which had obviously just be bought in. Brilliant result! Quick picture and off to the next box. Again over fields ( trouble with owls is they like the remote places!!) only to discover the next box FULL of twigs and leaves. No good for barn owls. The 4th box not far from the 3rd was a better result. 1 very healthy looking chick with two parents sat out side the box. Great sight. Again all this information is logged with the added note that this chick was large enough to be rung.

    The 5th, 6th and 7th boxes where based on a lovely quiet farm with residence and old buildings. The first box was full of leaves but happily a stock dove egg which was warm so mum was definitely sitting on it. Stock doves are an amber listed bird and therefor their presence is not a bad thing. 

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    The next was very very high up in a barn roof, both Louise and I opted not to climb up to have a look but John found a single Kestrel Chick! A few mins later I heard and then spotted the adult kestrels just on the horizon so we left the chick to it. Recorded and on to the next. The last box on this site was a Little Owl box that John said had never been successful. Louise (who has a 

    passion for Little owls thought that perhaps the easy accessibility for rats may have been the cause here. John noted that this box should be moved.

    The 8th box was an adventure, poor John was adamant that we where at the right tree but the box was missing! After 10 mins of us all spreading out checking other trees we discovered that the box had actually fallen to the floor and was hidden by the long grass, plus a hornets nest was inside. The whole area around the box was a little over grown which isn’t perfect for owls but the short crop surrounding the area may have provided a little more hunting ground. John mentioned that this box had never been successful and perhaps its tumble to the floor signaled it was time for a relocation.

    25th Barn Owl Blog 5The last set of boxes where around what looked to be a very busy farming unit with one of the boxes actually being built into the roof of a new barn converted into offices. This box was filled with Kestrel! 5 Chicks in all. I love the photo we got of them as they all look so bright eyed!!!

    Penultimately was a box we couldn’t access due to trailers being in the way so that will need to be checked at a later date and finally a box that John knows is always busy with either owls or kestrels. This time Barn Owls and 2 young chicks and 1 warm egg. I managed to capture the moment the mum flew out from the box, on video and with the camera, albeit a little blurry!!!

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    25th Barn owls Blog

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    What a fabulous night. It was such a privilege to be invited out and allowed to go along and see these wonderful birds in their natural environment. Driven by the wonderful work of this volunteer group Louise and I are hoping to set up our own Barn Owl group closer to home. So watch this space as i am sure there will be plenty of call for volunteers! More news to come on that. For now Im off to get ready to go and see some puffins!! I promise to post pictures!