Lots of pellets

Barn owls catcBest Tower.03.04.20

Viewers will have noticed an increase in the number of pellets in the nest chamber.

Barn owls catch and eat live rodents and birds. Their stomach juices are very powerful and break down all the flesh on their prey but the bones, fur and feathers are not easily digested so the owls eject all this unwanted material in the form of a pellet.

The pellets are coughed up through the bill by the birds as it would not be easy to excrete such a large object.

Ornithologists often analyse these pellets to determine what the owls are eating.

The vast majority of bones identified usually belong to field voles, often making up as much as 75% of the total.

One of the signs indicating imminent egg laying by the female barn owl is when she begins to shred a few pellets to make a comfortable base on which to lay her precious clutch.

We may have to wait until later this month for our pair to reach breeding weight following the harsh winter.

Two owls are regularly roosting in the tower

Capture 20.03.20It is early days but the signs are promising. Our owls are regularly seen together in the nest chamber. It will be sometime yet before we know whether this is the same pair as last season. Our ringers only capture the adults under licence when the chicks are at least two weeks old. We shall then be able to check any rings on their legs.

The signs across the UK as a whole suggest the breeding season may be delayed due to the storms of late winter. The birds lost condition because hunting was so difficult and it will take a while for them to replace the body fat needed to begin breeding. Until then we shall not post many blogs.

 

Getting There

Thanks to the combined valiant efforts of our IT experts (Chris & Taff) here in Bourne together with Joe from StreamDays up in Cheshire, we have this morning been able to restore the sound feed from the Owl Tower. The only remaining item now outstanding is to re-set the flag counter which shows the number of visits to the site.

Fittingly, the sun is shining here in Bourne this morning but once again further rain is forecast over the weekend.

Some Progress

We now have attained a live feed from the Owl Tower. We are still however in the developmental stage, so please bear with us as unknown gremlins may still be lurking in darkened corners! Signs of occupancy are visible with a couple of regurgitated pellets visible at 1950 hrs (UK time) this evening together with one owl.

With the continuing rainfall together with recent high winds and storm conditions, we hear sadly that there has been some depredation of the Barn Owl population, both locally and nationally, as a result of the consequent adverse hunting conditions.  We are therefore crossing fingers and toes for a successful outcome this year at the Tower.

Owl 04.03.20

Gremlins

We were anticipating having the live camera feed up and running by the end of February, unfortunately however, we are currently experiencing some feed problems which our IT expert and the streaming provider are currently battling to overcome. Hopefully, these problems will be sorted during the course of this week.

Earlier this month a pair of Owls were sighted in the area of the tower which hopefully bodes well for this year’s season. Whilst we have (so far!) avoided flooding, we have experienced very high levels of rainfall and the ground is now absolutely sodden which has impacted severely on farming operations. Today at least we have some welcome sunshine with some hight winds.

 

 

Our remaining chick is ten and a half weeks old

The screenshot from earlier this afternoon shows a very contented female owlet surrounded by six field mice.

In the vicinity of the owl tower we have had eight and a quarter inches of rain in the past six weeks! he ground is so saturated it has driven the field mice out of the comfort of their homes and made them easy targets for the adult owls. So we have a surfeit of prey and this is why our remaining chick hasn’t flown the nest yet.

Soon the parent birds will entice her out of the tower so she can learn to hunt prior to her journey into the big wild world.

We shall soon be turning the camera off after what has been a real roller coaster ride of a season with many sad events but with some happy times too. We do hope our viewers have appreciated this intimate view into the lives of barn owls which will doubtlessly have been replicated in other nests all over the country.

Capture 17.11.19