Thursday, 15 December 2011

2011: A summary.

As a busy 2011 draws to a close we can reflect upon what turned out to be a pretty good year for Mid- Cheshire's Barn Owls. After two harsh winters we were not really sure quite what to expect in the breeding season and whilst the year was not our best it still turned out to be quite productive.

We located 41 successful breeding pairs which managed to fledge 110 young. Additionally I ringed 18 new adult birds and 22 were found from previous years. One of our birds which was ringed as a chick near Whatcroft in 2005 had the bad taste to fly south to Shropshire where she is still breeding successfully. She is now the oldest breeding Mid-Cheshire bird that we know about.

This splendid female has bred for three consecutive years in the Lach Dennis area and has managed to raise seven young birds in that time. Her second brood of four birds in 2010 however, had not manage to fledge.

This female is the most heavily marked individual that I have ever come across and she also has bred for three consecutive years near Weaverham. She has managed to raise thirteen young birds in that time. Sadly one of her brood was found dead on the roadside at Oakmere in September.

Birds that fly into the path of traffic represent the biggest killer of Barn Owls in Britain and of the eight dead birds that have been recovered in 2011, six were the victims of road side kills. One was found frozen to death last winter and the other had flown into a building, sustaining a broken neck as a consequence.

The year has also seen us erect 43 new boxes and replace 17 of our older ones. Birds seem to readily take to the new boxes and this week I found out that this male bird is still roosting in a box that was replaced in October.

We look forward to 2012 and hope that we can continue to enjoy more of these magnificent birds in our countryside.

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