Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Kestrel Chicks

Last night I revisited the Kestrel site that we discovered at the beginning of June to check upon progress. Two plump, healthy chicks were old enough for me to ring them but sadly one of the chicks had died and there was no trace of the fourth. I suspect that he had contributed to the weight gain of his siblings. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Moving On

This pair of Barn Owls were found in one of our nest boxes at Goostrey on Friday evening. The male bird, now in his second year, has found a new, younger mate following the demise of his previous partner. Proving that Barn Owls have no sentimental feelings at all, I discovered them both roosting on top of her dead body! Sadly she had been another victim of the harsh conditions over Winter and Spring.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Little Owl Development

Nest on 26.May

Proud Mum
Brood of three on 12 June
19 June

19 June

19 June

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Food Availability

This first year female was found roosting in one of our most prolific breeding sites at Lach Dennis last night. Although she was in superb condition she showed no signs of being ready to breed this year.
The barn owl box contained lots of pellets and it was noticeable that they were all somewhat smaller than usual. Analysis of the contents of a typical pellet revealed that more shrews than field voles are being taken and the relative sizes of the bones revealed that some of these are younger animals.

Three shrew skulls are on the left (note the diagnostic red on the teeth below) and a couple of short tailed field voles on the right (zigzag teeth patterns). It suggests that although this bird is finding food to hunt, it is not doing so in sufficient quantity or quality to prepare her for breeding yet.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Facial Disc

The facial disc of the Barn Owl plays a vital role in its ability to hear. As a nocturnal hunter the owl depends upon its hearing more than any other sense to be able to locate its prey.
The disc acts like a reflector, amplifying sound and directing it to its ears which sit below the disc feathers. This disc serves as an amplifier which collects and then focuses sound from a large area. One ear is set slightly higher than the other which means that sound will be noticed slightly earlier in one ear than the other and this time lag, although very tiny, is sufficient to enable the bird to know the direction from which the sound has travelled. It can then locate its prey with unerring accuracy.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Lots Going On

We found the first breeding Kestrel of the year last night in a nest box near to Crowley. This female bird was carefully incubating four eggs which should hatch very soon.

In the adjacent field a lone Tawny Owl was found and ringed. The development of the primary flight feathers shows that this bird will be capable of leaving the nest box to hop about on the tree branches very soon.

Moving Around

A check of one of our regular breeding sites in Lach Dennis on Saturday added to the recent disappointments of not finding breeding birds. It was, however, good to find this first year male roosting in the box. He had been ringed in Northeast Cheshire last June, travelling just over 10 miles to set up his new home.
The breeding pair that had been on territory for the past few years were nowhere to be found and at this moment in time the "new" owl does not have a partner.