First Owlets of the Season

Monday, April 29th 2013

The 'silly season' is upon us and the Foxglove bird ringing team have been checking some of the several hundred nest boxes out on the military training area. If you spot a group of people carrying hammers, nets and ladders in the middle of nowhere don't panic they are not as suspicious as they may first appear! On site repairs to some of the older boxes are carried out en route hence the hammer and bucket (completely over full) of nails.

Owling Team

The Tawny Owls are one of the first species to lay and some of them have been using the special boxes for many consecutive years. The female sits on the eggs while the male hunts for food; she hardly leaves the box until the eggs are hatched. Most of the female adults are already ringed in which case the unique number is noted down. This provides useful information on site fidelity and longevity. One of the owls is definitely 13 years old. Occasionally, a new bird is discovered and and a new ring is carefully fitted by the licensed ringers.  This is a fantastic training opportunity.

Ringing Tawny Owl

The owls are held in a special way to cause no harm to either owl or person (Tawny talons are extremely sharp)!

Tawny Owl

Once all of the relevant information has been gleaned, the owls are gently returned to their nest.

Putting the owl back

So far there have been mixed results. The owls have laid later than usual and many are still on eggs. However, in one box there were two healthy young chicks and a dead mole for food.

Owl chicks

As well as checking the owl boxes, a start has been made on some of the smaller ones that usually hold Dippers - another early breeder.  A second clutch of Dippers had not been as succesful as the first one checked only the week before. One out of the five eggs had hatched. Soon after this chick fledges the adults will have a second clutch, fingers crossed that they will have more luck next time.

Dipper chick

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