Owl box checks at Warcop

Monday, April 30th 2018

After the excitement of Friday's owl box checks at Foxglove I was keen to head out again, and so on Sunday me (Ian), Tony, Martin, and Chris (Warcop Conservation) headed over to Warcop in search for owls and owlets.

We didn't have the start to the day that we anticipated, with the first two owl boxes being frequented by Jackdaws, including this rather bizarre individual. Clearly suffering from a severe beak deformity, you could almost be forgiven for thinking it was a member of some strange sub-species of crossbilled Jackdaws.

Eventually we came across our first Barn Owl of the day not long after, however it was the next box that proved most interesting...

Upon dipping down into a gully we could see the box in question, our hearts sank as yet another Jackdaw flew out of the box opening. It seemed that we would find yet another nest box filled with the untidy materials with which these corvids decide to nest with.

Martin got quite the shock then, when he peered in to find a Tawny owl fast asleep in one corner of the box. 

He got even more of a shock to find that both birds were cohabiting the box and sitting on eggs. In the picture below (sorry for the quality) you can make out the Tawny eggs at the back left, and to the front right five Jackdaw eggs.

Presumably the Tawny owl was allowing this to happen much in the same way us humans like to have a well stocked fridge.

While all this was going on Tony was seeing to a Dipper nest not 20 meters away from the Tawny owl/Jackdaw nest box, from which we ringed five chicks.

N.B. All funds towards buying Tony a pair of wellies can be given via the donation box at Foxglove or handed to a Reserve Manager.

Things really got going from here, in quick succession we came across four more boxes frequented by Barn Owls, with six eggs between them (1,0,4,1), and a further two boxes home to Tawny Owls, both with two chicks.

Both Tawny Owl nest boxes had a very well developed chick and the other less so, but still a fair way on. This little chap kept dozing off throughout the whole proceedings, not being fazed in the slightest! 

All in all, a great day out at Warcop. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and if anybody else wants to get involved please get in touch with Tony or contact the reserve managers via foxglovecovertlnr@btinternet.com

I would be remiss not to also thank Sgt Mack for coming in today to help me tidy up the brash collected from the final Heathland paddock, we got a surprising amount shifted in one afternoon!


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