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Owl Boxes at Warcop and Wathgill

Friday, February 16th 2018

We split the team again today, with Steve and Colin staying on the reserve to run the 'Wonderful Water' event and fill up the bird feeders, and the rest of the team heading off to put up new owl boxes at various MoD sites nearby.

After a quick, early morning stop at Piave to meet Martin and pick up the boxes, the convoy made its way over to Warcop where the last two of the Barn Owl boxes needed replacing.

Martin is a dab hand at getting these boxes up now; in fact getting the ladder over to the tree was by far and away the most time consuming part of the whole process! 

In contrast to the last few days the weather was very kind to us, especially over at Warcop where the sun shone throughout; we were even treated to a glimpse of a Barn Owl as it left the second box.

Although the second box had been occupied the inside really was a bit of a mess, being almost full to the brim of old debris and maggots. It won't take long for our friend to return and find a brand new box full of saw dust and rape seed bedding.   

The perfect spot for an owl box! 

After our fleeting, and yet highly productive visit to Warcop we headed back over Tan Hill and down into Wathgill where we met Sophie and Jenny with an odd looking package.

Over the last few days Sophie has been putting the finishing touches to a DIY Long-eared Owl basket, which she can be seen holding below. 

Sophie used the old metal frame from a hanging basket and weaved willow whips through the gaps before lining it with hessian rags, sticks, spruce branches and moss.

Finding a suitable tree which would take the basket proved difficult, but by using Tony's previous knowledge of Long-eared Owl nesting proclivities we were able to select what we all believed to be the perfect site.

Once half way up the tree Martin spotted an old nest which seemed as good a place as any for our new basket; somehow he even managed to keep the moss inside throughout the whole process. 

Feeling a little left out I decided to get myself up the tree once Martin had finished the job. It was great to be up there and to be able to have an owl-eyed view from the basket, hopefully this is the view that many Long-eared Owl chicks will have in the years to come.


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