Owl Box Update

Earlier in the year we put up two owl boxes for the tawny owls we have in the area and I’m happy to say we have chicks in one of them!!!

Unfortunately they’re great tit chicks!! They certainly have gone for the executive suite.

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However the owls have nested in the same place as last year and we found two chicks braving the strong winds yesterday.

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Tawny Owls

On a recent walk in the woods a tawny owl was spooked by other birds and flew into a nearby tree. After a good few minutes trying to relocate where it had landed, as its incredible camouflage blended it in perfectly with the trees, we managed to spot it and snapped a few pictures.

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The tawny owl is about the size of a woodpigeon. with a rounded body and head and a ring of darker feathers around its face surrounding its dark eyes. They are a reddish brown colour above with paler markings underneath, and are a widespread breeding bird in England, Wales and Scotland but are not found in Ireland. Tawny owls will stay in one location with established pairs probably never leaving their territories.

We moved on and left the owl to snooze in the tree, but a couple of days later we were in the same area and began to have a look to see if it was still around. Not only was the adult perched in a tree but so were two young owlets just starting to branch from the nest. High up and almost hidden in the foliage these young owls were about half way from their downy fluff to full adult plumage.

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The two owlets were well spaced out but were in sight of the adult. Tawny owls have up to four chicks and the parents will feed them for the first 3-4 months of their life before leaving them to hunt and feed for themselves as they disperse from the nest territory during Autumn. Tawnies eat small mammals and rodents, small birds, frogs, fish, insects and worms, and as the area where they were was close to a small lake with a large frog population I would assume these figure largely in their diet.

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A subsequent visit a few days later and after a long search to track them down we discovered that there were in fact three owlets and having moved to a new tree were all in close proximity. They were becoming ever harder to spot unless you caught sight of a movement, but there was always a parent close by keeping an eye on them and on us.

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They seem now to have disappeared as we haven’t located them for over a week. They will now be more mobile in the tree tops and may well be some distance away from the original place we spotted them. The landowners have agreed to let us put up a couple of tawny owl nest boxes on the other side of the lake so hopefully we will get more of these beautiful creatures patrolling the woods and enjoying the frogs!

 

 

 

257/365 – Blue Skies Red Kites

A couple of times a year I have to visit our office in Berkshire which although a bit of a trek from Yorkshire does mean I can meander on my way there or back and stop off on the Downs to watch the red kites.

This is where I first began to notice the kites after their re-introduction and they always captured my imagination effortlessly soaring on the thermals over the countryside. Being able to spend a couple of hours watching and photographing them is always an amazing experience.

Soaring red kite

Soaring red kite

On this particular occasion a farmer was mowing a field and this had attracted the attention of at least a dozen kites who were on the lookout for anything disturbed by the tractor. It also meant they were very close to the roadside making photography so much easier.

Red kite

I think he’s seen me

They were so intent on looking for prey they weren’t bothered by my presence in the slightest and flew close and low.

Low flying kite

Low flying kite

I dread to think how much time I would spend watching these majestic bird if I still lived on their doorstep!!

Red kite

On the hunt