Not much happening, but the days are ticking by and getting ever so slightly longer. The barn owls are still visiting the nest box at night, often going there just after dusk and in and out until dawn. No sign of the tawnies, but we can still hear them in the woods nearby. The field is soggy, the lake gently overflowing, frost in the mornings and footprints of badgers and foxes, but apart from that all is quiet.
Not a breath of wind and a beautiful clear evening sky.
It does feel a bit voyeuristic watching them spend time together, particularly when they get all frisky and start practising making hootlets.
We have sound (but no music!) as both the barn owls arrive, noisily at first, then romantic silence as they settle in together.
And we start with a new camera – not working properly yet (no sound, video not exporting properly), but once it is we should have day and night videos of the barn owl box.
We think this is the male. Paler markings and no black spots on front unlike the female, and the male tends to be the one seeking out and preparing nest sites.
Say hello to Mr Tawny!
Little doubt this time, different markings compared to a barny owl. Only one so far, hopefully the other is hiding in the nest box.
We heard a tawny hooting last night and these two photos are from the new owl box. Photos aren’t clear but we think a tawny is taking over this box while the barn owls are nesting in the old one. We hope they all get on.
They’re spending more time around the nest box, though not staying in it during the day. A lot of winter to go yet before they nest properly, but it’s looking good so far.
It’s been a couple of weeks and the two barn owls are still hanging around. They’re sleeping somewhere else most days but at night are still taking a great interest in the nest box, so hopefully it fits their requirements for the spring.
We think weasel – quite small, but we couldn’t see the tail which would have decided things.
Hooty’s settling in and currently having a well-earned nap.
And not just one but two: after a year of empty nests we now have a pair of barn owls taking an interest in the old nest box. We’re going to give them plenty of peace and quiet while they settle in. There’s a lot of winter ahead for them but the field is ready, with plenty of scrubland for hunting.
A word of caution though: these two do look like barn owls, but over the past few days we’ve seen distant brief glimpses a pair of what we think were tawny owls (appearing darker than barn owls and more typical behaviour) so we may or may not have those too. Not sure the field is bigger enough for both.
It won’t be long before the trees are bare, so here’s a bit of November colour.
The lake’s over 7 1/2 feet deep and overflowing! Lovely fresh water though.
It’s the season for mushrooms, so here are a few at Tipton’s Croft. We’re not mycologists (though think we know what some of them are) and have definitely not touched or picked them. But we think they look nice.
A Yellow-Tail moth caterpillar, we think!
What a difference twelve months makes. October 2018 to October 2019. Thanks to Mark at Fewtrell Groundworks.
Thanks to John from the Shropshire Barn Owl Group for his visit and advice about how to attract barn owls back to the croft. We’ve cleaned out the nest boxes, laid fresh bedding, cleared overhanging branches, installed some random fence posts nearby (as perches for the owls) and also installed ‘pencil’ cameras in each box so we can easily monitor them. Now we just wait…
Or more specifically, haylage. 28 bales this time, three times as many as last year. Mixed feelings as we now have a bare field rather than a wildflower meadow, and it’s a sure sign summer is coming to an end.