Four weeks old

28 days since the first egg hatched and both remaining hootlets are doing well. A good night of hunting last night with even the dad bringing back food for the youngsters. They’re getting bigger, more boisterous and feathers getting longer.

The two hootlets wait for dad to return.

The younger hootlet isn’t ill, just trying to get some sleep!

Mud pies

A flock of house martins has descended on the lake to collect mud for their nest building. We thought they were swallows but the white rump, shorter tail and lack of red on the face = house martin.

Tipton’s Croft isn’t always about owls!

First feathers

Day 27. The two furballs are getting bigger, and now showing the first signs of feathers underneath the fluff. Too big now for the mother to sit on and she has to endure constant attention-seeking behaviour. Hunting is still not great so we are having to carefully supplement feed them (mostly with field mice that we are catching in the field).

Watch for the mother preening her flight feathers and then one of the owlets trying to help by imitating this behaviour.

Down in one

Day 23. Better hunting by the female last night, thank goodness, so two juicy field mice for the hootlets’ breakfast. The older furball has been dominating the feeding recently so it’s good to see the younger getting a chance: here it is managing, with some difficulty, to down it in one.

Fish!

The lake has filled and improved enought to add some native fish, so in goes a bucket of roach, accompanied by some expert advice.

A bit of cold fresh water and they all sprung into life and disappeared into the depths.

5, 4, 3…

Day 22. A difficult couple of days where we lost another tiny hootlet and are now down to two. This is almost certainly down to lack of food, with neither parent bringing back enough. The dad had been absent but has now returned to join them during the day, and last night the mother brought back a big fat mole. The remaining furballs are looking healthy and active but we may need to supplement feed them so are getting advice and keeping a close eye on the situation.

Being a parent is so stressful!

Dad’s back, but empty-handed (empty-clawed, empty-beaked?)

Not so hungry

Day 20. The mother brought back two fat field voles last night so the three wobbleheads have fed well, and are now spending the day annoying her and each other. Still no sight of the dad though.

Not sure why video quality a bit poor – time to investigate camera settings.

Hungry

Day 19. Neither parent brought any food back tonight (and the male has started staying away during the day) so the three owlets are getting hungry. Hopefully more luck tonight.

Still three

Day 18. The three remaining hootlets seem to be OK, but the dad is being pretty useless, going out all night and coming back without any food for them. The female had to go out last night so they didn’t go hungry. He even had the nerve to want ‘make babies’ again with her again today.

Raw nature

Day 16. It’s been hard to tell how many owlets there are in the fluffy heap in the nest box but this clip from last night shows all five eggs had hatched, but one of the youngest has died and the next smallest is unlikely to survive as it is too young to fend for itself (the adults are now no longer feeding each of them but just bringing in and leaving whole prey).

Five owlets but one dead (lying on the right of the others) and one unlikely to survive (it appears, struggling, from under the left of the largest owlet)

Dinner time

Day 15. The female is now going out hunting for the hootlets but they’re still too small to feed themselves so she has cut up their meal and feed bits of field vole to each of them. Yum!

Escapee

Day 13. Our first daytime glimpse of one of the hatchlings, trying to escape from the mum. As the days go by the noisy bundle of fluff is getting bigger and harder for her to keep on top of it.

One, two, three and a tiny four

Day 12. Four hootlets, getting noisier and more boisterous as they get bigger. The mother is leaving the nest from time to time during the night, now that it is warmer and the owlets are developing their owl downy insulation.

The fourth owl (top right of the group) is very small in comparison as it was the last to hatch. It may well not survive as the adults would struggle to feed all four.

Greylags

A group of Greylag Geese descended on the lake today, just for a brief stop over, which is just as well because the lake’s a bit small for geese, who would make a lot of mess and annoy* the tadpoles.

*in other words, eat

Three, we think

Day 10. The female Barn Owl briefly left the nest box last night so we had a glimpse of the new hoots – three all lying in a bundle (one only just in view). A good night hunting – three field voles brought back by the male so hungy mouths fed.