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.
The lake has filled and improved enought to add some native fish, so in goes a bucket of roach, accompanied by some expert advice.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Day 16. Three owlets survived the night, we’re not sure about the fourth: it might be somewhere under the mother.
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)
The hootlets are getting more boisterous and never seem to sleep. The biggest one, here, can now open its eyes.
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!
So must be a Common Blue Damselfly, sitting on a new water lilly leaf.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Day 9. We don’t know! At least three but the female isn’t moving from over them so we can’t see. They’re certainly making a lot of noise. Here she is chittering away to them while dad keeps an eye out.
Day 6. All going according to plan.
Day 3. The female briefly left the nest last night, revealing the scrawny little two day old hatchling. Turn up the volume to hear it calling for her to return, which she duly does.
The male has been spending most of the nights hunting for his new family, successfully judging by the field voles lying on the left in the nest box.
Day 1. It’s been a long month of waiting, but this morning we had our first barn owl hatching. Both mother and baby are doing fine (father is wisely staying well out of it as you can see).
No view of the baby but turn up the volume and you can hear the egg cracking open and (we think) its first high-pitched call as the mother chatters to it.