Down in one

Now the owlets have their warm fur coats and the weather is good the mother can go out at night hunting for them.

Here she brings back a small mouse, to a lot of fuss from the hungry youngsters. It is the second oldest who gets the prize and duly downs it in one (with a bit of a struggle).

Note the large dead vole on the floor, a little too big for the owlets to eat themselves.

Not so cute

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to baby barn owls after they die in the nest box then here’s the answer. It is rather gross, but it’s real nature doing what nature does, and not letting anything go to waste.

Red in tooth and claw

Cute(ish)

Here are two minutes of baby barn owls goodness. There are four now in the nest with the mother with the smallest two of the original six having succumbed to nature (which we were expecting).

These remainers are looking healthy as they rapidly get bigger and develop their new fur coats (though only the older ones could be described as cute). The oldest one can now open its eyes too.

Here we can just make out five owlets. The sixth may be underneath the mother but we don’t know for sure.

Turning white

The older owlets are rapidly gaining their warm furry white coats and are collectively now too big for the mother to keep underneath her, so she doesn’t bother to try now. It helps for the weather to be warmer too: less need to keep them warm.

Here we can just make out five owlets. The sixth may be underneath the mother but we don’t know for sure.

Six owlets

A noisy breakfast in the barn owl box reveals that the last egg has finally hatched and there are now six owlets, ranging from newborn to ten days old.

Now there are more mouths to feed the male is having to do a lot of hunting, but he’s rising to the challenge and this morning there are eleven tasty (to owls) small mammals on the nest box floor ready for the mother to divide up and give to the six hungry chicks.

Six owlets and lots of food.

Sleepy owlet

We’re not sure how many owlets there are, four or five perhaps (we don’t think the last egg has hatched) but the older ones are clearly getting bigger and more boisterous.

Here the mother struggles to contain her clutch and one owlet pops up behind her, and promptly falls asleep on her wingtip. She doesn’t seem to mind though, as when she turns round to see what’s going on, she just lets it rest.

Ghost of a dragonfly

It’s the time of year for our dragonflies to morph from larvae to adults. Here’s the discarded cast (‘exuvia’) of the old skin, probably from a broad-bodied chaser as we have lots of those here and this cast is quite big (about two inches long).

The ghostly remains of a dragonfly larva.

Confused hen

One of our hens thinks she is a cockerel. ‘Tog’ is an old Speckledy and probably not laying anymore, so with too much time on her hands she has decided to mess around. Turn up the sound to hear why!

Update 15 June. Tog has developed a much larger redder wattle than she used to and has spurs have appeared on her legs. Signs of more than just a passing phase: she does appear to be turning into a cockerel.

Five owlets

We now have five tiny owlets of various ages and sizes and one remaining egg. The mother may appear to be stepping on them but she is really being very gentle trying to keep them under control as they wriggle away in all directions.

Five wriggly pink owlets.

Four owlets

Four of the eggs have now hatched and the mother manages to look after each of the tiny pink owlets as well as continuing to incubate the remaining two eggs.

The fourth owlet is just visible when the mother turns around.

Proud dad

The proud dad is sitting on the nest box keeping an eye out and chattering to the female and chicks inside.

Then off he goes back to his roost box for a rest from a night of hunting.

Two owlets

Last night the female left the nest box briefly to reveal two owlets who, intertwined start chittering loudly to each other. The female calls to them from outside the nest box but they won’t keep quiet until she comes back in and settles back down on them.

Even though the male stays away most of the time he does bring back a lot of food, as you can see from the larder on the floor of the nest box.