New owls

Last month a lone female took a liking to the new owl box and quickly settled in. Not long after, she started bringing a fella back and they are now officially a couple. No signs of eggs yet but it shouldn’t be long.

Two new barn owls: male on the left and female on the right

19 March 2023. Having set up a third camera on the ledge we’ve managed to work out the leg ring numbers on each owl. The male is a young barn owl, hatched last year at a site five miles from here, and the female much older, almost five years old and has come from a site about nine miles away.

Part of one leg ring (upside down but legible)
One owl posing for a leg ring photo in front of the camera.

Valentine’s Day

And the frogs and toads are gathering. The toads have appeared first, in great numbers, as they head towards the pond. Some can’t wait until they get there.

Two common toads can’t wait until they get to the water.
Lots of frog spawn in the small pond, 19 February 2024.
Common toads and strings of newly-laid toad spawn, 20 February 2024.
Two common toads and a smooth newt, 20 February 2024.

A gang of male common frogs writhing around a lone female (somewhere in the middle).

New house

We’ve taken advantage of the nest box being empty over the winter to replace it with a new one, and have updated the cameras too. Now we wait…

We didn’t have to wait long, two owl pellets appeared overnight: proof of an owl visiting to check out the new accommodation, which must smell strange to them as it’s so new.

Two common toads and a smooth newt, 20 February 2024.

First flight

This evening the younger owlet found enough courage to leap off the nest box ledge for the first time, though rather inelegantly flew straight into a bush. She made a good recovery though and has now flown off to shelter from the rain in a nearby oak tree.

The black spots on their chests show that they’re female.

All alone

The older owlet has already learnt to fly and last night spent most of her time away from the nest box, leaving her younger sister alone to sit on the ledge in the early morning light, before going for a solitary daytime sleep.

The black spots on their chests show that they’re female.


Out in the early morning rain the two owlets wait without success for food. We haven’t seen the adult female for weeks and the adult male doesn’t always appear often and certainly not when it’s raining. So we feed the hungry wobble-heads until they can fend for themselves.

The black spots on their chests show that they’re female.

Owl check-up time

The owlets are about 51 days old so time for a weighing, measuring and ringing by owl expert John Lightfoot from the Shropshire Barn Owl Group. This year we have two females, doing well though one rather under weight. They still have lots of ‘baby’ fluff but are rapidly shedding this to reveal their new feathers which they’ll be using soon as they venture out of the nest box.

Day 42

The two barn owlets are beginning to loose their fluffy covering and reveal their new feathers. Not long before they’ll be trying to get out of the nest box. A combination of the adults and us bringing them food seems to be working.

Day 21

Hunting is not going well for the barn owls, with the father seldom seen and the mother often returning without food. There are just two owlets now and we have started to supplement their food to keep them going. Not an easy decision: should we leave these wild animals alone?

Surprise arrivals

We knew there was a moorhen in the pond, but we didn’t realise there were two and they were nesting! Here’s the result: six chicks, probably only a day old.

The mother spends time feeding the chicks until they can fend for themselves.

Moorhens have very big feet for their size, from the day they hatch!

Growing up fast

The greylag gosling is now two weeks old and growing fast. The adult male has disappeared, leaving the female to bring up the gooselet (no, this isn’t a real word) on her own, but she seems to be doing a good job.

Update 12 June. Three weeks old and doing well!

Update 16 June. Unfortunately it looks as though we’ve lost the greylag gosling. We last saw it a week ago and briefly saw the mother fly off a couple of days ago (she never leaves the gosling on its own). Such is nature, though whether it was a predator like a fox we’ll never know.

Dinner time

The barn owl mum has to multitask, keeping the three owlets under control while sitting on the two remaining eggs, holding dinner (a mouse caught during the night) under a claw while pulling it apart with her beak to feed the hungry pink wrigglers. It won’t be long before they can each down a whole mouse themselves, but in the meantime it’s hard work for the mum. We’re not sure where the dad is: if he’s not around then it will be hard for her to provide enough food for the growing brood on her own..