Second home?

The pair of barn owls aren’t out hunting all night: we’ve found that they’re also spending a lot of time in another nest box which until now was empty. They may be checking it out as as an alternative nesting site, or hopefully they will use it as a daytime roost and keep the first nest box as their nesting site: that way we will see a lot more of them in the spring.

The female gives the male some attention, preening his flight feathers for him.

Happy Halloween!

We’ve had a good crop of pumpkins this year, way too much to us or the chickens to eat so have donated most of them to local schools and they’ve proved very popular on account of being somewhat larger than typical ones from the supermarket.

The evil-looking black creature is real!

Ta-da!

Hooty has a surprise for you. We shall reveal all very soon!

And here it is!

Hooty has a boyfriend! He’s the one spreading his wings, and giving her a hard time. Turned up this morning, perhaps rained out of wherever he’s been roosting. Not the time of year for nesting so she may have to put up with him mucking around all winter.

Mud, glorious mud

It’s not always bucolic beauty at Tipton’s Croft. Here’s part of the field after completing some essential drainage work. We’ll take the opportunity to spread some more wildflower seeds on the bare ground and in six months time it will look even better than it did before.

Haircut

A late season cut of hay from the meadow (so that the wildflowers have had a chance to seed). Only twenty bales this year, due to the dry spring but it’s good to have the field being productive as well as being an oasis for wildlife.

It looks a bit bare but it’s all part of the cycle of a wildflower meadow.

First flight

The two fledgling stock doves couldn’t get out of the barn owl nest box (due to the entrance being too high up) so we took the side off to help them. Here’s one of them mustering up enough courage to make its first flight. Its nervousness may be partly related to the nest box being about twelve feet off the ground.

You can just make out the other fledgling on a branch next to the nest box. It had just made its first flight and was encouraging its sibling.

A new owl!

The empty nest didn’t stay empty for long. We only just had time to renovate the second owl box before this beautiful specimen arrived. He (or she, we can’t tell yet) is unlikely to be one of the youngsters who recently dispersed, may be one of the adults (though we haven’t seen them for months) or more likely a new owl seeking out its own territory.

After reviewing the video we think likely a new owl – the way it takes an interest in the camera makes us think it hasn’t seen one before.

And on even more reviewing, we think it is a female – the darker tail and a glimpse of black spots on the white chest. We’re going to set up a second camera on the outside of the nest box which should give a better view.

That empty nest feeling

At last the two owlets have dispersed. They started coming back less and less during the night as they grew more confident and able to hunt for themselves, and we now haven’t seen them for over two weeks. They’re out there somewhere: perhaps the next time you see a barn owl it might be one of them.

They just won’t go!

It’s hard to tell if they’re not hunting well, or they just like free food, but they keep coming back to the nest box. We’re only putting food out every third night and they don’t hang around all the night, but should we cut down more and force them to cope on they’re own? The daft pair of wobbleheads need to get their act together.

Wriggly season

It’s the season for caterpillars of all sorts (though we could do without the Large Whites on our cabbages).

Almost there

Day 84. Twelve weeks old and our work is almost done. The two owls (no longer owlets?) are occasionally returning to the nest box, but no longer constantly calling for food, so we think they are now able to hunt and feed on their own. We’ll leave the occasional dinner for them, just to make sure (and because we’ve got a whole bag of them taking up space in our freezer!), but this (blurred and grainy) photo taken at dusk may be the last.

I remember you when you were a cute little egg!