New faces

Six Five new wildflowers identified so far this year. They may not be rare but they’re joining a growing list, now up to 106 different wildflowers her at Tipton’s Croft.

Make it seven six! Here’s garlic mustard (but not in flower yet).

Update: we have misidentified the yellow archangel as a native wildflower. This one is actually an invasive non-native subspecies (Lamiastrum galeobdolon spp argentatum) so we are now busy removing it from the edge of the field. The pale patches on the leaves are what makes it distinct from the native variety.

Invasive non-native interloper!

More owls!

It’s now getting a little confusing. Today there are two owls in the nest box but one of them doesn’t have a ring on its leg so isn’t one of the two owls who have been visiting this week. So we now have at least three owls.

They’re a pair!

The two owls who have each been visiting the nest box seem to know each other a little better than we thought. They’re actually a pair and clearly like the nest box so fingers crossed that they settle in and do what owls do in spring!

The owl isn’t ill!

The new owl has settled in for the day and has time to bring up an owl ‘pellet’. This is perfectly normal behaviour: it’s the undigestible remains of its last meal (such as a field vole or mouse). If the owl stays, within a few weeks the bottom of the nest box will disappear under a thick layer of these pellets. Lovely!

New or old?

After a few weeks of an empty nest we had a visitor last night. Though a brief appearance, it was long enough to not only see the tag on the owl’s leg but also read its number, so hopefully we’ll know whether it is one of our previous owls or a new one. If it is new we’ll find out where it’s come from!

Two days later and another owl appears in the nest box. This one also ringed on the same leg but the number is different. Unfortunately we can’t read the whole number so won’t be able to tell where it’s come from.

Different leg ring = different owl

Happy New Year

The water in the pond is now crystal clear thanks to the rain and cold weather (and no more digging pond extensions). The roach, perch and sticklebacks aren’t so keen though and they’re keeping to the deep water to avoid the herons who stalk around the margins.

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas from Tipton’s Croft. The recent freezing weather, with six inches of ice on the pond (and a frozen borehole) has given way to more familiar dark, wet weather with the occasional welcoming blue sky.

All is not quiet though. The barn owl is still around screeching at night, though isn’t roosting in either of the nest boxes. Herons, little egrets, snipes and wild ducks come to the pond where the roach and perch have retreated to the bottom, appearing only at night in torchlight.

Haws and holly are the only colour in the hedges but goldfinches brighten the edges of the meadow as they feed on knapweed seed heads.

Hopefully we will have visiting sheep soon to keep the meadow grass short until the wildflowers have a chance in the spring.

Winter resident

After a few weeks of no cameras in the nest box (thanks to something nibbling the cables up in the tree) we have fixed the technical issues and now have a good view of the inside of the nest box, where the new barn owl is settling in for the winter. She (see the black dots on her front) isn’t ringed and doesn’t look like our previous owls, so is likely new to the area.

We have a visitor!

The black blob on the bottom of the nest box is a fresh barn owl pellet and the first sign that an owl is around and might be interested in settling in.

A search back through the nest box camera’s saved clips reveals all. The barn owl has been visiting for a couple of days and even rested all day on Friday. We don’t know if it’s male or female, or if it is one of the adults from this year (it is unlikely to be any of the fledglings). We can’t see if it is ringed yet either. Will let you know more when we do.

Almost exactly to the day a barn owl starts to visit the nest box. It was 1 October when we first spotted one last year