Wednesday, 3 April 2013


It won't let me upload pictures!!!!!! The laptop I am using that is because I am not part of the administration team so I have to find out how to change this with the boss who has the pass word! And I have some cool photos to show you!

Anyway do we think its going to be a bumper summer this year? Well I sure hope so because boy is it cold at work especially the biting wind which blows up the flying field. I wanted to go and check a Raven nest the other day back at home but the snow was 5 foot deep at the top of the overhang and I didn't fancy my chances even with a rope! It is a good job this bird chose to build the nest under a decent over hang otherwise it might have looked like the poor Peregrine at Nottingham Trent uni.

This image only worked as I borrowed it from a FB page! What a hardcore mother!

I feel for all the wildlife out there in these extreme weather conditions we have been having but one species that has appeared several times over the last month is the Barn owl. I tend to drive to work early morning and for the past month I've had 4-5 sightings of Barn owl in broad daylight which is a classic sign of the hardships of nature in winter. The Barn owl has had a roller coaster ride in the UK over the last 50 years or more and it is probably the most studied of our native owls with nest boxes schemes over large parts of the UK, fingers crossed this year proves to be a successful year to keep numbers on an upwards trend. As with any predator though their numbers are governed by their prey so the small mammal population will play a huge role in the outcome of the 2013 breeding season.

Barn Owl from my friend Allen Holmes.

Looking at the picture above I'm not sure a species of owl has stirred quite as much emotion in humans and folklore as the Barn owl has, as I type this I can hear the Barn owl in the aviary outside shrieking its very harsh call but they can also make snoring and hissing noises as well. It is actually the most cosmopolitan of all owls in the world only missing from the harsh arctic and antarctic regions and if you look at the classification of the Barn owl you will find owls as an order Strigiformes are split into Tytonidae which is the Barn and Bay owls alone with every other species of owl within the Strigidae. Enough of that banter this late in the evening!

Probably the first bird of prey that drew me into raptors playing a big part of my life but also what an important member of our countryside. An owl of the night with its shrieking and hissing call was often portrayed in earlier days as a creature of ill omen and bad luck even nailed to your door to ward off evil spirits. Little did they know that this bird was in fact the farmers best friend when it came to protecting his produce from rodents, the farms own pest control better than ugly modern plastic bait stations or a song bird slaying moggy!

Sadly the Barn owl now falls foul of our roads and I remember being told once that one in three Barn owl deaths are accounted for by our highways and after seeing them ghosting along the A49 to work this last month I can imagine this to be true. We keep our hedgerows trimmed down car height meaning Barn owls fly straight into the path of vehicles and also the best form of hunting habitat of rank, rough tussocky grassland is mainly found along our roads drawing Barn owl in. Lets start growing taller hedges landowners!

That being said this species is on the limit of its range here on the British Isles and when you factor in the fast pace of life and change this country has seen I think this species has done really well to survive. Along with the hard work of various individuals and conservation groups I think we can enjoy Barn owls in Britain for years to come and who wouldn't want to!

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