Monday, 27 August 2007

Owl box project a success!



I don’t know if anyone remembers about our village owl box project. I wrote about it when we were young and innocent and blogged courtesy of CL.


As part of our local biodiversity project 28 shiny new designer owl boxes were erected within our local parish. For six exhausting days back in February, these huge and unwieldy tawny and barn owl boxes were lugged through fields and over stiles by the intrepid owl box team. I volunteered the keen mountain biker as official photographer, but he was quickly promoted to the wheel barrow and ladder party. Mainly because we owned the wheel barrow and ladder.


The initial opinion was that no owl would even consider their new homes for at least a year. I secretly feared the only occupants were likely to be grey squirrels and magpies, but I’ve been proved wrong.


The owl inspector, yes there really is one, has confirmed a large number of the barn owl boxes are in use. Three separate adults and thirteen young were weighed and tagged, and at the time of inspection, five more eggs were still to hatch. Another box showed signs of habitation by a buzzard. The tawny owl boxes haven’t been checked yet but results should be equally promising.


Owl numbers have plummeted throughout Britain in the past few years, so the results of our little project are enormously exciting and very satisfying.


Now we have to decide upon our next project. Thinking back to those damp and freezing treks across muddy fields, way back at the start of the year, I’m keen on a dormouse village. The boxes are much smaller and easier to carry for a start. Hopefully we will be able to find a sympathetic landowner with just the right sort of coppiced woodland.


If anyone else has been involved in similar projects or if you have any ideas for small scale, inexpensive projects that may help our local flora or fauna I’d love to hear from you.

(Sorry about the rubbish quality of the picture but I had to copy it from our news sheet. It is a picture of one of the owls being tagged.)

18 comments:

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Fantastic! My husband adores owls, he will enjoy reading this blog, as I have. We have a beautiful barn owl here, we don't see it all the time though but I'll try and get J to take a photo. When he's not sat on a tractor.

Crystal xx

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

I suspect we do not have an owl shortage here judging by all the noise they make at night!! But well doen you!!

laurie said...

that is so cool. and yes, that would be quite satisfying.

someone--i don't know who--built dozens and dozens of bluebird boxes two years ago, and put them up on trees and lamp posts all throughout our park.

for the last two springs, we have seen all kinds of gorgeous small birds--goldfinches, and bluebirds, and baltimore orioles--that i have never seen around here before. it's wonderful.

toady said...

That is fantastic - I love owls but sadly being in town I don't get to see many. In France we had a family of barn owls and a couple of great big jobbies, never did find out what variety but if you drove back in late at night they would swoop down from the cedar trees across the garden. Magic.
Toady

Faith said...

Oh that's great - I'm so glad the boxes are being used.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

What a brilliant project to be part of. When they felled the wood near us we were told how good it would be for the owls because the open spaces would make it easier for them when hunting mice.

Yup think the mice heard - we put over 40 out from the live trap . . . It was actually very worrying we seem to have a total infestation and people in the village are saying the same - alot of the forest has been felled around the village - so guess we could all fo with more owls around here.

Exmoorjane said...

Fabulous! Well done. I am a huge owl fan and miss our barn owls....though we seem to have tawnies here which is comforting.

What about bats? Easy to put up boxes for them I think....

btw, afraid all too easy to drink too much Cointreau....I could inhale the stuff. Once notched up half a bottle and...well, that's antoher story. jx

Blossomcottage said...

I too love owls, when I first came to my present house I had one in the barn, but he seems to have disappeared in the last year or so. they often travel in my headlights on my way home at night. I love it when they do.
Blossom

Cait O'Connor said...

That's an interesting project. I do remember your CL blog actually. I love owls and we have tawny ones locally and next door have some boxes.

Tattie Weasle said...

That's fantastic - will put up The Boy's box he got for Xmas at the back fo the property - near the Barns would be too close to the road I fear!
Used to have Tawny owls here but seem to have disappeared - maybe I'll check the box to see if the squirrels have raided...
PS got to know more about the Welsh miner and his fear of frogs....

ChrisH said...

Now that IS good news. What a great story. Look forwards to reading about the next project.

sally's chateau said...

What a terrific project, owls are just so exciting especially to see one in flight, last night we could hear them in the distance. Thanks for dropping by my blog, would the Pyrenees satisfy your man ? we have a lovely view of them from here.

elizabethm said...

wonderful project, love owls and would love to do something similar. we can hear them up here on the hill but I have never seen one. must try harder. just saying hello in the midst of tonight's angst out there.

IrishEyes said...

Glorious! We have an owl that swoops through every evening. I adore owls. There is something very special about them.

Loved this.

Posie Rosie said...

Oh how exciting to be involved in such worthy and satisfying projects, keep us posted.

Exmoorjane said...

Re your comment on mine - we are of a mind! I too, said half a road is better than a whole road, and Adrian looked at me as if I were totally bonkers!

Fennie said...

Wish we had more owls here. Seems ages since I saw one. How do they fly so quietly? - is it something that aircraft manufacturers could copy as they copy now the upturned wingtips of the great birds (but not as yet the 'fingers' that project outwards). Harvest mice would be grand to rescue - but wouldn't a colony attract an equal measure of (harvest) cats? Keep up the good work anythying to restore or ravaged biodiversity must be good.

palomino said...

How wonderful ! We actually have a barn owl box on order at the moment to be attached to the shelter in our back field , which have the neighboring drain and fields around it . We think we have at least two barn owls living in a tree nearby, and always spot them if I'm going out at night as they always swoop in front of the headlights, the daft things . What a lovely blog . I really enjoyed reading it .