It was a bittersweet year for a number of reasons. We ringed 20 Barn Owl chicks and one adult, compared to 26 chicks and one adult in 2021. However, unlike 2021, we lost 3 ringed chicks to predation at the fledging stage and had a brood at the egg / naked young stage also predated. During the drought, one of our ringed chicks became emergency rations for its siblings, as did an unringed chick at another of the boxes.
The result of the Barn Owl boxes breeding 2022 was as follows:
The predation of the three youngsters at Plain Farm was a hugely upsetting experience. I found two of the carcasses on the ground 10m and 15m respectively away from the box. All that remained of those two were the wings, which were fully grown, the spine and the legs: all still connected. Of the third, I found one wing inside the box. It is hard to know what predated the birds. I am aware that Goshawk have recently started to nest in the area. Others have suggested Buzzard or Red Kite, driven to extremes by the drought conditions this summer. Who knows?
We had a major departure from previous years, in that we got access to the stables / outhouses at Clattinger Farm, which enabled us to monitor and ring a number of Swallow nests, and one House Sparrow nest, where they had taken over an unoccupied Swallow nest. The results were as follows:
All of these youngsters fledged successfully. To be honest, the House Sparrow’s nest mates had already fledged and were on various perches in the stable. It was definitely ready to fly off and, indeed did so once ringed. If we had left it a day later I doubt it would have been there.
Plans for 2023:
Over this winter we are adding another 6 boxes to our current set up at 2 new farm locations and replacing derelict boxes at two other locations. White Lodge Farm and Greenacres Farm are new sites. White Lodge will add two boxes near to the provision at Gospel Oak Farm and Greenacres Farm will add one box near to the provision at Drill Farm and Plain Farm. In addition, the plan is to replace two boxes at Swillbrook Farm and one box at Church Farm, Brinkworth.
Also, I plan to expand the Swallow nest monitoring as I have had permission from several local people to do so at their properties.