27 April -- Owl territories continued

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The Nestbox owls' fields and wood, and the God's Own Clay area beyond

This is the same view as in the last pic on the previous page but from further back to show the whole wood. The nestbox owls occupy the right (west) side of the wood and the fields in the foreground. Another pair of tawnies hold a territory in the wood to the left. The centre of the wood is untenanted.

The pics were taken on a beautiful day in early August 2004. After experimenting with aerial pics available on map sites on the web, I decided to take my own. Unfortunately I took the Nikon Coolpix up rather than a film camera. Bad move. First, it had horrible problems focusing on the trees, and second, it took about 12-15 seconds to get ready for the next shot. My hopes of getting an overlapping patchwork were dashed, but I did get some quite nice photos. The plane comes from nearby Headcorn airfield some miles away, and the pilot did a marvellous job of zigzagging back and forth.

The Pine nest owls' nest site and territory

The pine nest owls nest just behind the house -- the pic on the left shows their tree. On the popup version the box with the thicker border marks three pines next to a chicken run, and the nest is in the one at lower left. The other box with a thinner border shows where Owly, our first chick, was released in July 2003. It's right next door, and of course we're hoping that he is the father of this brood.

The photo at right shows part of their territory across the road. The field is probably attractive as it has a long perimeter where voles are likely to be found. This male caught (or found) a Wood Pigeon the other day and left its eaten out carcass in the drive near the nest. Such carcasses are recognisable by the way the chest is cleaned out from under the ribs. The small industrial site at bottom right belongs to British Gates, a retailer of wood and tools.

Another member of the family in the woods

The incredible shrinking owl! This is Sophie out in the woods in September last year. Here she's shown on a feeding ledge tied to the pine at the top of which she came into the world. She shrank because she saw Corinne coming along the path. The idea is to make yourself look like a branch. The three pics were taken about half a minute apart, and in the one on the right she's recognised Corinne and is beginning to relax and expand. (Just a reminder: Sophie is a daughter of the Nestbox owls and fell from a crow's nest in 2005.)

Sophie as she normally looks. The photo was taken on one of our night walks in another wood, Backtilt Wood, which I was checking out to see whether it was already occupied in case it might be a good place to release her.

In these pics you can see how the soft leather jesses are attached. She's good at picking these off when back in the house, but during walks she never tries to remove them.


28 April (London)

A POST DATED 24th March on Bird Forum reports that now one of the offspring of the Yorkshire European Eagle Owls has been found dead in Scotland. The source is a recent Peeblesshire News page. Although the cause of death is not known and the bird was not shot, it seems that many birds of prey have been illegally killed on this estate before. Toxicological tests are being done to determine whether the owl was poisoned.

This follows previous news that the female of the Yorkshire pair was shot about four months ago. She is thought to have taken a week to die. Anyone who watched the BBC programme shown late last year on these wonderful birds will feel quite numbed. They had been together for at least nine years. I seem to remember the programme reported that another of the pair's offspring was found electrocuted under a distribution pole. One can only hope that more will make their way across from Europe.

Here is a link to a report in the Yorkshire Dales Country News, dated 30 Jan, abut the shooting of the female parent. There is a streaming video clip from the documentary about the pair on a BBC News page (requires Windows Media Player or Real Player).



News from the nestbox

Corinne has been perched briefly in Kent and says she saw Mrs Owl in her nestbox this morning. She also says she saw something moving across in front of the owl. A chick? It's quite possible as the oldest will now be 10 or so days old. We'll both be in Kent on Sunday (30th), so whoopee, another night recording and finding out what's going on with both both pairs of owls. And this time I intend to get some photos.

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