Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Barn owls discovered in the area

Today, whilst walking the dogs I found exciting new evidence that there are barn owls around the orchards. This indicates that the chances of one finding my new owl box are pretty good.

There are several ancient hollow ash trees in the hedges around Goose Hill. Many years of repeated pollarding would have reduced the strain of large limbs on the trunk and allowed them to remain healthy for much longer. Trees like this are an undervalued wildlife resource and provide habitats similar to those provided by over-mature fruit trees. The exposed holes at the top of this one seem like an ideal potential barn owl roost.

This photo of the base of the hollow cavity of the tree clearly shows white feathers, the white splashes of droppings and (most characteristically) several fresh large black pellets.

A barn owl pellet from inside the tree. Small mammal populations can be estimated by analysing the proportions of bones from different species in these pellets. They are coughed up rather than excreted.

Herbie and Percy surveying the close proximity of this tree to the orchard containing my new barn owl box. Looks promising!

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