Thursday, 7 July 2016

Barn Owls of South Leicestershire

Sorry it's been a while since my last post, but the old replacement hip has taken its toll on my getting out and about, but i'm glad to say it's as good as new now, and no more pain - just got to sort the rest of my body out now! Anyway, enough about my ageing ailments and  back to the 'birding' stuff.  I'm sure I've mentioned before that, with my good mate Paul Riddle, [his blog owlsaboutthatthen -well worth a look) I've been helping to make and erect Little Owl and Barn Owl boxes all over South Leicestershire. We've probably got well over a 100 boxes in place now, and the Little Owl population in this area is thriving; Paul has discovered well over 200 sites where this owl can be found, and we have had good success with our box programme, but over the last 3 or 4 years we have concentrated more on Barn Owls, as the population in this area was poor to say the least, with only 2 or 3 pairs that Paul new of. I am pleased to say that now, in 2016, we probably have at least 12 to 16 pairs to our knowledge, but, as you can imagine, trying to get around all the boxes is near on impossible due to time constraints, logistics and the cost -  to get round all the boxes, you can do quite a few miles across some quite rugged terrain, and it's all funded by Paul himself, so there could be owls that we know nothing about.
Paul was out checking the boxes 3 or 4 weeks ago and we had a total of 21 chicks over 8 boxes,so on Saturday 2nd July, Paul had arranged for Mick Townsend, our ringing mentor, to meet up and go and ring all 21 chicks.  Mick had been on holiday so we had at to wait on his return before we could do anything about ringing the chicks, so with this in mind  we knew that some of the chicks were going to be quite big or even be out of the box
                                                Barn Owl chick waiting his turn to be ringed

We started at our first site around 1pm.  I'm always excited when we start ringing the chicks - not only does it make you feel good that its all been worthwhile after all the hard work that Paul and I do, putting up the boxes - normally when its freezing cold or raining - but its just brilliant to have a Barn Owl chick in your hand and be putting a ring on it.  Paul and I do most of the ringing, watched over by Mick to make sure we doing what we are supposed to be doing and he also takes all the information which is required, ready for the BTO report.  Mick Townsend, who is a very experienced ringer, and as rung birds all over the world, can be found every weekend at Stamford Reservoir where he as been ringing birds for more years there than you would like to mention. We finally finished at our last site some five and half hours later with all the chicks ringed. A good days work, I feel!

                                                       Paul with 3 large chicks
                                               Mick and Paul at another site with 3 chicks
                      Yours truly with a pair of chicks ready to go back into the box having been ringed

As always, thanks for stopping by and any comments are welcome.
The following day my wife and I went to the Farne Isles for a few days, so when I sort through the images I will do post on the birds we encountered there too.


  1. Fantastic to see them doing so well. It is brilliant the work that both you and Paul have done. Judging by the photos I would say you both look extremely proud and so you should be - well done!

  2. Cheers Carl, like I've said when you see the chicks it makes it all worth while.

  3. Great post buddy, I agree with all your "feeling good comments" it is all worth it in the end.

  4. Well done to all concerned. Keep up the good work.

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