Just when I thought it was not safe to look into yet another failed owls nest. Well there is some good news from the doom and gloom of this great British summer we are not having. Seems you can't keep a good Barn owl down, what I mean is that so many nest sites appeared to be doing nothing during the main part of the 08 breeding season, and even though the weather has not improved most of the early none breeding Barn owls are now, yes now in mid August going for it and beginning breeding.
There has been some early success but the general trend is very reduced numbers fledging. So if they started with 5 eggs they are only fledging 2 owlets, or even only 1, and so far in the minority total failure.
The main prey item the Short Tailed Vole in all my study plots is doing very well this year, so that's not the problem. The Owl though does not go out hunting in the pouring rain, and again as I write this late in the evening of the 18th August, outside it is very windy and the rain has not, or appeared to me not to have stopped all day. Now don't get the idea that its all doom and gloom because the pictures below show one brood from this year that have reared 4 Owlets these in a farmhouse in mid Somerset. Were as the other picture shows a young owlet too young to ring or band if your from the U.S.A, this owlet is the last from an original 5 owlets to have hatched.
We have gained some new Barn owl sites this year in Somerset and from the county that used to called Avon, and of course have lost a few. But looking through the results so far it does seem that apart from low brood sizes, the overall picture is still quite good. Some of the new Barn owl nest sites are indeed interesting being located at higher altitude such as Mendip Hills. Were as the most loses have been from the traditional heart lands for this Owl such as the Somerset levels, here the surface water has stayed for longer.
I will blog again soon, happy wildlife watching.