Today started off well checking nest sites around Mendip Hills, and then we went to a traditional nesting site for Barn Owl were we found the box had stones clearly lobbed into it and on the platform, which would have made it impossible for the Owls to nest in it. The farmer at this site is very pro all wildlife and a big fan of his Barn owls. Last year in 2009 we found, just one parish away from this site, a Barn Owl nest site clearly interfered with, this resulting in the death of the 4 Owlets. At the time we debated whether this was a one off, now maybe there is something more serious going on. I won't dwell on this any longer just let the video say it all for me.
But there was good news as well today, as we found other nests with owlets in, though the number of owlets in the nests is now reducing in number. This is most likely the result of the drought. All around today the grasslands looked more like the pictures of grasslands in central Spain rather than green and pleasant England. According to Peter Bright (who was with me today), we are having the driest three months for a long time, this of course follows the suppressed grass growth of the dry and cold spring. If this hot dry spells continue then I would worry that some of these Owls just won't make it to branching stage, of course for the farmers now thinking of bringing in the winter feed it will be desperate. Many of the hay fields look parched with no thickness to the grass at all. Acres of brown on the hill do however give way to some green as we move off the hill down on to the Somerset Levels.
Brown instead of green fields
Kestrel Young nearly ready to go
Only 2 Owlets from this site last year it had 4, but Peter and Mick are just as proud