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The weather continues to be dominated by the wind with storms rolling in off the Atlantic on a regular basis, this in turn is dominating my ringing activities with very few opportunities to get out this month. My only session held in the garden on the 21st, with 15 birds processed including a small flock of 10 Long-tailed tits.

The 30th saw me over in the counties of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire with Carl, Paul and Sarah continuing our work as members of the Bisham Barn Owl Group (BBOG) checking & cleaning out nest boxes ready for this years breeding. Owls will often use boxes outside of the breeding season to roost in, especially when the weather turns colder, so there’s always the possibility of us catching birds during these rounds, alas we didn’t find any BO’s this time.

Following on from the last two seasons of monitoring, ringing and nest recording, this year we are starting a RAS scheme (Retrapping Adults for Survival) one of only 4 such schemes being carried out in the UK this year. More information on RAS here.

We also have Tawny Owl, Little Owl & Kestrel boxes in place and we caught this Little Owl roosting in one.

Little Owl

Little Owl

Little Owl

Little Owl

 

 

 

 

 

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with another early visit to Woolley Firs looking to catch more Redwing, a 0600 hrs start saw 4 of us in the fields setting up in the dark. The weather forecasters haven’t exactly been on top form of recent so we took a slight chance that the wind wouldn’t be as forecast. However it was and this had a big impact on our catch with only 10 birds caught, but at least we did catch a 5 Redwing! Also caught; Yellowhammer, Jay, Great tit, Blue tit and Long-tailed tit. However, I missed most of the action though due to the quick onset of a headache shortly after set-up which had me in the car popping pills (headache remedy pills!).  I was in two minds whether to go home but thought it best to let my pounding head subside first. I didn’t really want to leave because we had plans to ring Tawny and Barn owls later in the day.

Yellowhammer carefully being ringed

Yellowhammer carefully being ringed

 

Jay

Jay

 

 

The wind continued to cause issue, most of all making the nets very visible to the birds, the decision was made to set-down around 1045 hrs after a couple of rounds without birds. I was able to help with take down as my headache was finally easing, which was a relief as this meant I would be ok to ring the owls.

We left site and headed for a cafe for a spot to eat before heading over to Bisham wood and the owls, a very tasty full English was consumed which helped banish the remnant of the headache.

Over the past two years a few members of our ringing group have been taking part in the reinstating of an owl project in some of the woods in and around Berkshire. Initially we had to establish the locations of the boxes and gps them, once this was done we had to clear the boxes out, removing multiple layers of nests or old squirrel dreys, then remove the boxes we considered to be surplus to requirements and relocate in new locations. Many of the boxes have been in place for 10 years so there was also plenty of repairs to do.

So our first port of call for the owls was Bisham Wood,  a couple of Tawny owls had been seen roosting in one of the boxes the previous week and we had high hopes they would still be using the same box, it turned out that they had moved residence but fortunately only along to the next box. We carefully retrieved the Owls and checked to see if they had been ringed before, they both hadn’t so we ringed them. A thorough examination of the wing feathers had us determine they were both adult bird with both having 3 generations of feathers, a wing length was recorded and a weight taken and a few photographs of the open wing for the records before we released them back into the wood.

Tawny Owl

Tawny Owl

The second location, Little Marlow, where we hoped to ring a couple of Barn owls, was just a short 10 minute trip from Bisham wood, a private family house with a Barn owl box in a tree in the garden. A camera was installed in this box so we where able to confirm the owls where in residence with a quick phone call before setting off. This box had had a breeding pair in the summer who had managed to fledge 5 from a brood of 6, which is a very good outcome for Barn owls, the young birds had all been ringed before they’d fledged. Now the box was being used as a roost possibly by the breeding pair. Again we carefully retrieved the birds and ringed them. These two did indeed turn out to be an adult male and female.

Barn Owl

Barn Owls

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

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http://bishambarnowlgroup.blogspot.co.uk/

A new blog dedicated to owls, owl boxes and owl ringing from my friend and fellow ringer, Paul.

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with new backs and roofs, also a preservative treatment.  Now to get them placed.

2013-12-24 15.26.15

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Woolley Firs 02/02/13 

A small team of 4 for this session.

My contribution:- 4

Blabi (Blackbird) 1
Bluti (Blue tit) 2
Coati (Coal tit) 1

Woolley Firs 16/02/2013

Carl and myself were joined by a first time visitor for this session. A total of 25 birds processed.

My contribution:- 23

Bluti (Blue tit)  14
Greti (Great tit) 7
Nutha (Nuthatch) 1
Robin 1

Bisham Wood 23/02/13

A trip to the woods on Saturday to continue with our owl box program another 4 boxes replaced and a further 4 taken off site for refurbishment.

A very cold morning with slight snow flurries throughout and a very cold wind. We retired to the pub afterwards for a warm meal and pint.

Tawny Owl Box BW

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misty grey day today (and yesterday!) spring can’t come to soon for my liking, I spent 3 hours over the farmlands doing a bird survey and saw the 70 or so Redwings that I saw on Friday and all the other usual suspects where spotted I was pleased to see a Little Owl (first one this year) I think it’s the same one that I first spotted last year, then I followed its progress from April and watched it raise 1 owlet to fledging, I think it’s back to reclaim its nesting hole which is normal for this owl. I hope to set up a hide on the nesting site and get some decent photographs this season, fingers crossed!

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