Little owl site No 98 was found in Enderby around an hour ago, (6.30pm) it was pitch black so no photos! Haven't got time to go into any further details now as I'm already late for my boozing session (well it is friday night you know!!!).
............More details tomorrow!
Previously used Header Images
Hi and welcome to my Blog, my name is Paul Riddle and I live in south Leicestershire, UK. Back in August 2007 my quest began to locate as many local Little Owl territories as possible. The driving force was a reported decline in the uk numbers so I thought I would do my bit and conduct a study in my area. After 7 years and countless hours out in the field I have detected over 200 different sites. With a thirst for a greater understanding of the owls a more comprehensive monitoring and nest box programme then commenced. This also now includes monitoring the local and very sparse population of Barn Owls, please pop back occasionally and catch up with the life and times of my owls and any other wildlife that I come across. I hope you enjoy your visit!!!
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
I have now finished assembling all my nest boxes (21 in total) only 4 of these have yet to be treated with a preservative and put up in there final position. Every box has been made the same as the image below, this type of box design incorporates some unique features that are intended to attract the attention of the little owl.
• Entrance hole of 70mm in diameter, just right for the little owl but hopefully too small for jackdaws and stock doves but too large for tits and other smaller species.
• An entrance tunnel which goes from the front of the box to the rear ledge, again this is to deter other birds whilst being very suitable for the crawling little owl.
• The rear ledge is intended to keep the juvenile birds in the nest box longer, it is not until they get to a certain age that they are able to scramble/flutter from the nest chamber up onto the ledge, up through the tunnel and out.
• A sloping roof and front overhang was used because this would obviously enable rain to run off the roof easier rather than pool on the top and drain in to the box.
• An access door and latch has been fitted to every box, this will allow quick and simple entry for purposes of observation and ringing tasks.
• Every box was lined with about 2" of fine wood chippings and sawdust, this will help to absorb any moisture and offer an idea substrate for the hen bird to create a depression for the secure location of her eggs.
• Finally every box was treated with a safe timber preserve.
Position of Box
All the selected locations currently hold pairs of little owls; in the majority of cases the actual nest location/entrance was known. Therefore the box was positioned as close as possible without trying to disturb them too much. Where feasible a limb or branch of the nest tree was close or slightly below that of the entrance hole, this would allow for easier juvenile movements to and fro from the box. Where this was not possible a perch of artificial branch was put in place to create the same effect. The secured height of the box from the ground was governed by the height of the existing natural nest entrance, this could have been as low as 4 ft and as high as 25 ft. The direction of the entrance hole was again the same as the existing natural entrance, there didn't seem to be any trends to this, some east some south etc.
The two biggest questions yet to answered and only time will tell are, how do I discourage squirrels from taking up residence in the boxes and can anything else be done to encourage the owls to leave their natural nest sites and take up our offered artificial ones???????
Boring info for anyone who may be interested...........
• Made from 3/4" ply wood
• Height (front) - 14", (rear) - 16"
• Width - 13"
• Depth (front to back) - 13 1/2"
• Weight - 15 lbs
• 9 different sized pieces of timber (pre-cut to size)
• 21 x 2" zinc plated screws
• 8 x 3/4" brass screws
• 2 x brass hinges
• 1 x door clasp and eye
• 2 thunder bolts
• Pre drilling and assembly - 45 to 60 mins
• Wood preserve treatment - 15 mins
• Driving to location and position on tree - 1 to 2 hrs (1 to 4 hrs if a pub visit is to be included!)
All this of course was x 21 TIMES!!!!!!!
• Total cost??????????......inclusive of all materials, fixtures and fittings, treatments, nest materials, erection etc £17.50 each (many thanks to LROS for supplying the timber)
So if you would like to donate a box or two please contact me!!!!!!!!!!
Saturday, 20 February 2010
Friday, 19 February 2010
Made a detour today so I could go past my newest little owl site that I located earlier in the week, deffo an improved image........for now anyway! Too many branches in the way for a really clear shot, the owl was tucked right into the trunk of the tree sheltering from the driving snow.
Site 97, Wistow - Wain Bridge
Another owl from another site just down the road at Wistow, this owl was also trying to take shelter from the driving snow, again too many branches!!.
Site 91, Kilby Bridge - Wayside Farm
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Monday, 15 February 2010
Saturday, 13 February 2010
So after much consideration I decided a larger model was required, one that would offer a little bit more room inside and maybe a more comfortable chair that would sort out my numb bum problem! After much browsing of the internet I couldn't really find a model that met all my requirements so it was on to plan B?
And here it is, my new hide and this model not only meets all my requirements it has an engine as well!!!!
Friday, 12 February 2010
Thursday, 11 February 2010
Lydon Lodge, location No 19 a private site over at Fleckney was my chosen destination, one of my favourite little owl locations and I hadn't been there for sometime.
On occasions this site can produce some really close views.........and as it proved this was one of those days!
Monday, 8 February 2010
Same again Sunday, a whole day erecting nest boxes, 4 more today taking the weekend tally to 7 in total. Only another 13 to go, at this rate I should be done by middle of April!!!!!!!! On first impressions you would think 7-8 boxes could easily be put up in a single day.........oh how wrong I was, good job I'm not on piece work otherwise I’d be bloody skint! I must admit though, a quality hour or so was
wasted taken up in the local country inn sampling a couple of pints of Guinness. This went down really quite well whilst reflecting on what a fantastic job was being done.......NOT!!!
Yours truly up another tree!!! This was obviously before the beer as there is no way I could possible pose like that on a ladder after a couple of pints!!!
Sunday - Box No 1, in an apple tree.
Sunday - Box No 2, on a an old fallen down willow tree, carried the ladder across 2 very large fields to this site and ended up putting the box up 4ft from the ground........what a plonker!
Production has really slowed now......"hic".....post beer!!!!!
Sunday - Box No 3, on the side of an old ash tree, this site produced 2 young in 2009
Sunday - Box No 4, again on an old ash tree, it will be a minor miracle if this box is still up!
Obviously the exact site locations will not be divulged but needless to say they are not far from the pub!!!!!
Many thanks to Daz Sibley, my drinking and box putting up partner for the day.
Saturday, 6 February 2010
A few weeks ago it was decided a nestbox scheme for my little owls would be a good idea, if the birds could be persuaded to relocate from their existing "natural" nest sites to artificial ones it would give greater access to the nest chamber and excellent opportunities to ring the birds. At the moment I don't have the required qualification to ring the owls so Andy Smith of Charnwood Ringers was contacted and he has very kindly offered his services as and when they are requested...........should there be any relocation and breeding success????
Ken Goodrich was very influential in getting some funding from LROS that would enable the purchase of enough timber to make 20 boxes to the same specifications of the box featured in the January issue of the BTO News, further details can be seen/downloaded from this link. Barn Owl Trust.