Owl project update
The barn Owls that I have been baiting, watching and occasionally managing a photograph or two of are now starting to raise a family. A few weeks ago the male and female were seen a few times whilst I was in my hide, their behaviour seemed to change and would sometimes be totally disinterested in the baited perch and would fly around the barn screeching to each over. The place where i go is a working farm and the barns are in use for storing machinery etc but despite the disturbance they have been breeding at this site for many years. Once again this year I believe they have chosen a galvanised water tank approx six feet from the ground to lay their eggs and may well be incubating eggs now. I have decided to carry on baiting the post for the Owls on a daily basis but have decided not to photograph them while they are breeding. The baited post is away from the barn so there is no disturbance when i replenish the bait daily although as I said its a working farm so the birds are accustomed to some disturbance anyway.
Tawny Owls occupy the woodland beside the Barn Owl site and I have now been baiting them for quite a few weeks now. After two weeks of baiting the bait was finally taken and a trail cam was put in place. The bait start to disappear daily but the camera was not picking anything up, it soon became apparent that the bird was swooping down and grabbing the bait without stopping. Day by day the perch was slowly moved up through the wood towards the open fields some 500m away, I wanted to get the perch in the open field before attempting to use a flashgun near the bird, my concern was that the bird may get startled and fly into a tree in the heavily wooded area. A week ago the perch was where I wanted it and the baiting was continued.
Yesterday I sat in the hide and watched the tawny land on the perch about 10m in front of me at 8.15pm just before it was dark it made three visits back to the perch within the hour.
Tonight for the first time I took my camera and flashguns and set up the baited perch. At 8.21 a Blackbird started to give a warning call (one I have heard many times before when cats are about) the agitated blackbird was constantly calling and at 8.23 the Tawny appeared from low down on the woodland edge and flew towards me in the field closely followed by the Blackbird which was obviously trying to drive it away from its nearby nest. The Tawny sat on a spindly branch on the edge of the wood totally un fazed by the Blackbird which was now sat a few metres above it and within a minute was gliding towards my perch, it somehow managed to knock the bait off the perch as it landed so then dropped to the ground where it sat for a few minutes giving me fantastic views of it in the fading daylight. The bird flew off with the bait but reappeared ten minutes later and agin flew to the perch, this time I pressed the shutter as it was about to land and the flashes lit up the area. I decided not to fire the flashes any more that night so just watched and the Tawny flew directly over the post just inches above it on more than 10 occasions in the next hour and a half but would not land.
I decided to rebait the perch and left and hopefully will try again on Friday or Saturday