Our habitat management in the Blowers Lodge Bay area has finished and ringing has now started on a regular basis with our first Saturday ringing session of the year beginning yesterday.
Between scrub-bashing sessions we have been able to get out to set some nets up during the week when the weather has permitted and we have already ringed good numbers of Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and one or two Blackcaps.
Yesterday morning we had the opportunity to get plenty of nets up but the wind soon got up which greatly reduced the number of birds caught. However, the first Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat were welcome additions to the days total which included a few more Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. When things were quiet between net rounds, Dave and I took the opportunity to check our owl boxes in Game Wood to see if any Tawnies had taken up residence. Things weren't looking good with squirrel dreys in five boxes, although a pair of Jackdaws have started a nest in their 'regular' box.
On checking the final box Dave netted a Tawny Owl trying to escape.
The picture below shows the owls primary and secondary feathers to be uniform and all of the same generation which confirms the age code as 8 (hatched three or more years ago).
Adult wing (Simon Watts)
She had a fully developed brood patch and on inspection of the box there were four eggs found. She was already ringed and on arriving home I checked on our database to find that she was ringed in 2012 in her 2nd year, in the same wood and again with a brood patch. So this female has been hanging around the area for a few years now and made at least two attempts to raise her young. Last year there were no attempts by Tawny Owls due to Squirrel and Hornets getting in the boxes first so this winter we have ejected the Squirrels before they have had a chance to settle in, giving the Owls a fighting chance this year.
Adult female Tawny Owl (Simon Watts)
So the season of spring arrivals is upon us and our CES project in Blowers Lodge Bay starts in May. Lets hope we have a good year and the birds have an even better one!