Friday, November 24, 2006


Hi folks,

What a day today! Today my car was due in for a service and new tyres. It's done a lot of hard mileage since April 1st (yeah, I know what day I arrived here.) Actually, I've not had it quite that long, I had to change my car when I got my window smashed by a 4x4 that was driving down the middle of the white line one Sunday Morning.

So, having exhausted my opportunities in the local community today, I went to a couple of beautiful old castle towers to help erect some Barn Owl boxes. I wish I had taken my camera. They were fantastic. I might even go back and get a photo for you. I'm sorry but my camera was in the car, the car was in for service....

We didn't so much "erect" these boxes, as climb up a pair of ladders and pop them on a ledge. Some of the ivy was like a tree-trunk, one had a 15 foot tree growing from one ledge, big enough for me to use in hauling this great bird box onto the ledge.

My colleague, John, is managing the Barn Owl Project and beginning a PhD study of the Barn Owl in Ireland, trying to determine the limits and requirements of each territory. Where a territory is found, John attempts to provide a range a nesting boxes, within and without the territory, so that nesting opportunities are available for both the adults, should they wish to relocate, and the successful brood, who may have to look in another county for an appropriate site. Actually, that probably doesn’t read quite right, recent studies suggest that here in Ireland suitable nesting habitat isn’t significant factor, that we may have a lot of suitable castles and similar old buildings which aren’t being used. There is a secondary reason for us to provide nest-boxes, they are easy to monitor, if we can put them up, then it is even easier to check them. Two years ago, I returned to England for training with my supervisor Dr Jim Fowler , who was supervising the bird-ringing aspects of the research at Muncaster Castle.

Birds that were nesting in Cumbria, which we visited, included pipes in walls more than 8 feet deep, water cisterns and tanks with open tops, holes into cavity walls and boxes, not easy nests to monitor, some of them. A bird-box is ideal, if they weren’t, then birds wouldn’t move into them.

So, if you know the whereabouts of a nesting (or roosting) Barn Owl in England or Ireland, please let me know, and I’ll let the folk know that need to know…. But we do need to know. You may think that you’re looking after them by keeping them private, but we can arrange first-rate nesting accommodation for their young in adjacent territories if we know where they are. First year breeders and inexperienced birds will always be more successful if they are assisted. The route to successful breeding in most birds is possibly littered with many failures. Early breeding success is key in any project of this nature, we need to turn things around quickly. When a species is in sharp decline, then it is probably obvious that we need to have a lot of chicks fledge, we need birds soon, now. In these British and Irish projects, we can assist the young birds whilst not disturbing the adults. If we are going to turn this decline around then we have got to help the experienced breeding pairs as well as the new generation. So, please inform the local agencies of myself directly if you know the whereabouts of a breeding or roosting Barn Owl.

I'm sorry if you're still looking for the swan, but I took it out, it was kinda sad.




Anonymous Anonymous said...

The silver swan, who living had no note,
When death approach'd, unlock'd her silent throat;
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sung her first and last, and sung no more.
Farewell, all joys; O Death, come close mine eyes;
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.

Orlando Gibbons

3:13 PM  
Blogger Davy said...

Agin, tis happn’d, agin this day,

Agi’n, me leg a swan is lay,
The last was good, did live,
And I ken well,
But this one today was fated ill.
With one leg hanging from threads of flesh,
I’d have no skills to fend it,
But I have some friends, and we have one skill,
I have the skill to end it.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Davy said...

By me.

Davy Watson.

4:36 PM  
Blogger simon said...

mate... what can I say? seems that you have the skill, and the most amazing environment to do tis in! for real!


12:27 AM  

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