- to join Howard Broughton checking one of his barn owl nesting boxes.
Always a treat to see adult barn owls in ghostly flight, the chance to cop baby owls in the hand was too good an opportunity to miss.
Howard has 140 owl nesting boxes sited in farmland around Rushcliffe south of Nottingham. The recent never-ending cold winter and poor spring badly affected the population of field voles and this has, in turn resulted in especially poor breeding success for these cute owls. Greedy for anything protein, it is voles that make up a large proportion of the baby birds' diet. So far in 2013, only 25 boxes have been successful so we were especially lucky in finding a box containing three healthy babies.
Two females and a male (still several weeks from fledging) were ringed and weighed.
Fresh out of the darkness of their nesting boxes, they lay fluffy and inanimate, captivating us with the intensity of their unblinking, black pools of eyes.
People like Howard are the true local heroes of nature conservation, making a huge positive impact on the breeding success of this iconic bird.