Of the five species of owl to be found in the UK, the Tawny Owl is by some distance the most common with an estimated 50,000 breeding pairs. But for the first 50 years of my life, I have had no exposure to them – I hadn’t heard them or seen them. So their regular presence here in the meadows is tremendously exciting for me and to hear them calling over the meadows at dusk is the most fantastic spine-chilling thing. I think I am now a little bit obsessed.
They are primarily a bird of woodland, but they seem to like it here and that must be something to do with our rodent population which is, in turn, something to do with how we are managing the grassland.
A pair of birds will remain in the same territory for the whole of their lives if they can. Their young, however, will be required to leave that territory each autumn although they never go far. With that in mind, we have today put up a Tawny Owl box. Maybe there are owls that fledged locally last year that are looking for somewhere to set up home this spring to raise their own young.
We have put the box high up in a pine tree with a branch nearby for any owlets to jump out onto to stretch their legs and wings.
The advice for siting a box is that there should be a clear flight path in. Here is the view from the box – not sure whether this is clear enough but we will give it a go for this year:
So that is that job done and now we wait to see.
Another project we have on this Spring is to rotivate a strip of ground to produce a bare soil habitat to attract Turtle Doves when they return to the UK this Spring. This afternoon an equipment hire company in Broadstairs delivered a heavy duty rotivator so that we could get to work over the weekend. Here we are being shown how to use it:
However, unfortunately all did not go to plan. The machine was just not big and heavy enough to break up the grass sward and so it went back on the lorry to return to Broadstairs.
We now need to think what to try next. The hire company man deals with a lot of landscape contractors and he is kindly going to ask around next week for ideas from them as to what we can do and so hopefully something will come of that. We also know a local landscape gardener who has done a lot of work around here who we will speak to.
So that’s an on-going thing that we hope to get sorted in the next couple of weeks. And in the meantime, I hope those Tawny Owls get busy checking out the new luxury living accommodation that has just come onto the market and find it to their liking.