My, my, my, it's been a busy few days! Leaving aside the saga of the incurable computer (a new hard disk should solve my problems), Peter and I have visited a slather of Barn Owl boxes and had the pleasure of seeing a score or more healthy owlets in various boxes, and the pain of finding a few dead ones in or under others, no doubt driven to jump because they were so hungry. There are plenty of voles and mice about, but wind and rain, of which we have had a lot lately, make it difficult for the parent birds to catch them In desperation, some Barn Owls have been taking avian prey, such as young Blackbirds and Starlings.
It's too early for a final verdict, but it looks as if this will be poor year overall, with low productivity, lots of failures, lots of late clutches which might well not make it, and very little chance of second broods, given that most birds started laying on or after the third week of April.
Two highlights of this week's barnowling. First, we visited a box at a fruit farm, which contained two fat and feisty young ones. The owner was so delighted that she gave us each a punnet of raspberries. So tonight it's raspberries with thick yogurt and a light covering of sugar for me. The second was that I finally got a chance to look at Mary Parker's box. It's a lovely box, as indeed is its owner, a vivacious Irish lady with a twinkle, but sadly the box contained only the base of a squirrel drey. In a way, I am glad that Ms Parker was in the shower and therefore wasn't present to experience that awful sense of failure when you discover that your box has not been appreciated. But not to worry, a beautiful box like hers is bound to do the business next season, or my name isn't Benjamin Disraeli.