Over the past couple of weeks, as well as finishing off all the Chough colour-ringing and starting this year's Nightjar work we have been trying to get around a good few Kestrel and Barn Owl sites too. Paul indicated in his last post that the season was looking both early and productive and this has been borne out by the findings at other sites visited since. Clearly it is a very good vole year, hardly surprising given the very mild winter we experienced, and of 5 Kestrel nests ringed so far three were broods of 5 and 2 were broods of 6.
Checking a Kestrel nestbox
(well actually it was a Chough nest box that had been used by Kestrels!)
Six Kestrels is a pretty good consolation for not having any Choughs in the box!
All those mouths to feed means the adults were pretty busy hunting
Five Kestrels at a Shropshire nest site.
Thanks to Michelle Frater for the photo and for finding the nest in the first place.
Barn Owls similarly have big broods of heavy chicks with many nests containing a stash of surplus food. Broods of Barn Owls encountered so far are 1 of 6, 2 of 5, 4 of 4 and 1 of 3.
Two of a health brood of five ringed earlier today
An adult caught earlier in the week. The brood patch on this bird confirmed it as a female although the plumage is fairly pale with very little spotting underneath
It is great to see Barn Owls bouncing back from the lows of last year following the harsh winter of 2011/12. Hopefully this year's bumper early crop will further the re-occupation of many of the currently deserted inland sites.