2 Tawny Owl Eggs… the excitement builds….

It has been an exciting and frustrating week, as lots has been happening at Yew View and I can only access the cameras via the iCatcher app. I could not wait to get on site and have a look at this week’s footage on the PC rather than via my phone!

My excitement has been caused by the tawnies deciding that this year is going to be the year they are going to breed in our box. This is the third year they have looked in this box and we are, of course, thrilled that they have finally seemed to have decided to nest here.

It took me quite a few hours to go through the footage as there is so much of it! The female laid her first egg last Saturday and then left the box, leaving her egg looking very vulnerable in there on its own. We all felt very nervous until she returned again in the evening.

Make sure you select to watch these clip in HD!

The next thing I wanted to see was the male bringing her food. Once the female has laid and as soon as she starts to incubate, the male will need to provide for her. The better he is at this, the more likely we are to have healthy chicks raised to fledge. Our first meal filmed seems to be a treecreeper! Tawnies will take roosting birds and this is what must have happened on this occasion….

It was a relief when the female started to stay over in the box during the day and great to see her in colour. This box has a small light unit inside. It lights the inside of the box during the day and provides additional IR at night.

Our second egg appeared on the 8th and the female was now incubating and just leaving the box for brief, half hour intervals in darkness.

The male seems to be bringing one or two prey items a night, but the last two the female took at the entrance, so I could not see what they were. You can hear him call to her from outside, letting her know that he is coming in with supper!

She now seems very settled in the box, snoozing during the day and sporadically getting up, rearranging herself, stretching and settling down again…

As you can imagine, this is incredibly exciting and somewhat nerve-wracking. I have numerous owl boxes, with cameras, but this one has the best set up. We have worked hard adapting and changing the box and its lighting to try to get the best possible view. until your target species is actually in there, you can’t tell for sure whether you have it right. The lighting is just about there, as long as she stays where I had predicted she would go… toward the back left hand corner. The focus on the camera also changes slightly when the IR filter is present. This means that the focus is slightly better at night than in the day… I expect more action at night.

I lifted a selection of stills from the footage and these can all be seen on our Flickr Album and in the slideshow below.

 

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It is difficult not to get excited, but we have a very long way to go yet. As I speak, we still only have two eggs. If she was going to lay any more, we would have had one by now. We now face a 30 day incubation, with the first egg due to hatch in the first week of April. I am trying not to imagine the footage of tiny tawny chicks in there!……

Just before she chose this box, she also had a look in the new eco box that I put up just a week before. I had the PTZ cam trained on the box and filmed her landing outside, before going in and having a look!

The tawnies aren’t the only ones to be active this week. The badgers are still in and out of the sett, smuggling their muddy noses all over my cameras! Luckily I designed this sett chamber camera set up so I can easily remove them to clean them (as long as the badgers aren’t in there!) At present, they are visiting and sleeping twice in the night but returning to the other sett during the day. I have some new microphones coming next week for a different set up. The hum you hear at the moment is because the microphone is set up on the camera and is picking up the sound of the internal fan. The new set up will involve running the microphone away from the camera, down a second tube I built into the sett. Hopefully then we will have a better sound system and be able to hear all of that scratching and snoring!

One badger also raided my small mammal box this week. Managing to get the lid off, he scared off the wood mouse inside and then proceeded to eat all the mouse food! Gave quite good footage though!

I’m really please to say we have also male and female kingfishers visiting the post regularly. This male looked resplendent in the Spring sunshine!

We also had a new species to our post… a female reed bunting..

It’s been a great wildlife week at Yew View and. with the sun shining, the whole site is really coming alive…. I just love this time of year!