Sunday, 23 September 2012

Maidwell, Barn Owl advice needed

Barn Owl (tyto alba), Injured?
Normally I would be quite happy to see two separate Barn Owls in as many days, but the above pictured owl causes me some concern, I need the advice/wisdom of those who have a bit more knowledge of Barn Owls than myself.
I decided to spend all of Saturday up at Maidwell, it's normally a good site for Short eared Owls in the winter. I arrived outside Blueberry farm and was speaking to the landowner. She was telling me about how the bloke from The Hawk and Owl Trust was checking a certain owl box and there was six young in it, great. I decided to go to the field nearest to the box but stayed at the bottom of the field. I had a look in a few other fields got some Jays, Bullfinches, a very pale Buzzard, a Short eared Owl having a very high fight with a Raven. But both the Raven and SeOwl was back up near the farm. I hanged around the bottom field near this ditch and was watching from some distance the crows gathering in a tree near the owl box. Was the owl going to come out and start hunting? Twenty minutes went by and nothing (hardly a surprise with all the crows right outside the box) and just happen to glance to my right and saw a white blob low down in a tree. I got the binoculars out and confirmed it was a Barn Owl. Great. I made myself a little less conspicuous, and waited for it to start hunting. But after about half hour nothing, then a Magpie landed in the same tree...nothing. Was I looking at a plastic decoy owl you see people put up on buildings? I started to think something was up when a lady with three Alsatians, a jogger then a bloke on a quad like vehicle feeding the pheasants in the field directly behind (less then five feet behind the owl) it and yet it hadn't flushed away.
THIS WAS NOT way it should've/would've at least move. So once all the people had gone I decided to see if I could get any detail from the binoculars of any injuries and walk towards it. I waited for people to go as I didn't want to draw any attention to the owl if it was injured. I was going to have to cover at least 400 metres to get within range. No clever field craft just slowly walk towards it making a bit of noise. I got to within 10 to 15 metres of the bird and it hadn't even turned it's head. I coughed loudly to get the bird to look up and towards me, nothing, head remained drooped downwards, this wasn't looking good. I coughed again and burst a few frames from the camera. Very slowly the head raised and slowly turned towards me, eyes not quite open as you can see from the images. I did very slowly 135 frames, now anyone will tell (who takes photo's) that ain't right!! It should've gone before I had even taken an image, look at my previous post, and that was 3 frames from the relative seclusion of a van. It was like the owl could hear me, but not see me and was to weak to move. It wasn't, despite what it might look in the image sleeping etc.
Now I'm wondering if it was a juvenile, as if you look at it's chest near the bottom you can see downing. But it appeared very gaunt and weak. I decided to go and let the landowners know as they would be able to contact the Hawk and Owl trust. I turned around to walk away as I did a Red Kite was spotted and the owl must've spotted it because it dropped/fell (not flew) into the hedge below the tree, wings all sprayed out after a few minutes of struggling it got to the base of the hedgerow, where I left it.  I got back to farm and let the land owners know, they told me they would let "Paddy" from the Hawk and Owl trust know. Maybe the crowa had tried to mob it for it's catch and it's been injured? What do you think?


  1. I'm certainly no expert, but it don't sound right to me. I hope Paddy can get to it and sort it out.