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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Barn Owls and Owlets at Charlecote Park

I have to say I love volunteering at National Trust's Charlecote Park. This year I have had the opportunity to experience so many new things. Volunteering is not just about giving but also what you get back from it, which for me is so much. Last night was one of those special experiences I was so happy to be part of.

I have been able to join the Volunteer Ornithologists a few times over the last year at Charlecote Park  and I have been able to see some amazing birds and at so many different stages of their lives. They were just amazing to see and an experience I will not forget.

My favourite experiences while out with the Volunteer Ornithologists has to be that of the Kestrels and both types of Owls (Tawny and Barn). This year Charlecote Park has been very lucky to have two sets of mating Barn Owls within the grounds. The first set I photographed in June.

Barn Owls on average have about three to four Owlets. We had four in the the first nesting box. The photograph of these lovely birds is above. Expecting the same amount in the second nest, I was very surprised when seven young Barn Owlets came out of the box. That makes eleven new Barn Owls born at Charlecote Park this year. I think that is wonderful and I was so happy to have seen both sets of birds.

            These are the seven Barn Owlets from last night (Tuesday evening). 

With so many Owlets you could easily see the different stages of development from the youngest, with all it's white fluff to the oldest with it's glorious rich coloured feathers. You can see the youngest one at the front on the right in the picture above. I did not take any pictures of the youngest ones on their own as they were carefully placed straight back into the bird box as soon as they had been ringed. The rest followed very soon after.

For those who do not read my blogs often....The Volunteer Ornithologists have special licenses issued from the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) to ring birds. It is against the law for people without licenses to disturb a nest or handle these beautiful creatures. When I am out with the Volunteer Ornithologists, I am not allowed to handle the birds at all. I just stand back and observe but what I can do is share my experiences with you all :)

Barn Owls lay one egg every two to three days and the eggs will normally hatch in the same order they were laid. Unlike most birds who will wait until all their eggs are laid before starting to incubate them, a Barn Owl will start incubation as soon as the first egg is laid. Incubation takes around 30 days. If my maths is correct, that would make the oldest Owlet around three weeks older than the youngest one but what a difference in their development. In around 63 days a Barn Owl is fully grown. They normally leave their parents when they are between 12-14 weeks but some do not go far.

Some of these photos are a little dark as the ringing was done as the Sun came down as these birds don't like bright lights so no flash was used either. Their nest is in one of the larger bird boxes so they have been living in the dark since they were born. 

Look at the lovely feathers on the oldest Owlet.

The markings are beautiful.

This ones face looks really cute.

This is one of the middle aged Owlets in this group.

A full grown Barn owl taken earlier this year at a display given during the Summer months. I have not been able to catch the adult Barn Owls that live at Charlecote yet but I will one day.

This Owl decided it was going to explore Charlecote on it's own and found a nice tree to rest in.

I have a little extra for you today. An area not open to visitors is that of the Deer Sanctuary. These Barn Owls were nesting on a tree within this area which gave me an opportunity to take and share a couple of photos with you.
The first one is that of a Fawn and Doe watching what I was doing. I really like this picture.
The deer at Charlecote Park are free to roam the Park which is why you can see them anywhere but this area is not for visitors as everyone needs time out from time to time.

Next I have a photo of Charlecote with the low warm Sun shining on it. A view not many people get to see as it is taken from within the sanctuary. Note to myself..... I must re-take this photo once the Autumn colours have really set in. I think it would make a beautiful picture and maybe a lovely  painting.

And the view the other way towards Alveston as we were leaving. Click on the images to view them properly. Not the best sunset but still a lovely view.

And of course last night was the night of the Last Super Moon of the year. I didn't take a photo of it as I enjoyed the view on my drive home from Charlecote but I did take the August Super Moon instead. Owls, Moons and Sunsets just sort of go together I think.

                            I hope you enjoyed this blog, thanks for reading it.

For more on volunteering at Charlecote Park or any other National Trust property, here are a couple of links.


                                      Copyright Jana Eastwood 

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