In Dusk We Trust - Some Owling in Co.Durham, North East England, Great Britain
Leucistic Little Owl image copyright Hilary Chambers, Durham.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Where sheep are sheep & men are....

Couple of hours at end of the day to check on some neglected Barnie roost sites on the Limestone.

Depending on aspect, Limestone nest sites can be unmistakable - years & years of splash stands like a white beacon, especially when under an overhang or otherwise sheltered from the elements.
Obvious white splash

Roost sites on the other hand can be much harder to locate - rock faces are littered with nooks & crannies - birds could be anywhere.........

NB: (A good tip when prospecting for any cavity dwelling owl (raptor or duck too) is to check for down feather caught in cobwebs.)

That was the case today, with only a few subtle clues on show.
A few small dots of splash didn't look like they were worth following up,
2 down feathers & tiny bit splash

but a check binoculars revealed 2 pale down feathers -  there you go.

Moving to the overgrown base of the slope, it took a while but I found a handful of large & quite recent BO pellets - almost there.
Barn Owl pellets - big & black

A scramble up through bramble & thorn got me 30' higher, where 1 very fresh pellet confirmed the roost as active.
looking down - NB telescope in top RHcorner.

From here, the otherwise hidden entrance to cavity held many more pellets & downy feathers.
roost cavity

Yes, a bit of a faff on, but far better than a stand & hope speculative visit as the light fades.

In fact id much rather do a bit detective work like this than hump a pair of ladders around checking nest boxes.

To end on a lighter note - I wasn't expecting to have this charge out at me :-
you know its a rough area when the sheep hide in caves !

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