Over the last month or so, I have been investigating the possibililty of barn owls in my area. I have spoken to local land owners. The farmer who farms most of the land around me has lived here all of his life, with his father also farming this area. He can remember barn owls being around, but had not seen any recently. Further investigations offered some promising possible sightings. I also placed some posters around, appealing for anyone who had seen a barn owl in the area, to get in touch. This revealed two more confirmed sightings….. I was getting excitied now! I contacted Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, who have a Barn Owl Action Group and Helen, who is in charge of that section, came out and did a recce of the local area. She highlighted a couple of possible locations that ticked all the barn owl boxes…. rough grassland…. ideal for voles.
My next port of call was Ricky at Riverside woodcraft. He had worked with the Barn Owl Trust to design and build a barn owl box. On hearing about these, I ordered two. My local farmer was keen to support me in my bid to encourage barn owls back to the area and agreed to buy one for his land! Thank you Paul and Helen!
On speaking to another local land owner about the project, he was more than happy to agree to me mounting my box on a tree on his land. It faces a field that is absolutely perfect for barn owls and both he and some other local people, have seen one in this location. In fact, when I took it down to him this morning, he had seen a barn owl perching on a telegraph pole on his land just a couple of evening ago… such brilliant news! I have spent a couple of evenings sitting near to this field, but have not seen one yet. So good to know they are around though.
The nest box is a monster! Really beautifully made (as are all of Ricky’s products) but as it is made of solid wood, rather than ply wood, it is very heavy. Luckily I had some willing volunteers to help me! Here is a picture of this great nest box, ready for installation…..
I had selected a tree on the edge of the field that we are pretty sure the barn owls hunt in. It was an oak, but needing some trimming to remove all the lower branches, providing a very clear sight of the box and a clear flight path in. Once the branches had been removed, the issue of actually mounting the box became the next challenge. It comes with two large battons. These can be mounted to the tree and then the box screwed into these. The shape and width of the tree trunk made this difficult. Instead, we cut one of the battons down and screwed this onto the tree as a ‘ledge’. We were then able to rest the box on the ledge and then screw a number of stainless steel coach bolts through the back of the box, into the tree to hold it in place.
Three hours later…. it was up! I am so excited about this project.
Thanks to Doug, Don and Martin for all your help today……your efforts are much appreciated.