Tawny Owls

A few days ago, I was told that a pair of tawny owls living close to the centre of Wakefield have young in the nest. The owls are using a nestbox in a large garden. The box has been there for about seven years but the owls have not managed to produce young before this year. If you look closely to the right of the birds head in the following clip, you will see the movement of a chick.

Early this week there were two chicks but a third egg has now hatched. The male is obviously bringing sufficient food to the female as a number of items of food can be seen whenever the female adjusts her position in the box. In the following picture, the eye of a small mammal can be seen at the bottom left.

Tawny owl nest in Wakefield

Female tawny owl and stored food

The owls eat small mammals and the following picture shows that, amongst other things, they prey on rats.

 

Pellet produced by Wakefield tawny owls.

Pellet produced by Wakefield tawny owls.

Other recent pellets have contained lots of bird remains.

Elsewhere, tawny owl chicks have been leaving the nest in recent weeks, so these Wakefield tawny owls are quite late with their breeding. I was a bit surprised, therefore, to find another nest, containing two young, yesterday in Ackworth. I was alerted by the alarm calls of blackbirds coming from a clump of trees and, on searching carefully, I located an adult tawny owl. Later in the day, I heard more alarm calls and I noticed a section of intestine hanging from the front of a kestrel nestbox that was put in place a few years ago. A rise in the ground in the adjacent field allowed me to look straight into the box with binoculars and I saw two young tawny owls looking back at me.

Tawny owl chicks at Ackworth

Tawny owl chicks at Ackworth

The local tawny owls obviously preferred this open-fronted box to the more conventional tawny owl box that I put up nearby.

wildflower walk at Heath Common

A pleasantly mild day as we set off from the car park down towards the Pinfold passing yarrow, lesser trefoil, common cat’s ear, cut leaf crane’s bill and pignut pausing briefly at the Pinfold to admire foxglove, heath groundsel, red and white campion. Continuing down to the pond which was completely encircled by a mass of bright yellow lesser spearwort, the banking was dotted with heath bedstraw amidst tormentil and bird’s foot trefoil, lady’s bedstraw was flowering interspersed by a few poppies.  Lesser stitchwort and field mouse-ear crept through the grass along the tarmac road to the left; we then crossed the road towards a waving sea of harebells, ox-eye daisy, agrimony and wild mignonette.

We were pleased to see a few butterflies, meadow brown and ringlets and of course a particular joy at this time of year are the foals running loose but not straying too far from their mothers.

wildflowers Heath Common

Juvenile Peregrines

The young peregrines are now roaming quite freely and there was a report, two days ago, of a juvenile seen chasing a black-headed gull at Wintersett, This could well have been a Wakefield bird. Although the juveniles are spending increasing lengths of time away from the cathedral it is still possible to see them, with a little patience.

Visitors to Wakefield showing a keen interst in the peregrines.

Visitors to Wakefield showing a keen interst in the peregrines.

A group of Chinese visitors joined me for a while yesterday as I spent an hour or two seeing how many I could locate. It was quiet for a while but 5Z visited the nestbox. I have found, when I have reviewed recorded footage, that 5Z is the one youngster that does this regularly. It usually searches the box for scraps of the food but during yesterday’s visit, it was clear that it had just fed because its crop was bulging and there was blood on one of its feet.

5Z visiting the nestbox.

5Z visiting the nestbox.

3Z also dropped in but it chose to sit high on the spire. It was obviously on the lookout for food because it searched the larder on the north side of the spire and kept gazing up at the female parent expectantly.

3Z sitting high on the spire.

3Z sitting high on the spire.