It’s been interesting to check on the barn owls as the summer begins to wind down. I have four owl boxes on the hill and around the farmyard, and I’ve been giving them all a wide berth since the spring to avoid disturbing any of the occupants. But despite plenty of evidence that owls have been roosting in the boxes and in the old sheds, there has been no sign of successful breeding in any of them. This comes after owls spurned two of my boxes in preference to natural tree cavities in 2018, and perhaps it’s time to reconsider the siting and location of one box which has done nothing more than attract feral pigeons since it was installed in 2016. All this “monitoring” is done under a special licence from SNH, and now I’ll have to write up my findings and submit them to official scrutiny.
For all I drew a blank this year, it’s always fun to gather moulted feathers and add them to the growing pile of cast-offs which litters my office. Every feather is a jewel, and it’s a pleasure to handle the quills and imagine the life they had, floating through the half-dark.