A collection of wildlife photographs

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Barn Owl box

In August 2016 we made a Barn Owl box using the Barn Owl Trust's instructions for building nest boxes: https://www.barnowltrust.org.uk/barn-owl-nestbox/owl-boxes-for-trees/. We installed the box in a tree in late December 2016. 

Barn Owls are often found over grassland margins of arable fields, and other rough grassland. Trees in this habitat are ideal locations for boxes to be installed. Barn Owls have wide wings and an acute sense of hearing to listen out for their prey. They can be seen hovering over rough grassland with their feet outstretched, waiting to swoop down and collect prey.

The box was inspected in August 2017, working closely with a surveyor who holds a Natural England Barn Owl licence. Numerous Barn Owl pellets and feathers were recorded in the nest box. The pellets were whole, not shredded, indicating that this box was a roost site, not a nest site. The feathers indicated a moulting adult rather than a dispersing juvenile.

For four days between 26-30 December 2017, a trail camera was installed to a tree nearby to the roost box. Nesting Barn Owl adults and dependent young are protected from disturbance under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act and therefore this was completed after the August box check which confirmed that Barn Owl were not breeding here in 2017 and several months prior to March to August when the vast majority of Barn Owls lay eggs and rear young, to avoid disrupting any birds in their intended nesting place. Disturbance was minimal with the trail camera installed outside the box for four days only, and we will now leave the box to minimise disturbance to the roosting Barn Owl.

The photos below show the Barn Owl using the front ledge of the box to stretch its wings during daylight hours in the monitoring period. The Barn Owl was also recorded using the ledge to look at the ground beneath during hours of darkness around dusk and dawn, likely for hunting.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Bats 2016/2017

These photos are of bats recorded across Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Essex in 2016 and 2017 on harp trapping surveys, and bat box checks. All bat surveys were completed under suitable Natural England licence. The species recorded on these surveys comprised: 
Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus
Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus
Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii
Brown Long-eared Bat Plecotus auritus
Daubenton's Bat Myotis daubentonii
Natterer's Bat Myotis nattereri
Whiskered Bat Myotis mystacinus
Noctule Nyctalus noctula, and 
Leisler's Bat Nyctalus leisleri

Some bat boxes contained no bats but evidence of bats in the form of bat droppings was found. Blue Tits seem to also like to nest in the Schwegler 2F boxes. The Serotine Eptesicus serotinus was in care and was shown on a bat ecology course.

Nathusius' Pipistrelle
Nathusius' Pipistrelle being ringed as part of research with the Nathusius' Pipistrelle project
Brown Long-eared Bat
Broad wing of Barbastelle
Daubenton's Bat
Natterer's Bat
Noctule in breeding condition showing buccal glands

Leisler's Bat

Leisler's Bat

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Orchids in Cambridgeshire

Now its June, the grasslands are in flower. We have found a variety of orchids and other characteristic species amongst calcareous grasslands in the last few weeks.

Southern Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa
Common Twayblade Neottia ovata

Man Orchid Orchis anthropophora
Man Orchid is listed as endangered on the vascular plant red data list for Great Britain. it grows here adjacent to Woolly Thistle Cirsium eriophorum.

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera
Red Bartsia Odontites vernus
Common Milkwort Polygala vulgaris
Cowslip Primula veris
Hound's-tongue Cynoglossum officinale
 Hound's-tongue is listed as near threatened under the vascular plant red data list for Great Britain. The other plants here are of least concern.

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