Sunday, 8 February 2009

Ringed Barn Owl

As per LBN post 10618, recovered a ringed Barn Owl off the A1 near Beltonford on 7 February 2009, metal ring GF81584 (photo above). Subsequently heard from Bob Swann of the Highland Ringing Group that this bird was an adult female which had been ringed in Glen Urquart, near Drumnadrochit by Loch Ness, in July 2007. Amazingly, other recoveries from the same nest included:

* a juvenile ringed in 2003 found at Glencarse, Tayside, just 2 weeks after the Beltonford bird - both perhaps displaced from further N by hard weather?
* a juvenile ringed the same day as the Beltonford female, recorded at St Ishmaels in Wales in the December of that year (at 624km, a considerable distance from natal site)
* a juvenile ringed in July 2008 recorded in October that year further north at Berriedale in Sutherland.

Of interest, the last 2 were involved in road collisions, but were still alive, confirming they'd travelled there naturally (as opposed to fallen off a lorry).

Full details in linked doc. Overall, an amazing set of records!

Sadly, this was the 74th Barn Owl casualty we've recorded in Lothian since I commenced a local study in October 2004 (5 more since to July). More positively, lessons are also being learnt from post mortem analyses of these birds. The Beltonford female was the 30th casualty examined for the study c/o vet Jason Waine in Redditch (now 33). The results showed her to be in good condition (4/5 body score), with a reasonable weight of 299g, and containing "well-digested remains of 2 shrews and a field mouse, intestines well filled". So apparently faring very well off our trunk road verge even in quite hard weather in February, and perhaps having travelled a fair distance to get here following onset of hard weather earlier in the winter?

In the picture below the spotting typical of an adult female is apparent on the underparts; bottom image shows her together with a juvenile female collected off the A1 a few days later.