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Tawny Dreams with Dave Culley

I am lucky enough to have Tawny Owls both around my patch in Lichfield and also at Yew View. I have put a number of boxes up to try to encourage them to nest within sight of my cameras and. although I have certainly had interest in the boxes and filmed them , I have not yet succeeded in getting them to breed in the spaces I have provided. If they already have a reliable and safe nesting space, then a new spot has to tick all the boxes if they are to move in.

My boxes have been pretty traditional…. square boxes designed for large birds, such as this owl. Jackdaws also love them and I have had Jackdaws breeding in my boxes for the last few years. Last year, the box at Yew View was looking very promising! We had lots of visits from both males and female and  the female even roosted in the box during the day. Sadly, she then decided that the space was not quite what she wanted.

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Seeking advice, I contacted the guru in Tawny Owl nest creation and filming… Dave Culley. Dave has spent an unbelievable number of hours following a pair of tawnies that chose to nest in a brilliant artificial nest site that he created for them. You may have seen his piece on Springwatch last year. If not, they are still available on the website.

His footage from this space is amazing…

Dave advised me on how to improve the existing box I had set up at YewView. I lined it with rotting timbers to make the space a little more ‘snug’ and also to provide her with the opportunity to chip away at the wooden sides with her beak, as she would in a natural hollow. I also filled the box with deep rough chippings  for her to create a hollow on which to nest comfortably.

This week, I visited Dave with a friend who has more skills with a chainsaw than me, Dave Harper (too many Daves!) Dave Harper has helped me turn many of my crazy ideas into reality! We wanted to take a look at Dave Culley’s tawny nest creations, in the hope that we can create one too. I have met so many incredibly generous people since I have  been working in this way in wildlife. So many are very willing to help and share experiences and this is wonderful. Dave has learnt so much from watching his tawnies  and he is willing to share that knowledge to try to help me achieve the same.

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With so much knowledge and footage and after 5 years of filming,  Dave has turned this amazing story into a DVD. This is not his first DVD, as he spent a similar some ten years studying and filming Sparrowhawks nesting … equally incredible footage. These DVDs are available from Dave’s website . Narrated by Chris Packham, who has been blown away by the dedication and footage, these films are a testament to Dave’s skill and dedication. By purchasing these you will be supporting him and his incredible work.

These trailers give you a flavour …



I was able to get lots of ideas and I am determined to find a suitable stump to turn into a more natural nesting space. A massive thank you to Dave for his time and his advice and expertise… one day, may be I can capture this story for myself!

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