When I went to Yew View this week, it was clear from the footage I lifted, that Strix and Aluco, our tawny owls, were ramping things up as there was a lot of activity around the box.
Aluco (the female) was staying in the box most days and this is always a sign that she has chosen the space. She needs to remain in the box to defend it from the stock doves and the squirrels who seem determined to have it as well.
Most of the day, she just snoozes, but this is interspersed with preening and also 'paddling' with her feet, to create a hollow in which she will lay her eggs. These are stills lifted from the video clips.
When I am on site, I can control this camera, which has a zoom function. The camera is fully zoomed out, to show as much of the interior as possible. I tried to set it up, so when I zoom, I will be able to have close up views of the owlets. I cannot move up and down, so the zoom is set quite low. I slowly zoomed in on her in the box. The zoom makes a very quiet click. Of course, she can hear it. You can see her react. This noise is a lot quieter than the squirrels, stock doves and others that walk around on the roof and on the platform. You can see she is not overly concerned and I want to get her used to the sound as I will want to be able to zoom in as soon as the eggs start to hatch.
The clarity on this camera is amazing and it will be the first season I have this functionality, so you can imagine how excited I am!
These clips show her paddling inside the box. It is deep lined with rough sawdust, leaves and bits of bark, to mimic the interior of a natural nest hole in a tree.
Her routine involves her returning to the box just as it gets light. She often sits in the entrance, as the sun rises and I lifted this lovely clip. The site was still flooded and the sunrise reflected in the water...
At the end of the day, as the light begins to fade. she comes back out on the platform. She calls for Strix, the male. I think he is roosting in the other owl box at the river end of the site. Due to flooding and water damage, this camera is not running at the moment.
Keep watching this clip. You will see him fly up the garden onto the platform. This is definitely a different male to last year. He is almost white in the face and much paler than last year's male.
It will be up to Strix to feed the female whilst she is incubating, as well as supplying food when the owlets are tiny and the female remains with them. Once they are big enough to leave, the female will also hunt. He bought her a tasty rat meal to the feeding platform, which I knew was a very good sign....
I have a camera facing the entrance. This has a microphone.... here is the same clip, from a different viewpoint..
As I was sitting at my desk today, I could watch her in the box, as I can pull a low resolution link from Yew View, into my PC. Instead of sitting in the box, she was laying down. I kept returning to look. Suddenly, she stood up and I could see an egg! This is always SO exciting! Now, we will have to wait to see how many she lays. Usually 2 or 3 over the next week.
I was able to lift a few low resolution stills from my phone app.....
I love the thought that this egg represents to promise of a new tawny for 2021.....