Saturday, 9 January 2021


I must admit to things being totally out of control Virus wise in the UK and the vaccination programme  does not appear to be proceeding as planned, so with all that's going on and the threat of fines if you are perceived to be  travelling too great a distance I decided to post  a history of our Barn Owls since the first box was put in place.

We moved into this property in 1999 and after a considerable amount of work, we had  three JCB excavators in at one point clearing the land  which had previously been a smallholding with three enormous brick glasshouses that had been allowed to fall down, so all the brickwork  timber and glass had to be cleared and buried. so we eventually  finished with a good area of land with plenty of room for my Barn Owl Box, something I had always wanted as long as I can remember, as to why I'm not sure but I certainly had got the room.

We had been to visit our best friends, Brian and Sandra  on the Isle of Man to help build a tree house for the youngsters, and with the surplus boarding we built the first box. A farmer friend, Frank delivered a telegraph pole and in 2000 he arrived with his tractor and the box and pole went up with the greatest of ease, what a difference it makes  when a machine does the lifting.

In 2001 the box was  inhabited by a pair of Kestrels that raised three young then early  in 2002 I was talking on the phone to a local farmer friend  from in our kitchen a nd looking out when a white face appeared in the box entrance followed by a Barn Owl jumping out onto the front of the box, I told  George   who was down with us in a matter of minutes , he was quickly followed by a female and they raised five young that year, so much to my delight that's how it all started.

Our early images are all on prints as we only purchased our first digital camera in 2009, this being a Nikon D80 with 10.2 MP and used it with a Nikon 70- 210 lens, which I updated to a Nikon 70- 300mm lens and as we were taking images from our bedroom window  some  70 metres plus away from the box, as, I also moved a little closer taking some images from the back door of my workshop,during the early days  we did not hold a BTO schedule 1  license so we had to be sure of no disturbance to the birds.

My camera set up these days is a  Nikon D850 45.7 MP  with a Nikon 500mm f4 GE F1 ED Vr AFS Lens .

Record of Owlets.

2002.     5

2003.    4

2004.    2

2005.    3

2006.   3

2007.    5


2008.    5 + 2 second clutch.

2009.    5  + 3 second clutch.

2010.      3 + 2 second clutch.

2011.     5 + 2 second clutch.

2012.     3.

2013.     0.

2014.     0.

2015.     0.

2016 . Kestrels.

2017.     3.

12018.    0.

2019.   5.

2020.    0.

total.   58 Owlets.

2009 Still with our first pair of Barn Owls.

This pair remained in residence in the box throughout the year and never went away. This is the first box erected and had been in place since 2002.

Male keeping guard .

One of our young,2009.

Adult female 2009.

Young 2009.

All five young together on front of box.

2nd Clutch September 2009.

Another 3, reported to BTO.

New Box being erected 2009.

A major 
improvement on the previous box with an entrance door on the side for access to the Owlets for ringing and CCTV cameras to keep an eye on egg laying, the experts that suggested the upgrade stated it could take a year for the birds to move in, once completed they moved in the next day ! !! 

Farmer Frank arrived with his tractor to help get the roof in place.

Mitch and Jack fortunately offered to help.

Final bits of painting, once in use you can't go back

2010 The New Box in Use with first Owlets ringed.

Also with being able to ring the birds we got our first Schedule 1 License from the BTO. This ringing being carried out by the Stanford Ringing Group. { Mick} and John Cranfield.

This bird flew a considerable distance and had to be returned to be ringed.

For some reason I only had images of two of the three Owlets.  Then I found the following.

What appears to be a young male on the front of the box with his already tarnished ring, the other two watching on.


2010 second clutch in original box.

2 more or the year but could only be reported . not ringed.

2011, Five more  Owlets , New Box.

Mick again on the scaffold tower getting the young out for ringing.

The five all duly ringed.

2011 adult Male Barn Owl on the front of a very dilapidated box.

Second clutch in old box 2011,another two reported to BTO but not ringed.

2012 A very young Owlet having a look at the big outside.

Two more, still in the back and not so brave.

Me looking extremely proud of the adult Barn Owls, how many people have been able to do this.

Photo taken by Richard Pegler.

The three ringed Owlets.
Courtesy of Richard Pegler.

Male Barn Owl, front of large box.
Courtesy of Richard  Pegler.

Female Barn Owl on the front of the new small box
Courtesy of Richard Pegler.

Second replacement Barn Owl Box after the original box was retired due to falling apart Also fitted with CCTV ..

Inside of original Box after what was left of the roof removed, it was virtually full with pellets.

In 2013 one of the 2012 birds returned, a male and could not attract a female, the same in 2014. Then in 2015 we had empty boxes.

2016 a Pair of Kestrels took over the large box.

And raised three young.

Ae least the box was being used.

They certainly fledged and were out and about much quicker than Owlets.

Then in 2017 a new pair moved in.

They moved into the smaller box , image of the female retuning with a mouse.

Male Barn Owl on the front of the large box, the male tends to leave the female after the eggs have hatched and take up residence in the other box to keep away from the pestering young.

The three young having been ringed.

2019 Male Barn Owl Front of smaller box.

This image not long after the birds first arrived.

Female having a stretch of the legs and showing the eggs.

Female Barn Owl, Large Box.

Male Barn Owl, Large Box,

Poor image taken from CCTV showing young in box.

For the first time ever we had an Owlet fall from the platform, it had been a =n extremely hot day and fortunately the grass was that bit longer under the box so upon checking no damage done and bird duly returned to box.

Ringing of Owlets 2019

Rhys on net duty to stop any escapees and Andy preparing to open the box to see what we had got.

Can see at least one.

All being bagged up ready for ringing.

My group of Happy ringers and five Owlets,
Christine Flint,  Andrew Smith [ chairman of LROS , Rhys Dandy , LROS Committee member.

What a delight yet again, all fledged and departed and are hopefully having a full and breeding life.

Having our Barn Owls has been a labor  of love since day 1, not many people can have had such a close relationship with these beautiful  birds, and as I said earlier in the Year, I feel we are also monitored by the Owls.  We both feel extremely privileged.

I don't think we need any reminder of the 2020 fracas, plenty of owls but no Owlets, lets all hope for a return to normality in 2021 in more ways than just the Barn Owls.

Thank you for your visit, I  hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have in putting the post together, this post has taken more time than I could  have ever imagined but well worth every second.


  1. It's a fascinating and wonderful history, John, and very well illustrated. i am sure you are very proud of all that you have accomplished, as well you should be. I had not realized that Kestrels had also been tenants, and I expect that was very agreeable too. From what we read here it seems that the lockdown you are experiencing over there is really complete. It can only get better! Take good care. Best wishes to you and Veg. David and Miriam.

    1. Hi Both,
      I think this has been my most enjoyable post to put together, it also had me checking back in our Barn Owl file and it came as a real surprise as to the number of Owlets fledged, we are both very proud of what we managed in just putting the first box in place and also extremely privileged that he birds chose our land and boxes, I am sure of the people that comment. you and Miriam live the farthest away from us but are the only people to have visited and seen a Barn Owl in situ. As you say thing can only get better, the Police are going around handing out £ 200.0 fines for the breaking of rules, a lady today was fined for drinking a cup of tea, they classed it as a picnic .
      You both stay safe and well.

  2. Lovely story John with excellent pictures too. I hope to see much more after lockdown. Stay safe.

    1. Hello Mike
      So pleased you enjoyed the post, images taken with a mixture of cameras and lenses, lets hope this lockdown doesn't last over long, but people have been so stupid hence the high numbers.
      You stay safe.

  3. Hello John.
    First of all I wish you and your wife a very happy new year and above all good health. Stay in your paradise to be well protected.
    Thank you for this summary of the owls. The old photos help to better understand how the box fits on the pole! A telegraph pole! Yes what a good idea. Here the workers buried the telephone lines two years ago. They asked if we wanted to keep a post.... I said no but if I had known...!
    I hope you still have lots of owls.
    Have a good day and take care of yourself.

  4. Hello Nathalie.
    Likewise may we wish you both a Happy New Year, we are both staying locked up with our Owls, but it does get very boring, its very cold outside, not the weather for sitting in the hide with lockdown the police are handing out £200.00 fines for not observing the rules.
    You don't have to mount your box on a telegraph pole, they can be tree mounted, just look on the Barn Owl Trust site for tree boxes.
    Still seeing the odd Barn Owl.
    You both stay safe.

  5. What a history, beautiful Barn Owls and owlets. You are so lucky John.

  6. Hi Bob,
    We are so lucky in having the Barn Owls and long may they stay and give us more history and Owlets.
    You stay safe.

  7. hello John
    nice that you have saved everything and can document it so well wow you can be proud of this achievement, your efforts and time that you have invested are worthwhile for all readers who visit your blog, very nice
    Greetings Frank

  8. Hello Frank,
    As long as we have the Barn Owls all details will be documented, this way we keep our schedule 1 license, good to read that people have enjoyed the visits.
    All the best and stay safe,

  9. Hi Jonh... Beautiful document and excellent work...You are very lucky... Congratulations... Have a nice weekend and stay safe...

  10. Hi Ana,
    Thank you but it has been a labor of love, we are so lucky in having these birds so close to home, hope oyur snow has gone away.
    You stay safe,

  11. Hi John,
    tomorrow (read Wednesday January 20) there will be another press conference with us and we will probably also have a curfew and that we will no longer be able to travel away from our hometown. So very strict measures.

    Also very strict with you and therefore some foot's from your archive. I don't mind that at all because they are beautiful photos to see. The barn owls are also beautiful birds and I am glad you made this post :-)

    Stay safe and healthy.
    Greetings, Helma

  12. Hi Helma,
    These really are grim times, in the UK the death rates and new infections both are rising from the Christmas relaxations of people mixing, so many of us are waiting to be vaccinated.
    Its so pleasing to hear that you enjoyed your visit, I'm afraid with the weather as it is at the moment, I really don't want to sit in my hide in the garden, so any posts will have to be old unused images.
    You stay safe and well.


About Me;

Titus White:
Hi I am Richard Peglers friend Titus White, and those who follow Richards posts will understand the name and reason for it. I have been birding with Richard for 3 years and a volunteer at Rutland Water on the Osprey Project for 2 years. My early images were taken on a Nikon D80 with a 70 - 200mm lens. I updated the lens to a 70 - 300mm VR lens but still was not happy with the results. Eventually when Nikon announced the D7100 I decided to change so upgraded the camera and also invested in a Sigma 50 - 500mm lens.
I first met Richard through Arthur Costello as I was having the occasional visit from Little Owls on our land. We eventually found the Little Owls through another contact about 100 metres away. Photo's will follow on future posts.
I have recently upgraded my camera to full frame, this is a challenge I am at the moment enjoying trying to get the best out of the beast.
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