Sunday 2 April 2023

Barn Owl Worries...

It is just after 9:30 pm, and I've stepped indoors after an hour's 'naked' noc-migging. Probable Canada Goose at 21:06, and that's it. Anyone with serious intent would still be out there, doing the hard yards for a Patchwork Challenge Coot, Oystercatcher or better. But the temperature is dropping like the proverbial stone, I am old and feeble, and my wine glass is empty. Mind you, I'll be gutted if the night's recording coughs up a Coot at 21:45...

I've not talked much about nocmig lately, have I? I will get around to it eventually, but just want to mention something in passing. I started on March 1st this year, and already I am worried. The reason for my unease is Barn Owl, and here is why...

Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
2021 occurences x 19 34 10 17 21 10 4 10 0 125
nights 0 30 30 27 26 28 30 24 13 5 213
0.633 1.133 0.37 0.654 0.75 0.333 0.167 0.769 0 0.587

2022 occurences 8 19 8 8 1 4 8 16 9 x 81
nights 13 29 30 31 27 29 28 23 16 0 226
occ/night 0.61 0.655 0.267 0.258 0.037 0.138 0.286 0.696 0.563

2023 occurences x 0

nights 0 28


I didn't keep numerical records in 2020, my first year of noc-migging, and didn't begin until mid-April anyway, but Barn Owl was a regular feature from the word go. Last year I noticed Barn Owl occurences tail off after March, but was heartened by a resurgence in September. However, the occurences per night figure for 2022 as a whole was significantly lower than 2021 (0.358 vs 0.587 = 61%) and I made a mental note to keep an eye on the Barn Owl tally for 2023. Well, the number 'zero' is hard to miss. Yep, that's zero occurrences in 28 nights.

Is my concern justified, or are they just a bit late this year? We shall see, but I have a bad feeling...

This afternoon I stepped out the door around 15:30 and headed inland. The Bridport North patch has been neglected of late, but the walk to Mangerton is perfect for a Sunday afternoon, being just about devoid of people. I saw Marsh Tit again, and confirmed that Ravens are nesting, and found a meadow full - and I mean full - of Wild Daffodils, a plant I have never knowingly seen before. I got home about two and a half hours later, thoroughly chilled out. Yep, therapeutic is definitely the word...

Raven's nest. There is a bird on it, but invisible from below, and another on the right, mostly hidden by pylon steelwork.

One bearded beast.

A pair of Tufties still present on the pond at Mangerton. Here's the male.

Wild Daffodils

All those little yellow blips are Wild Daffs.

Two Roe Deer keep a close eye on a passing Fox.

As I abandoned the naked noc-migging just now, I glanced briefly at the mothless moth towel and wondered if there will be anything in the trap tomorrow. A March Moth settled on the towel just on dark, and I wouldn't be surprised if that is the sum total of the night's catch. Clear sky, big moon and plummeting mercury - conditions could be better! Still, last night was good, with one new moth and another which has occurred just once before, in June last year...

Once again I am impressed by the P900's ability to capture a pretty decent shot of a tiny moth. And look at it! Loads of micros are really awesome when magnified a bit.

What a stunner! Brindled Beauty is a new one for me.


  1. Time will tell and the barnies may reappear. On the other hand, you are seeing marsh tits, something that I have seen increasingly over the last few years and which are cropping up on more sighting reports in the region. Maybe they are no longer eaten by owls? Statistics are like that.
    I have to congratulate you on your stunning redshank pictures in the previous blog. They barely get a second look nowadays but I really do need to spend more time on them.

    1. The funny thing about Barn Owl is that I had no idea there were birds local to home until I started noc-mig recording in 2020. I still haven't seen one here, and would otherwise be oblivious to their comings and goings.
      Marsh Tits are declining in Dorset (and many other places) so I'm always chuffed to encounter them. Good to hear they are on the up in your locale.
      And thanks for the compliment re photos. The Redshank was ever so obliging. They always look stunning in breeding plumage, but where I normally see them they don't pose!

  2. Gav, it's been a bit quiet around here lately. Your readership may be getting concerned. And that there's bog all else worth reading.