Letham Shank Farm - Crops, Machinery, Livestock and Weather

 

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Current temperature: -0.1°C .  Wind Speed: 7.6kts. from the WNW.  Sunrise:08:26   Sunset:15:35.

Timeline 2018
10th August: The eldest chick has left and has not returned to the nest for over two weeks. The two middle chicks are spending most of their time away from the nest and only visiting for a snack from the parents. The youngest is spending a large part of the night in and around the box, but is roosting nearby. The parents still visit regularly with food but I'm sure he should be hunting for himself. The camera has been changed to show the external view and birds can generally be seen after 22:00.
16th July: The three older chicks are spending a large part of the evening and night outside the box. The eldest has made a few short flights between the box and shed beams. The youngest has managed to scrabble out once, but is not fully feathered yet.
8th July: The second oldest chick, after having spent a couple of days eyeing up the hatch, finally scrabbled out this evening. He spent around two hours outside before returning to the box. The parents totally ignored him as they came and went with food!
6th July: I swapped the camera over and currently adjusting the stream for best picture. I was expecting a lot of panic and wing flapping when I removed the camera. Two chicks did not wake up and one called to me for food!
5th July: The young owls have damaged the camera! I have a spare but do not want to disturb them even though changing will take less than a minute. If I can find a good time I may do so. Apologies.
8th June: Now that both parents are hunting, the food supply seems consistent. The 'little one' is being fed carefully by the hen so it is hoped he will make it.
6th June: The first hatched chicks are growing well and now have their eyes open and are taking whole small shrews and voles. The last hatched chick does not seem to be getting his fair share and is not growing very fast.
4th June: I don't think Mr Owl is much of a hunter as he is only bringing a couple of voles/shrews to the nest each day. As soon as food is delivered it is eaten, with the chicks getting little between 06:00 and 20:00. I have started to supplement with a couple of 'day old chicks' but now the male knows he can get food for himself in the box. The hen has ventured out herself on a few occasions, but it is apparent she is uneasy leaving the nest for any period.
29th May: It appears that the fifth egg is probably infertile, as it should have hatched by now.
24th May: After what seemed like a long two days, the fourth chick hatched.
22nd May: The third chick hatched in the early hours, leaving two eggs to go. It is difficult to see but the hen is feeding them regularly, particularly at night.
20th May: The second chick hatched around dawn this morning. The hen is sitting tightly on the eggs and it is difficult to see the chicks. Another egg is pipped. The male is bringing plenty of food and the chicks are being fed. Occaisionally a (hen) chick is placed out near the nest as an aid to feeding the young, so may be seen lying in the box.
19th May: No more hatchings but two eggs are pipped. One has been pipped for over 24 hours which can lead to drying of the membrane and a failed hatch.
18th May: The chick finally broke out of the shell at around 08:00. The hen is sitting very tight on the nest and the first clue was her eating the egg shell.
17th May: The first egg can be seen to be 'pipped' - there is a hole in one end where the chick will start to work it's way out.
5th May: Some time between the 28th to 29th April one egg disappeared! I cannot see anything amiss on video, but assume it must've been broken and eaten.
7th May: It looks like six eggs will be the final clutch, the first chick should hatch around 16th-18th May.
26th April: Egg number six laid just before sunset.
24th April: The fifth egg was laid around noon.
21st April: Fourth egg just around Sunset.
19th April: Third egg laid about 11:00. It is normal for Barn Owls to start incubating eggs immediately as opposed to most other species who complete laying a clutch before incubation commences.
17th April: Second egg laid about 09:00. Hen sitting tight on the nest and only leaving the box in the evening for a short period.
15th April: The female finally laid the first egg this morning at around dawn.
30th March: In spite of the extremely harsh weather this spring, the owls are mating. Also due to the weather there are no eggs yet, when normally incubation would be well under way.
20th March: After roosting in this box all winter, the male managed to lure a female into this box where they have roosted by day ever since. Other boxes were inspected but this is the one of choice.
Further Reading: 'Observations on Breeding Barn Owls'. This is a fairly old study but in my opinion, accurate, which takes a less scientific approach to Barn Owl behaviour.

History
This nest box was made using a design based on the 'Barn Owl Trust' box and placed in the ridge of a 'hay shed' (a steel portal framed building with cladding to the ground on one gable and one side to protect from prevailing weather) in 2012. The Barn Owls were so secretive that it was not until large numbers of casts were found that it was apparent the box was in use. In 2015 a camera was set up to observe the comings and goings outside the box and in 2016 an internal camera was fitted to observe the nest more closely. The light levels are very low even during sunny periods, so it is due to the sophistication of the camera that an image is possible. As we are on 'rural broadband' streaming live images of decent quality to the www is virtually impossible, but we can upload somewhere in the the region of 2.5 fps.

Technical
The internal camera is a fairly inexpensive Golbong POE IP Camera (Power Over Ethernet, Internet Protocol) which delivers HD quality video to a constantly running PC. It has an IR cut filter and (940nm IR - 'invisible')night illumination. External grade Cat5, solid copper (for POE) cable was used as the run is about 80 metres. 'Blue Iris' software monitors this and seven other cameras and records to the hard drive on motion detection. The POE router uploads the video to 'ipcamlive' where it is broadcast with no restriction on user numbers or bandwidth and should cater for all browsers.

Download Nest Box Plan

Comments

Leave a Comment
Rachel
29 May 2018, 20:42
This is a fascinating webcam, thank you for setting it up! No problem with 'internet connection'. But haven't seen the male owl today, so hoping he's ok?
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2000 - 2018