Tuesday December 11th 2012
We had to catch up lots of birds this morning. Many of this year’s youngsters are presently speeding down the M6 on their way to their new homes. I caught two of them while I did the breeding ground stock check. There has been a very hard frost overnight. All the glutinous mud in the breeding ground is rock hard at present. Unfortunately this has been too much for our old male Indian Eagle Owl. He is around 40 years old. I picked him up first thing this morning. He is in the wildlife hospital as we speak. He was still breeding up until 2010. He is one of those ‘characters’ that you get over time. We’ll see if he picks up.
We managed to finish cleaning the Breeding Ground nest boxes last Friday. This is something we do every year around this time. This is one of the only ways to control ‘Flat flies’; Hippoboscids. These are parasites that specialise in sucking the blood of birds, and are designed to be able to scuttle through s bird’s feathers. At the end of summer they tend to die off when the weather gets colder. The adults lay eggs singly in dirty nest lining, where it is nicely protected from frosts. The eggs then hatch out, and the larvae are non parasitic, eating the dirty nest lining, until they pupate and transform into the next generation of adults in late spring of the following year. By cleaning the nest boxes at this time of year, we can then get rid of a lot of flat fly larvae before they become next year’s adults. We can then keep the flatly population down to a manageable level. Flat flies can cause anaemia in certain species such as Snowy Owls and Chaco Owls. This can cause owlet mortality; always to be avoided if we can. There was one particular Barn Owl box which provided rich pickings for our resident Robins!
See you next week
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