Tuesday 16th April 2013
This year’s owlets are starting to pop up out of the woodwork. We have seen African Spotted Owlets, Mackinder’s Eagle Owlets, and Brown Wood Owlets. We’ve heard owlets in with the American Barn Owls, Dark-breasted Barn Owls, and White-breasted Barn Owls. I have seen one White-breasted Barn Owl sat on eggs under the Box bush in the Laybourne aviary. This is probably the same female that hatched ‘Fidget’, the youngest of our trio of flying Barn Owls.
The weather has turned milder at last, and the wild flora is now playing ‘catch up’, with everything making up for lost time. Since the weekend, the Yellow ‘touch me not’ Balsam has suddenly sprouted in the aviaries, and early signs point towards a bumper year for this rare Balsam, which should be good news for our resident ‘Netted Carpet Moth’, one of the UK’s rarest insects.
I am constantly looking upwards at present, as I told you last week; we now seem to have a resident wild Red Kite at Muncaster. This is making ‘Meet the Birds’ quite interesting, as we can now point this out to people in the audience, making a visit to Muncaster even more spectacular. However, sometimes it pays to look down. Whilst doing the ‘Heron Happy hour’ last week, I nearly trod on an interesting wildflower on the Cannon Bank. It wasn’t anything I personally had seen before. After a bit of research, it turned out to be a ‘Dog’s Tooth Violet’. It had distinct spotted leaves and backwards facing flower petals. I have included a few pictures of this particular flower I managed to take on my camera.
Getting back to the owls, it is worth noting that they can become very territorial and aggressive at this time of year. None more so than ‘Betty’ the female Mackinder’s Eagle Owl in the top aviary in the Breeding Ground. I mentioned above that we have seen her owlet. Every time I go down there, she launches herself at me, hitting the mesh like an express train! She is being very protective of her baby! Funnily enough, she seems to have worked out when feeding time is, as she appears to set up a ‘truce‘ every time I feed her.
See you next week
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The World Owl Trust is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). The Trust relies on a dedicated membership, visitors, donations and legacies.