Hi, everyone. It’s late spring (although the weather may make you think otherwise!) and nature is now at its most active with so many hungry mouths to feed! This is the best time of year to see barn owls flying by day. Although normally nocturnal (active by night), with growing chicks to feed they have have to hunt around the clock. Farmland is the best place to see them as they fly low over fields before hovering and descending into the grass to catch their prey which is usually small mammals such as voles. They will then emerge with their catch in their talons before flying back to the nest. I’ve seen one on most days in fields adjacent to the A10 just south of the golf club.
Another owl you might see by day is the little owl. This bird lives up to its name as it is tiny compared to our other British owls. Although crepuscular (active at dusk), they are often seen perched in trees on farmland, particularly at this time of year when they may be guarding a nest. A sign that there may be a little owl in a tree is the sight and sound of smaller birds mobbing it, especially blackbirds. Blackbirds give these owls a really hard time as they see them as a threat and although they will occasionally take small birds their main diet is earthworms and insects. So, if you hear a blackbird squawking away in a tree, it usually means there is something about that it doesn’t like and more often than not that will be a little owl.
Our other fenland owls are the tawny owl with its familiar hoot and the long-eared owl both of which are strictly nocturnal and rarely seen during the day. The short-eared owl is diurnal (active by day) but is only a winter visitor to our part of the world. In Britain they spend the summer breeding in the north of England and Scotland.
Also at this time of year look out for frogs and tadpoles in garden ponds. Although many people associate frogs with water they only come to ponds to breed and spend the rest of the year hopping around parks, gardens and fields. They often keep perfectly still and are well camouflaged so if you or a friend has a pond take a long hard look and you may be pleasantly surprised!
Her is one of ten frogs in a small garden pond in Witchford!
Happy nature hunting