I was out yesterday for a wander when i found a barn. It's high wide wall ledges looked ideal as a Barn owl roost so i checked for signs of them.
Sure enough i found a good pile of Pellets, the regurgitated remains of indigestible prey parts. Passing the Pellet also acts as a scour that cleans the digestive tract. It forms 6 to 10 hours after a meal and those of Barn owls are Black and the largest of our UK native owl pellets.
As you can see, this pellet is huge and larger than usual. This suggests that the female may have gorged after not being brought enough food whilst incubating her eggs. She may have then had chicks on the nest and was able to hunt whilst also being brought food by her mate.
Pellets are a great way of surveying both the variety of rodents in the area and of course, what's on the menu for the Owls.
Usually i'd just break open the pellet and have a basic look for bones.
And maybe isolate and expose a Skull.
But this time i collected two pellets, soaked them in a mix of detergent and water, then set to work with tweezers and a couple of cocktail sticks. The Skulls plus lower jaws and a selection of bones, were rinsed, dried then laid out on a piece of paper.
The contents of 2 Barn Owl Pellets.
That's about two days of meals.
Top: Vole Skulls, Three different species.
2nd row: lower jaw bones then a Birds skull.
3rd row: Common Shrew skulls then a selection of bones from various prey in the Pellet.
The shrews were identified by their very small eye sockets and from the red tipped teeth.
The distinctive teeth of the others were those of voles, but of at least two different types. Closer examination of the grinding teeth would ID which species of vole they were. One of the skulls remains a mystery.
It was nice to see a bird in there too, as a Barn owl diet, mostly consists of Voles, voles and maybe a side of shrew.
Another rodent related part of the day was revealed.
I've had a fair few mice in the place i live in which i don't mind at all and at night i sometimes hear them scurrying about. But more recently the scurrying has been a little heavier sounding. And after seeing the culprit for the drop in mouse population in the area climb my wall and slip under the roof tiles, I went to the loft to investigate.
It was there i found the evidence of this little animals being there. Poo!
And here's a relative of the wee poo monster in all it's wonderfulness.
I've got a stoat here, but i saw this Weasel the other day elsewhere and grabbed a photo.
Tis great round ere.