Raptor Facts and Figures
The breeding season is starting to slow down and show the first signs of it coming to an inevitable close. Kestrel fieldwork has been completed for the year, with close to 35% of monitored nests having failed or experienced predation. This is quite a bad success rate for Kestrels, who normally perform a lot better. No doubt the abysmal weather we have all suffered through will have played a central role in this. Barn Owls are known nationally to be the rarest of our three study species and are Red-listed in Ireland. In West Offaly this scarcity is replicated. There are roughly twice the number of Kestrels as Barn Owls and three times more Long-eared Owls.
The situation with Long-eared Owls in the country is less clear owing to less work carried out on the species nationally. In my home patch, of West Offaly, many of the traditional nest sites haven’t shown signs of breeding, ie calling chicks, however the overall numbers of breeding Long-eared Owl sites which we now know about has increased. This however is probable down to the increased efforts put into their monitoring this season. Mid August will see the completion of my final acoustic survey for calling Long-eared Owl chicks. On this date, a more comprehensive picture will emerge, but even at this point I can say that Long-eared Owls are the most common raptor species within my intensive study area in West Offaly.
|Long-eared Owl - pictured by John Lusby|
And on a completely unrelated note.....
Rowan trees grow the length of my garden, a linear orchard of seasonal berries for the avian community. But I had a thought, could predators and in this case a Sparrowhawk learn to associate an obvious prey food source like this with prey? Although hawks are numbered among the more intelligent of birds, this is possibly too great a mental leap. What I do know is my local Sparrowhawk is enjoying the frugivore birds in my garden. Bullfinches, Blackbirds and Starlings seem to be the favourites. A new selling point for the humble Rowan tree, ‘buy a Rowan attract a Sparrowhawk’....I’m sold.