Living in the southwest of the county, the largely arable triangle of countryside south of Newark (bordered by the A46, A1 & A52) had been largely unexplored territory until I joined Jim and Pete S to check a just few of the hundreds of Barn and Tawny Owl nest boxes that Jim monitors across Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.
Any Barn Owl chicks would not yet be large enough yet to ring, so our focus was the Tawny Owls which start their breeding season much earlier.
The day started pretty well, finding a female brooding two chicks in just the third box we checked. We also found a pair of Barn Owls in one of the boxes we were passing, but since they can abandon their nest if disturbed early in the nesting season, we left them alone.
Unfortunately it was another 4 hours until we found another box occupied by Tawny Owls and with only one chick this proved to be the last of the day.
Both the females were recaptures, one ringed in the same box last year, and the other had also being in the same box in Flintham, but not trapped since 2006!
However not all the other boxes were empty. Among the 21 boxes we visited during the day, we found the white eggs of Stock Doves, the beautiful light blue and brown speckled eggs of the Jackdaw and a few too many kittens of the non-native Grey Squirrel!
Twenty-one boxes is too small a sample to be drawing meaningful conclusions about the season and possible causes, but the cold weather this spring and the wet last summer are both potential candidates. It will be interesting how the national picture looks at the end of the season when meaningful conclusions should be possible.