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30 Jul 2018

Owl chicks & toadlets

Two barn owl chicks from WWT Arundel nest box found by licensed handler Stuart Card.

Stuart Card, Countryside Warden for Horsham County Council to Arundel Wetland Centre was onsite last Thursday evening to check our owl boxes. Stuart is a bird ringer, licensed to work with schedule 1 birds like barn owls which are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

In our older owl nest box, Stuart found two owl chicks – one 39 days old and the other 40 days old. This is the first time barn owls chicks have been recorded at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre. We put up this owl nest box 5 years ago on an island in our Wetlands Discovery area. We put in a second owl box two years ago, 100 feet away from the first. This second box was for the adults to roost in case the owls bred – growing chicks tend to crowd the adults out of the nest box.

We are grateful Stuart was able to volunteer his time to help us confirm the barn owls had chicks as he’s very busy in owl breeding season.

The heavy rains last Sunday released a tide of toadlets from our ponds. WWT staff rescued over 500 in the parking lot and moved them to safety.  Toadlets usually leave the pond where they hatched in June, picking a damp day to move, but two rain-less months postponed the migration for many.

Staff moved 500 toadlets to safety from the car park during Sundays rains.

The rain also brought moles out onto the surface on Sunday in search of fresh worms pushed up by the rains. The moles have likely found it hard to dig in the hard, dry earth and they’ll have been tunnels dug in spring. The rain will help them restock their underground larders.

Last Sunday I spotted a green sandpiper, hunched up in the rain on a shingle island out from the Sand Martin hide. The swallows have fledged from the Lapwing hide and the reed warblers have fledged from the path to the willow arbour from the hide.