Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Owl Pellets

Sorry for the poor photo quality, but these are just some of the Red Kites I saw on my way home from Tracy's recently. There must have been a good 50 birds, but I couldn't get them all in the same photo. Double-click to enlarge.

I was away near Ross-on-Wye over the weekend, and was taken to the Forest of Dean to walk around a sculpture trail. Of course, I was taking photos of wildlife too, though I did restrain myself from taking a photo of half a dozen dung beetles at work, mainly because they were at work on a pile of dog poo and it didn't make a very pretty picture . . .

Anyway, as we walked round I happened to notice an owl pellet lying broken on the ground. Either dropped from a great height or someone had stepped on it, and it was full of the wing cases of beetles (mostly black dung beetles I suspect). My friend Judy's bird book mentioned that Little Owls would kill a mole, but instead of eating it would leave it to attract the beetles which it loves to eat. So this pellet suggests to me it may have come from a Little Owl, even though open countryside rather than woodland is its natural habitat. This was the very edge of the woodland though, and it was very open here.

A Little Owl's favourite snack, one of the dung beetles in the forest.

Owl pellet consisting mostly of beetle wing covers.

Here at home in our part of Carmarthenshire, we have mostly Tawny Owls. They will sit in the trees behind and to the side of the house in late summer/early autumn, and hoot to one another for hours. Someone suggested they were teaching the youngsters to hunt, but this goes on for several months, so they would be having LOTS of broods.

Bluebells in a forest clearing.

One of the Mountain Ash (or Rowan) trees in full bloom.

Talking of moles, here's a very dead one that Honey caught earlier. Poor little chap.


  1. We have Great Horned Owls - very large and impressive - even the young are quite large. I have also seen a Long-eared Owl - looks like you would expect. Liked your post very much.

  2. I'm glad Honey didn't attempt to consume the mole--you know what the immediate reaction would be--barfed mole! The rowan tree of Great Britain [proof against evil spirits?] doesn't appear to be the ash tree of New England--the photo is familiar, however--I think that is a tree that was used rather as an ornamental in my [former] part of the world. Pastures that were going out of use for grazing were frequently invaded by what we called "prickly ash"--a low-growing, dense shrub with formidable thorns and red berries in the fall.