Summer Days

Unfortunately our Lemon brahma hen (it wasn’t a gold one, as we thought) died in early spring. There was no obvious cause of death, so we assumed she succumbed to old age. Rather than replace her with another adult we decided to buy a chick. But at a few weeks of age it is very difficult to sex a chick; so we bought 5 in the hope that we have bought more hens than cockerels. The cockerels apparently do not crow very often but when they do it is loud, so we will be selling the cockerels on. However, at 10 weeks we are none the wiser as to which are hens, below the Lemon brahmas are pictured in their run. 

chicks

Our other Brahmas dark (black), white and dark Columbian started to lay eggs in the spring, they are tinted and of a good size, with the occasional double yoke.

The swallows returned in March, having wintered in southern Africa, their return trip was nearly 10,000 miles. We were lucky to have two pairs of birds nesting in the sheep shelter in April, and each raised a brood which fledged in late May. Having seen the departure of their offspring the adults returned to the sheep shelter a couple of days ago for their second brood.

A pair of barn owls took up residence in March in the new owl box bolted to an oak tree in the orchard. We were hopeful that they were going to breed. There was a lot of activity through April and all the indications were that they were sitting on eggs. Indeed our Hay Loft guests stayed in every evening to watch the owls from their bedroom window, which affords a great view of the box. Since mid-May we have only seen the owls intermittently and we thought that they had abandoned the box as we didn’t see or hear any activity. However, yesterday evening the guests of Orchard cottage saw one of the owls fly across the field to the orchard box. Later that evening, while in the orchard they heard sounds emanating from the box which sounded very much like owlets. And tonight we heard tell-tell screeching sounds of the owlets, and shortly after an adult owl entered the box. We are hopeful, that owlets will fledge in the coming weeks, we will know for sure in the next few days as the owlets should start appearing at the entrance to the box. We believe the parents are the same pair which raised two owlets in the back field box in October 2014. Last October one of our guests – Peter Bash, who is a keen photographer, took shots of the owls fledging and a number of the prints can be viewed in the cottages and the caravan site shower block, and some are reproduced below. Should you wish to purchase, A4 prints are available at £5.

Barn Owl 1Barn Owl 2Barn Owl 3