24 Jan 2017

Bad Day for Field Voles

Bruce Langridge

The good news is that our barn owl has just been spotted again on our Waun Las National Nature Reserve.

The bad news, from the perspective of a vole, is that the barn owl is alive, well and hungry.

Last week, Keith Crowden, one of the Garden’s wildlife volunteers came face to face with the barn owl. He opened a barn door and there it was looking at him, just a few feet away. When the night hunting owl flew off, Keith picked up one of the many pellets that littered the floor and took it home.

Barn owls cannot digest fur or bone so when Keith and his wife Jan dissected the pellet they found lots of bone fragments. It took a while but like a good forensic scientist, they sorted the bones and realised that the 5 skulls, various jawbones, femurs and legs all belonged to field voles.

A good night’s nosh for a barn owl.

The organically-managed pastures and meadows of Waun Las provide a great habitat for small mammals. These provide a well-stocked larder for barn owls and other common hunting birds, such as buzzard, red kite, sparrowhawk and our recent new arrival, the kestrel.

If you are walking the ‘blue’ Keep Fit walk, you’ve a good chance of seeing one of these aerial beauties.