While we were filming inside one of the cowhouses near Keld last week, we sadly found a dead barn owl. It had died some time ago but we checked it over and found that it had a British Trust for Ornithology leg ring so we asked our Wildlife team to send it off for us.
Barn owls aren’t a common sight up in the Dales and it seems that numbers in Britain declined through the 20th century but are now recovering. They’ve had a particularly good breeding season in the Dales this year. Oddly enough we saw one flying alongside the road near Ribblehead the following day when returning from a trip up to Swaledale.
The BTO report came back really quickly and we discovered that the bird was male and had been ringed in the nest in August 2014 about 14km away in Cumbria. The floor of the cowhouse we found it in was thick with owl pellets so we assume that it’s been used as a roost/nesting place for generations of these wonderful creatures. Some barns were built with small ‘owl holes’ high up on the gable ends as these birds were a welcome visitor helping to keep rodent numbers down.