Guests checking in at a holiday cottage near Bridgnorth are not the only new arrivals this summer.
A nest box at a National Trust holiday cottage on the Dudmaston Estate, is now home to two young barn owls, just a year after it was installed.
Volunteers from the Shropshire Barn Owl Group said they were encouraged to see the box had attracted a pair of breeding owls in its first season.
Barns owls have been nesting in this area for years, says Peter Carty, Countryside Manager for the National Trust.
When the derelict barn was repurposed and renovated into holiday accommodation two years ago, plans were put in place to provide the owls with somewhere to raise their young.
John and Wendy Lightfoot, local owl specialists and members of the Shropshire Barn Owl group, have been visiting the young owls to record their progress.
John said: “After weighing and measuring the owls, I’m pleased to say they’re both happy and healthy. I checked the feathers underneath each of their wings to determine their sex – black flecks in their white feathers identified them both as female. Males have white feathers without any other markings. I’d say it won’t be many weeks before this pair fledge and explore the big wide world beyond the nest box.”
Assistant National Trust Ranger Sophie Bloor met John and other members from the group to get a closer look at the birds.
She said: “It was an absolute privilege to see these amazing creatures up close. John handled both owls with such precision and care. At 50 days old, the chicks were big enough to be ringed. Each ringcontains a unique number which means the owls can be identified when they’ve flown the nest. And so, despite all their baby fluff, the chicks are quickly growing up and out of the nest box. Fingers crossed for some more new arrivals next spring.”