MNA members John from Biobank and Martin Corcoran headed up onto the fells during our visit to Stocks Reservoir on 4th June 2011. They came across a pile of bird pellets on a rock amongst the moorland vegetation and brought me a prezzie of two pellets in a plastic bag.
The Barn Owl pellet collected from Carsington Water on our February Coach Trip contained bones from Field Voles see post http://naturalistsnotebook.mnapage.info/2011/02/28/owl-pellet/ These two pellets were entirely different.
I measured them – one being 4cm long the other slightly larger at 5cm.
After soaking in water in a petri dish I teased apart the two pellets. Here’s a photo of what they contained:-
Top left shows vegetation – moss, a couple of grass seeds and pieces of stem.
Bottom left shows three small stones and a snail.
Middle show the bones that were visible on the outside of the top pellet with a random assortment of non-identifiable small bones probably tarsus with the odd claw from the bottom pellet.
Top Right shows mostly abdominal and sternite plates from black beetles.
Middle Right shows leg parts, heads and elytra – the wing cases from black beetles.
Bottom right shows elytra and leg parts from brown beetles.
Here’s the beetle bits and pieces in greater detail. Could the piece of orange and black patterned elytra have come from a Sexton Beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides ? I saw one during our visit.
Little Owl pellets often contain a large number of beetles but these pellets were too large for that species.