Etienne Swarts, who is the Managing Director of Greenlight, has been taking part in the Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project (“SCBOP”) for several years, as an Area Coordinator.
The SCBOP, which has been running since 2005, is dedicated to the conservation of barn owls, and has been involved in erecting over 1,800 barn owl nest boxes throughout Suffolk, and subsequently checking them to monitor local populations.
The initial 2017 results from Etienne’s box checks within the Waveney Valley area are showing that the birds are having a bumper year in terms of the number of chicks and the number of boxes occupied by owls. With high numbers of voles from the mild winter and warm, dry spring, the males have been able to hunt and provide enough food for the brooding females and their newly hatched chicks.
In recent decades, barn owl populations have been declining in Suffolk partly due to the intensification of farming, which has resulted in the loss of suitable foraging habitats (e.g. rough grassland and field margins) and prey availability. Building developments have also caused a decline in the number of suitable nesting sites through barn conversions and tree felling.
However, the SCBOP has noticed a halt in the decline of barn owl populations in recent years. This is believed to be associated with increased foraging habitats available for owls, where farmers have taken part in environmental schemes and left grassy field margins that become suitable for barn owl prey. With an increasing barn owl population, the provision of new nesting sites such as nest boxes is crucial to support the positive recovery of the species.
If you would like to know more about this project you can visit SCBOP by clicking here.
Greenlight has experience in conducting barn owl surveys and in advising on barn owl mitigation measures. Please click here for more information on bird surveys or the ecology services we offer. If you have any queries concerning barn owls or would like to find out how to help this species, please contact us by clicking here.