REPORT ON 2017

2017 has proved to be our most successful year ever with the highest total of active sites since we started recording, with 1 pair producing 7 chicks (a first for our group), and 1 brood of 5 fledging at the end of May with a 2nd brood of 6 fledging in September (11 in total, another first for the group). All this contributing to our highest mean brood size on record 4.7. Also out of 64 sites checked, 30 of them producing chicks - a 46.8% success rate. All in all we ringed 142 barn owl chicks and several adults. 

All our sites now have cameras fitted in the nest boxes making it easier to monitor with the least disturbance.

During the autumn we also repaired one of the upland barns where we have had barn owls nesting. Unfortunately over the years the state of the roof has declined with it giving up completely this year.

Several of the members of the group turned out over a few weeks to undertake a mammoth job, not made any easier by the location and the wet weather, however they persevered with the help of the local farmers and their tractors. The photos give some idea of the task. Let's hope the barn owl returns and also encourages a mate to take up residence with him in the new "des res"!!

prev next
 

REPORT ON 2016

The cold wet Spring in 2016 has meant that our numbers were down. However, this was a national phenomenon and affected Barn Owl breeding numbers across the UK. In comparison with UK numbers ours reflect the average. Many areas saw dramatic declines.

We are now monitoring 61 sites (there are a few locations where we have more than one box at a site). We observed occupancy in 21 of these boxes (some were single bird roosts). There were 12 boxes with eggs laid. Eleven of these boxes produced a total of 30 fledglings. One box contained eggs but they were infertile and failed to hatch. Unfortunately, this was the box we had been recording with multiple cameras and where we captured courtship and mating behaviour - you can view this on our Nest Video page.

We continue to slowly expand our video coverage. However, one of the primary difficulties at any of these isolated sites is battery capacity. In 2017 we are planning to experiment with Solar Panels of various sizes. This way we hope to be able to observe more rarely recorded Barn Owl activity in future.

5 FEBRUARY 2016

Mid-winter is usually a quiet time for us but this year we've had a great surprise. We were nominated as a candidate for a Wales Council for Voluntary Action Third Sector Environmental award.

Here's an excerpt from the official press release:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Winners of WCVA’s 2015 Third Sector Awards Cymru Announced:

The work of community groups giving up their spare time to make life better for people across Wales were recognised on Thursday 4 February at a national awards ceremony hosted by television and radio presenter Jason Mohammad at the Cardiff Hilton hotel.
The annual awards are run by Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), with principle supporter Class Networks, and Public Health Wales joining the ‘team’ by supporting the programme for the evening.
WCVA Chief Executive Ruth Marks said: ‘Every year, the judging panel tells me that the quality of the nominations we receive is excellent, showing clearly the innovation, talent and resilience of the third sector in Wales. Very difficult decisions have to be made.
‘This year, for the first time, we put the award for the most admired organisation to the public vote, and the number of people who participated in the process was encouraging.
The Environmental Award - for organisations that have helped deliver environmental benefits for their communities.

WINNER
• Powys Species Habitat Protection Group works to protect Barn Owls and their breeding sites. At the beginning of 2000, Barn Owl nests in the county had declined by at least 70%. The group has helped restore farm buildings that had been allowed to fall into disrepair, allowing breeding pairs to continue to inhabit the space, and have installed 80 boxes fitted with monitors to inspect with the least disturbance.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

30 AUGUST 2015

We believe we can now give a provisional summary of Barn Owl breeding results in our territory for 2015.

We have identified 26 pairs. Of that number, 19 pairs managed to raise chicks. However, the number of chicks raised to 5 to 6 weeks old has dropped from an average of 4 per nest to around two.

Some pairs have tried a late, or in some cases a second brood, but have abandoned their attempts. Presumably, this is due to the cool and generally wet weather conditions we have seen over the past few months.

UK-wide results are showing a significant decline, too. The estimate is that there are about two-thirds fewer chicks raised this year. A 'crash' in prey population (mostly voles) is cited but weather will have had an impact on hunting success.

In the circumstances we are pleased that we have seen an increase in nesting pairs this year. Our efforts in the remainder of 2015 and early 2016 will be to ensure that we repair and maintain our existing nest sites to provide a springboard for future breeding.

With this in mind we'd love to hear from you if you live in Powys within a radius of 15-20 miles of Carno and have any sightings of Barn Owls.

13 JULY 2015

Owl inspired technology could cut wind farm noise

Scientists from the University of Cambridge develop a new coating for wind turbine blades, imitating the features that let an owl fly so quietly. See Daily Telegraph article here (opens a new window).


15 JUNE 2015

Although we do our best to provide first class accommodation for Barn Owls in our area there are those that prefer more natural surroundings.

Here is a picture of two owlets we found in a tree cavity. It was quite a difficult shot to take so apologies for the less than ideal resolution.

Barn Owls have also been known to nest in haystacks and many a farm worker has been surprised to find a nest deep in a large bale stored in an outbuilding.


14 JUNE 2015

We are now visiting all our boxes and we have started ringing owlets who have reached a suitable size. Here's a picture of the first owlet to be ringed this year.

It looks as though our nesting numbers are holding up and compare well with 2014 but it would appear that brood sizes are lower. This means we are reflecting trends being seen elsewhere in the UK.

One of our team has seen an owl hunting in a field close to Caersws at midday. This is a strong indication that their preferred prey species of voles and mice are in short supply at the moment.

prev next

5 JUNE 2015

Our preliminary results are now in.
Despite the disappointing results being reported by the Barn Owl Conservation Network (predicting a decline in nesting numbers - see below) it appears that Barn Owl breeding pairs in our area are set to maintain the high levels seen last year. 

In 2014 we had 14 nesting pairs, with 6 going on to produce second broods. This year we have confirmed we have at least 12 breeding pairs so far. We are also hopeful of at least another 2 pairs as well - we're keeping a close watch.


2 JUNE 2015

Barn Owls are on Springwatch this year. There's coverage of a Barn Owl nest on BBC 2 Springwatch, starting with episode 5 (Monday 1st June). It features a rather small brood of only 3 owlets which is below average..

This could be reflecting a trend being seen elsewhere in the UK indicating that 2015 may be a difficult year. A recent feature in the Barn Owl Conservation Network http://www.bocn.org/news.asp seems to signal this. Here they are predicting only a third of the breeding pairs will be successful compared to last year. 

We're in the middle of our own survey right now and we'll be reporting results as soon as we have them.


21 MAY 2015

This is a photo taken with one of our nest cameras on 30th April 2015. It appears to be 2 day old chick. This is the first chick to hatch out in one of our camera boxes this year. There should be 6 nestlings by the time you read this. Let's hope this is a good indication of brood size average this year.

Barn owls have been known to lay over 10 eggs in a clutch but 5 or 6  is typical.  Clutch size can be badly affected by harsh winters or wet conditions as this will determine the condition of the female at the start of the breeding cycle. As Barn Owls rarely hunt during wet weather chick survival rates will be affected by rain as well. Of course, all this depends upon the number of voles and other prey within their territory.