REPORT ON 2018
After such a bumper year for our sites in 2017 together with the snowy winter/spring in 2018 we were doubtful as to how our breeding numbers would be. Some of our sites were not successful but to compensate we did have sites where the barn owls had bred for the first time. The number of breeding sites and chicks was however down on last year (25 breeding sites). Brood sizes were also smaller, many only having 2 or 3 chicks however we did have 4 sites with 5 chicks. We were hoping one site may have a 2nd brood but this proved to be unsuccessful and being so late in the season any chicks would probably not have survived as winter was fast approaching. We ringed 81 barn owl chicks in 2018 which is well down on 2017 (117) but is more than we thought we would have after the bad snow and wet weather earlier in the year.
We are fund raising this year to make a larger aviary where we can treat injured/starving owls (or other birds of prey). We had about 4 casualties in 2018; one Tawny owl chick which was successfully released, 1 Red Kite and 1 Barn Owl which were unfortunately too ill to survive and another Barn Owl chick which was brought to us as it had fallen out of its nest and damaged its eye. This chick is doing really well but will not be able to be released as the damaged eye means it cannot hunt for food itself so will have to be hand reared. We are hoping for a successful year in 2019 however the wet winter and the changeable/unpredictable weather recently has not been helpful. Fingers crossed
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"!!