Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 3°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Dedham Vale/Stour Valley; Beauty spot enjoys record barn owl chick numbers

06:00 20 July 2014

Neil Catchpole, countryside office with the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project, with one of a clutch of three barn owl chicks ringed at the RSPB reserve at Cattawade photos in late June this year.

Neil Catchpole, countryside office with the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project, with one of a clutch of three barn owl chicks ringed at the RSPB reserve at Cattawade photos in late June this year.

Archant

Barn owls have been breeding in record numbers in the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley following a disastrous year for them last year, according to a conservationist.

shares
Neil Catchpole, countryside office with the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project, ringing a barn owl chickNeil Catchpole, countryside office with the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project, ringing a barn owl chick

Neil Catchpole, countryside officer for the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Stour Valley Project, says he has ringed 54 barn owl chicks so far this year and he has more barn owl boxes still to visit on land including farms across the area. In one case, he ringed a clutch of six chicks. Normally, two or three chicks are produced by one barn owl pair.

“This year we are getting clutches of fives which are quite common. In Nayland, I did ring a clutch of six which is remarkable. I have never ringed that many,” he said.

“They hatch in sequence. In an average year you can get two or three in a clutch.”

It follows the virtual collapse of the breeding season last year in the area after the harsh winter hit populations of its food source of voles, mice and shrews.

The barn owl project was started in the Dedham Vale by farmer David Wilkin, of Clacton, and Neil Catchpole’s predecessor, Peter Ennis, about seven or eight years ago.

“This year is a record year for barn owl nesting numbers. The results aren’t all in yet, but it looks pretty good from the point of view of East Anglia,” said Neil.

“In my particular project area, two years ago in the summer of 2012, we had a remarkably good year. I have got over 100 boxes within my prepared area and I’m a ringer as well and we had 44. It was a good year.”

But last year the breeding season was a failure, he said, after the bad winter and a difficult start to the spring took its toll.

“I knew of four clutches but I didn’t manage to ring any barn owls and across East Anglia it was very poor - at least a third down.”

He put the birds’ breeding success this year down to a mild winter.

“The barn owl’s survival depends on the population of small mammals almost exclusively,” he said.

“A pair of barn owls in the course of 12 months raise a brood of young, say of an average of two or three, consumes 10,000 small mammals.”

As a result of the ready food source, they were laying eggs from mid-March rather than from the more customary time of the first week of April, he said.

Barn owls are protected under the Countryside and Wildlife Act, which means that trained nest monitors and licensed ringers such as Neil require a Schedule One Disturbance Licence even to look inside a nest box.

shares

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other East Anglian Daily Times visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by East Anglian Daily Times staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique East Anglian Daily Times account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Home Secretary Theresa May is launching Conservative candidate for Colchester Will Quince's campaign.

The Home Secretary visited Colchester today to launch the Conservative candidate’s manifesto.

Hen harrier chicks at a nest - the species has become a symbol of UK bird of prey protection efforts.

A top naturalist and TV presenter really got to the art of the matter in his fight against illegal bird and animal persecution - and used a Constable masterpiece to make his point

Sudbury Town Centre. North Street.

Police are treating the sudden death of a man in Sudbury as unexplained.

Thomas the Tank was a favourite of Callum Maclean

It’s been a tad nostalgic in the office this week, writes Kate Dodd. A flippant mention of favourite TV as a child, and the chat turned all misty-eyed and heart felt.

Emergency services at the scene at the multi-storey car park in Bury on November 28.

A 64-year-old woman who died after falling from a multi-storey car park in Bury St Edmunds committed suicide, an inquest has heard.

RAF Mildenhall

A new group has been launched to evaluate ideas for future uses of the RAF Mildenhall site before presenting them to the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

The Red Arrows perform manoeuvres at the Clacton Air Show on Friday, 22 August.

Spectators at this year’s Clacton Airshow will once again be able to watch the world famous Red Arrows.

Kevin Bru after being reunited with Gizzer

Ipswich Town supporters came to the rescue of one their favourite players, reuniting them with their beloved dog.

Giles' portrait of Alf Garnett

An unusual work by Suffolk art icon Carl Giles is to be auctioned in the county.

Traffic. Library image.

A broken down lorry caused slight delays for westbound traffic on the A14 this evening.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages