Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 11°C

min temp: 10°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Stonham Aspal: Tawny owl chick numbers soar

14:15 17 May 2014

Roger Buxton in Stonham Aspal

Roger Buxton in Stonham Aspal


This time last year, wildlife conservationist Roger Buxton was lamenting a scarcity of nesting tawny owl chicks in the Suffolk countryside.

But a mild winter seems to have effected a dramatic turn in fortune for the local woodland population.

In the spring of 2013, Mr Buxton, a wildlife artist who has been ringing and recording owls for the last 15 years, found not a single chick in any of his Thornham Owl Project’s 44 nesting boxes between the Waveney Valley and the River Gipping.

This year, however, has eclipsed all expectations, with an incredible 27 fledglings occupying 11 boxes inhabited since nesting season began.

Mr Buxton, from Stonham Aspal, said: “This is the best year I can remember.

“It proves how the weather can affect owl population. Last year, from all the owl boxes we checked, we found just two adults.”

Mr Buxton raises money for materials to build nesting boxes for owls, which are erected in woodland by permission of willing landowners. Birds are then ringed and monitored by the project, now based at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, in Stonham Aspal.

Last year’s disappointing find led experts to think that depleted numbers of small prey may have be to blame.

Although the artificial nests are able to withstand poor weather, the decline in numbers may have been due to lack of food.

The tawny typically nests in woodland, feeding on voles and shrews. Like many species, it appeared to have suffered the effects of a cruel winter and cold spring.

Winter of 2007 was particularly mild, and led to 17 nesting tawny chicks being found in just 10 inhabited boxes.

Numbers remained fairly steady over the next few years, with 16 chicks ringed in 2009 and 17 ringed in 2010 and 2011. A slight dip in numbers was recorded the following year, when 14 chicks were found in seven occupied boxes, but last year’s decline - and this year’s boon - have been unprecedented in the area.

To find out more about the wild owl nesting project, offer suitable woodland habitat or make a contribution to building and maintaining boxes, visit or call 0845 6807897.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

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

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

The A120

New figures have revealed journey times on the A120 double during rush hour – leading one campaigner to dub it “no more than a country lane”.

Fish rescued by the Gipping Angling Preservation Society

A former angling club secretary appeared in court yesterday charged with dishonestly abusing his position to make personal financial gains of more than £10,000.

Local charities gathered together at Greshams in
 Ipswich  for the launch of the Rotary Orwell Walk
 2017 .

One of the most popular and successful fundraising events in Suffolk has been officially launched.

Network Rail will look at the pedestrian crossings in a bid to speed services.

Rail improvements with the start of the new franchise must not be confined to the main line to London, delegates at Suffolk’s rail conference heard yesterday.

Work has begun in the new Felixstowe Fire and Police Station.
L-R Mark Hardingham,Cllr Matthew Hicks,Mayor Jan Garfield,Gareth Wilson and Tim Passmore.

Work has started on the latest joint police and fire service base in Suffolk following a “ground breaking” ceremony yesterday.

Frankel welcomes guests to Newmarket National Heritage Centre

Her Majesty The Queen is to officially open the new £15million National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in the Suffolk town of Newmarket, where many of her own horses are trained and stabled.

A driver has reported they may have seen missing airman Corrie McKeague walking towards Honington in the early hours of September 24

A driver who may have seen missing airman Corrie McKeague has come forward to police.

Most read

Great Days Out


Click here to view
the Great Days Out


Most commented


Show Job Lists


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24