Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 7°C

min temp: 5°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

Archant

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 owl-help.org.uk or call 0845 6807897.

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

Ipswich train station

The train lines from London to Ipswich have now reopened after a man was hit and killed by a train between Colchester and Manningtree earlier today.

Showers have tested positive for Legionella bacteria at Walton-on-the-Naze lifestyles

Bosses have decided to shut an Essex leisure centre over fears a customer contracted a serious lung infection after using the showers.

Fares on Greater Anglia trains will go up less steeply than the national average.

Rail fares on East Anglia’s lines are set to rise by just under 2% in January.

Mark Savin, 39, from Bury St Edmunds

Tributes have continued to pour in for 39-year-old Bury St Edmunds architect Mark Savin after his sudden death on Sunday.

Kameron May infographic. Pic: Suffolk Constabulary

Parents and victims of a jailed Suffolk paedophile have told of the devastating emotional damage his “abhorrent” crimes inflicted on them.

Frosty Morning at Woodbridge Tide Mill. Photo by Peter Cutts

Through our iwitness24 site, readers are able to share their photos of Suffolk’s top beauty spots, of landmarks and of some of our amazing wildlife in action.

Festive Taste Testing.

Our judging panel put Christmas food from the supermarkets to the test.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View
HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24