Rain

Rain

max temp: 9°C

min temp: 5°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Suffolk: Hopes that barn owls are staging ‘partial recovery’

10:58 13 June 2014

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Copyright Steve Plume 2013

Wildlife experts are hopeful that Suffolk’s barn owls will stage a partial recovery after their numbers were decimated by last year’s freezing weather.

shares

Frozen ground and biting winds during the winter of 2013 caused barn owl mortality in the region to jump by about 300%, with the British Trust for Ornithology, reporting that 19 ringed birds were being reported dead each day.

However, mild conditions have led to a population surge of short-tailed voles – the owls’ preferred prey – giving the birds a greater chance of successfully breeding.

Steve Piotrowski, of Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project and ornithological advisor for Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: “Early signs this year are showing that we are getting a partial recovery. Although there is low occupancy in nest boxes due to last year’s high mortality those that are breeding are doing well.

“If that continues, and we don’t get a period of inclement weather that lasts three or four weeks, there should be a partial recovery and hopefully that will go on next year to a full recovery.”

Mr Piotrowski said terrible weather between March and May 2013 had led to “an amazingly bad” breeding season.

He added: “Basically owls have to reach 340gms before they are in good enough condition to breed. If they don’t reach that figure they just breed.”

The population slump followed a record high in Suffolk barn owl numbers in 2012, when 420 breeding pairs were reported. The first owl survey ever carried out in 1932 saw a population of about 350 birds.

The success of barn owls in the region over recent years is due largely to the Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project – a partnership project between Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Suffolk Ornithologists Group.

The initiative has seen hundred of nesting boxes installed across the county to replace lost habitat such as dead or hollow trees and modern barn construction.

The county had come perilously close to losing its barn owls – in 2005 numbers dipped to between 50 and 80 breeding pairs.

Mr Piotrowski said the weather now posed the biggest challenge for Suffolk’s barn owls, although there are still some farming-related issues.

He added: “The other thing that’s causing a little bit of concern is the rodenticide, there’s a worry there could be some secondary poisoning.

“Most of the owls in Suffolk are in the wider countryside feeding on short tailed voles, but the Barn Owl Trust are saying it’s having a real impact elsewhere.”

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

Paul Heiney filming for Secret Rivers in his Candaian-style canoe that has been stolen

Broadcaster Paul Heiney has made an appeal for thieves who stole one of his favourite boats from a Suffolk harbour to have a conscience and return it.

Woman arrested over Leiston stabbings

A 27-year-old woman has been arrested in connection with the stabbing of two men in Leiston yesterday.

Trudi Nicholls of Fork Rent

With almost 30 years’ business experience in Suffolk, Trudi Nicholls comes across as a strong, confident businesswoman.

Stage 5 of the Womens Tour passes through Onehouse on their way to Bury St Edmunds last year

Schoolchildren will also be involved in an evening of activities in Bury St Edmunds ahead of the start of a major women’s cycling event.

Konrad Kantorowski flips from the wheel while coach John Colles looks on.

Heading down to the Kesgrave Sports Hall on a weeknight, you would probably be forgiven for expecting to find clubs practising regular sports. But sharing hall space with the local badminton team on a Thursday evening is a rather more unexpected gathering.

Photo issued by the National Crime Agency of fugitive Paul Monk, who featured on the UK's most wanted list on suspicion of drug trafficking, who has been captured in Alicante.

A fugitive on the UK’s most wanted list allegedly linked to a Colchester drugs haul has been arrested in Spain.

Stabbing in Farrow Close Leiston

Police are still piecing together two incidents in Leiston last night in which a 16-year-old boy and a man were both stabbed.

Abbie Hunter

As the sun blazes down to raise temperatures to the mid 20s, I am thinking about sport., says Abbie Hunter.

Cavendish.

“True democracy” is coming to a west Suffolk parish after 42 years, with villagers set to decide the Cavendish ward’s first ever contested St Edmundsbury Borough election.

Police are searching for Jai Stead

Police are searching for a man wanted on suspicion of robbery and failing to appear in court.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages