Waveney Owl Project Update

SOS General Manager Andy Hulme hands a donation to
Roger Buxton of the Thornham Owl Project

As reported in our blog earlier this year, SOS made a donation towards the purchase of nest boxes for erection throughout the Waveney Valley and Gipping Valley schemes organised by the Thornham Owl Project volunteer group.

Here one of their guiding lights, Roger Buxton, brings us up to date on progress:

“Box checking continued throughout June, with an additional two pairs of Tawny Owls fledging four chicks being found in Barn Owl boxes, making a total of fifteen Tawny chicks fledged from nine nest box sites.

There’s good news on the usage of Little Owl, in that two pairs have raised four chicks using the boxes we provided. There does appear to be a reluctance for Little Owls to use artificial nest sites, but this could be attributed to the availability of more natural nest sites in the area for this species of owl.

One of the Little Owls about to be put back into the nest after ringing

The checking of Barn Owl boxes continued into July. Eleven chicks and five adult birds have been ringed so far and there are a further nine sites which have eggs or very young chicks in them, which we will continue to monitor these. As in 2007, there are two pairs of owls nesting in boxes in the Gipping Valley, with the other boxes showing signs of being used as roosts.

The bulk of our success seems to continue in the Waveney Valley, where two of the chicks we ringed last year are now breeding adult birds. However the breeding activity of Barn Owls here does appear to be very irregular this year, with a number of nest sites being abandoned. We suspect one of the possible reasons for this may be the rather cold and wet weather conditions that prevailed through most of June, which had a detrimental effect on the breeding activity of their main diet, the Vole.

Careful handling is required when ringing young Barn Owl chicks like this one

Kestrel chicks ringed so far this year total twenty from eight nest box sites, with a further four boxes which have eggs or very young chicks in - we will continue to monitor these. Boxes designed primarily for Barn Owls continue to be used successfully by Kestrels.

Stock Doves also continue to use Barn Owl boxes and so far this year eighteen chicks have been ringed.”