The Thornham Owl Project

As a Charity of whose charter the creation of new, permanent habitat of wild owls and other birds of prey forms an important part, S.O.S. is always interested to learn about the activities of others who have similar goals.

So we're pleased to draw to your attention the work of a neighbouring group - The Thornham Owl Project - who are celebrating an important milestone in the quest to ensure that Barn Owls in particular are given every opportunity to survive & prosper in the face of man's encroachment on the landscape.

The Thornham Owl Project last week erected its 150
th Bird of Prey nest box - no mean achievement for a group of experienced volunteers who have given of their time (and money) over the last 10 years to provided safe harbour for raptors in East Anglia!

Initially the boxes were put up by Roger Buxton, who started the project in 1997, and Mark Chester - both talented local artists - within the Thornham Estate in Suffolk and along The Waveney Valley, which borders the county with Norfolk, to the north. Aided and abetted by another staunch helper, Kevin Boyce, and the Countryside Park Ranger at Thornham, Tim Page, the main aim was to put up nest boxes for the various bird of prey species which inhabit the local area.

The Thornham Team build their own nest boxes

However, it soon became apparent that - in common with large tracts of the British countryside - there was a distinct lack of Barn Owl nesting sites in the area. This was primarily because many of the old hollow trees favoured by Barn Owls had been felled or blown over in high winds, and in this neck of the woods, many of the old barn buildings had been converted into luxury houses and offices.

As a result of Roger & Marks initiative, the project has now erected over 100 Barn Owl nest boxes stretching along the Waveney Valley corridor from Redgrave to Bungay, along the Gipping Valley and throughout the Thornham Estate. Importantly, the scheme enjoys an excellent success rate - the project saw 40 Barn Owl chicks reared from these boxes in 2007.

With this in mind, the Thornham Owl Project is now radiating further north into South Norfolk with more nest box schemes, and it's here that we (that is S.O.S., as trustees of the donations you are kind enough to fund us with) hope to be of assistance.

Firstly, the 'patch' we cover as part of our East Anglia Nest Box Scheme is pretty much centralised through Mid Suffolk: establishing links with the Thornham Owl Project means that hopefully we can avoid any duplication of effort and so ensure our resources are used more efficiently. I am sure we will learn from the experience of the Thornham group, too. Secondly, S.O.S. have offered to fund the purchase of materials The Thornham Owl Project may need for the building of new nest boxes for their extended programme.

The Thornham Team have the necessary accreditation to allow the careful ringing of young Barn Owlets

So, we hope this is the beginning of a new co-operation which we hope will benefit all concerned, not least the Owls. We'll keep you posted as to progress and future developments.

P.S. Just a polite reminder that any Barn Owl nesting sites are protected by law. You may not disturb, take eggs or chicks from any nest unless you have a special Disturbance Licence which is issued by DEFRA. If you think that Barn Owls are in situ in the nest box, please leave well alone but by all means contact a proper source such as the Thornham Owl Project or us here at SOS.