New arrivals for Barn Owls living on Cheshire shoot

Conservationists have found three Barn Owl chicks living in a nesting box on a shoot in north Cheshire. The discovery is significant as the Barn Owl population has declined in Cheshire from 240 pairs in 1932 to 151 in 2007.

The shoot near Daresbury, which is a member of BASC’s Green Shoots scheme, asked Cheshire project officer Ben Gregory to check some of their old Barn Owl boxes to see if any birds had nested in them after adult birds were spotted hunting in the area.

Ben enlisted the help of the Mid-Cheshire barn owl group’s Andrew Duncalf who came out and ringed the three chicks and two adult birds.

Green Shoots project officer for Cheshire, Ben Gregory, said: “After the particularly wet weather last year which led to poor overall breeding success this is an excellent discovery. It’s a prime example of how BASC is working in partnership with other local conservation groups in the Cheshire region Biodiversity Partnership to deliver practical conservation on the ground. The boxes have to be in the right habitat to successfully attract the birds, and land managed for shooting provides this.”

Andrew Duncalf from the Mid-Cheshire barn owl group said: “All of the local Barn Owl Groups in Cheshire rely upon the goodwill and cooperation of the landowners concerned. Without the combination of good habitat creation and the provision of suitable breeding sites then the future of this iconic species is under great threat. The culmination of this cooperation is, of course, when breeding owls set up territory and, hopefully, remain loyal to it in the future. Areas of good habitat also need to be connected, so that Barn Owls can travel into new territories and young Barn Owls can disperse away from the parental nest site.”

“Ringing the birds allows us to monitor the local Barn Owl population and to positively influence the conservation needs of this Biodiversity Action Plan species. Our challenge for the future is to continue this effective partnership work by balancing the needs of agricultural pressures with effective habitat creation.”

ENDS

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