Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 8°C

Search

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

PUBLISHED: 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.

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.”

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 Ipswich Star 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 Ipswich Star 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 Ipswich Star 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

Bosses at the Suffolk Food Hall hope to set a new world record for the most people eating a sausage roll in the same place at the same time.

A go-getting parish council, three popular pubs and plenty of community spirit are some of the ingredients singled out for earning Shotley the chance of being named the country’s ‘village of the year’.

Bookies are tipping the Missing People Choir which has among its membership Suffolk’s Nicki Durbin – to be named winners of this year’s Britain’s Got Talent.

Tendring is the antidepressant capital of East Anglia according to a new study – and the Suffolk districts of Waveney and Babergh are not far behind.

Trains between London and Ipswich faced cancellation and delay this evening as attempts were made to remove a trespasser from the rail line.

Young people who were representing Scouting during the Saint George’s Day parades have been a “credit” to their communities.

Police are appealing for help in tracing a missing 15-year-old boy from Stowmarket.

A cloud of uncertainty will overshadow weather in Suffolk this week, with temperatures hovering below average and spring showers on the way.

Two men in their 20s have been arrested following a police pursuit in Ipswich this morning which reached speeds of over 100mph.

The first runners from our region have recovered enough after finishing the London Marathon to take selfies and let their family and friends back home how they feel.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24