Villagers help popular owls

WILDLIFE lovers at Waldringfield have been helping one of Suffolk's most popular birds.

WILDLIFE lovers at Waldringfield have been helping one of Suffolk's most popular birds.

Residents clubbed together to buy four barn owl boxes which they put up at the weekend.

The Waldringfield Wildlife Group (WWG) has been working with the Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project and Suffolk Wildlife Trust and received extra funding for the project from Suffolk Coasts and Heaths.

Steve Piotrowski, of the Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project, said the boxes would be monitored to see how well they were used.

“This year has been the best for barn owl for three quarters of a century, but for these birds to survive nest sites and well-managed grassland which provide habitat for vole, their staple food, are critical,” he said.

“WWG have already done brilliantly by establishing a Millennium Green and I am delighted to be involved in supporting them in putting up the barn owl boxes.

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“These will be monitored over the years to establish how they are being used and how many young are being reared.

“My work with the Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project involves liaising with local communities on conservation initiatives such as this and advising landowners on grassland management; the recovery of Suffolk's barn owl is dependent on the widespread availability of rough grassland where small mammals such as vole which are found.”

The Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project, an initiative run by Suffolk Wildlife Trust in partnership with Suffolk Ornithological Group, aims to increase Suffolk's barn owl numbers and put up more than 500 barn owl boxes by 2010.

The project has been running just two years and already erected 350-plus nest boxes and inherited a further 150 boxes to monitor.

Despite last year's very wet summer it was a phenomenal breeding season.

As a result, pioneering birds have been seen in parts of the county where barn owl have been absent for more than 20 years. From a sample of 235 boxes monitored by the project in 2007, more than a quarter were occupied by barn owls.

Barn owl boxes can be bought from SWT for £60 plus VAT and erected by a qualified tree surgeon at £40 plus VAT per box. Ring Wildline on 01473 890089 or e-mail Oka Russell on Oka.Russell@suffolkwildlifetrust.org

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