In the last couple of years we have been collaborating with the recently formed Vale of Belvoir Barn Owl Conservation Group, masterminded by Don Pritchett. They cover an area of c75 square miles in north-east Leics from Bottesford to Melton. So far they have put up about 65 boxes and they monitor another 15 or so. They plan to fit another 20 or so to complete the project. The following summary is from Don:
In 2009 we had 10 confirmed pairs and 4 probables. For 2010 the current estimate is 19 pairs. Generally breeding is about 1-2 weeks later than last year with exception of one pair who had 3 young 3-4 weeks earlier than most. There is also Some indication of deferred breeding or no breeding. For example, a female at Barkestone weighed 300g when ideally she needed to have weighed 380-430g to breed.
An increase in winter use of boxes in all areas by Barn Owls has been noted and we also have 2 Tawny Owls and 4 Kestrels. 3 of the new boxes near Long Clawson have Barn Owls in already.
Early ringing (and examination of birds by ringers) information from 2009 and this year shows a high incidence of one or both adults caught this year being first year birds. Also, birds ringed elsewhere by SNRG and RUBOP have started to turn up in our boxes.
Monitoring costs are part sponsored for 2010 and 2 further years by the Leicester and Rutland Ornithological Society.
Thanks to Keith for the photos.