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 Wokingham

Conservation Helps Barn Owls In Area

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At least 11 barn owls born in the Wokingham Borough are on the verge of taking their first flight, according to the findings of the summer survey of the area’s barn owl boxes. And more of the rare birds could be on their way with the study showing indications the parents might also try for a second brood this year.

Barn Owls - Wokingham

More than 20 barn owl have been boxes installed on telegraph poles and in trees to help keep the rare species of bird thriving in the borough by providing somewhere to nest and take advantage of the good hunting ground locally. It is part of Wokingham Borough Council’s barn owl conservation project, which has been running for more than 15 years to try and help boost numbers of the species.

The project was launched in 2002 and has been a great success with more than 250 chicks being born in the area since then. The council works alongside the Barn Owl Conservation Network and the British Trust of Ornithologists to maintain the boxes and monitor the number of chicks being born in the area each year, feeding into national statistics for the bird of prey.

Barn Owls

As well as barn owls, the boxes are occasionally used by kestrels for nesting and the project also records their numbers as an indicator of the health of the countryside. Council staff and volunteers work alongside an accredited Natural England Schedule 1 licence holder to inspect the boxes each year.

Barn Owls - Wokingham

Every effort is made to minimise disturbance to the animals while the number of eggs, chicks and stockpiled prey are monitored. Where possible, chicks are also ringed to help identify them in the future and track the species over time.

“The council’s long-running barn owl conservation project helps ensure we are doing everything we can to keep this beautiful species thriving in the Wokingham Borough,” said Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure.

“Our officers do excellent work alongside kind and interested volunteers across our area to keep the boxes in great condition and provide a perfect nesting site for barn owls. As a rural area with lots of countryside, we do all we can to boost biodiversity and provide areas where all types of wildlife can live happily.”

Volunteers

The council is always looking for countryside volunteers. All tasks are ranger-led with tools and instruction provided.  Everybody is welcome and no experience is necessary. If you are interested in volunteering, email countryside@wokingham.gov.uk   

Barn Owls - Wokingham

If you are interested in working on the barn owl box checks, please contact the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership, which the council works alongside on the project. For more information contact Stuart Croft on stuart.croft@hants.gov.uk