The barn owls are back!

Message from Julie Newblé yesterday:

Spotted a barn owl at 05:56 this morning. Flew from green area by bridge in Lambrok Close along the stream towards their tree.

Thank you, Julie, for keeping us informed.

We hope that this is one half of the pair of owls first seen in the park in March of 2018. For a couple of weeks, they hunted over Lambrok Stream and Lambrok Meadow and seemed to favour a suitable oak tree. We crossed our fingers and hoped they would stay and nest in the park but icy weather swept in from the east and they moved on.

Both pictures (CC0) from Google Images

Bad weather affects barn owls more than many other owl species, and numbers can crash quite dramatically if it continues for too long. The cold spring of 2018 was a very poor breeding season for barn owls throughout much of Britain and many early nests, already with eggs or small chicks, failed. We wondered if there had been eggs or chicks in the oak tree that our pair had chosen, and if the failure of that nest had led to their leaving.

But barn owls are creatures of habit, returning to well-used roosts and nest sites year after year, and here they are again. We would feel more confident about the possibility of their staying if they had been seen here last year; if there is anybody who saw them last year, please contact us.

Barn owls are mainly nocturnal, but may hunt before dusk and around dawn particularly when feeding young, which is, of course, what we hope they are doing. These are the best times to see them; so it’s the evening dog walkers and the early morning runners who need to keep a look out for us, please.

Perhaps there will be owlets this year.

Barn owlets by chdwckvnstrsslhm (CC BY 2.0)

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