Barn Owl nest photography or filming sometimes results in low-level disturbance of nesting birds or their dependent young and is therefore only permitted under licence from the relevant country agency*.
*Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural Resources Wales and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
However, the taking of a few brief snap-shots during a licensed nest inspection does not require a photography licence. Flash photography is permissible and birds generally take more notice of camera and flashgun sounds than they do of the flash itself.
Artificial lighting of a nest for the purpose of photography or filming generally does require a licence, although exceptions are sometimes made for infra-red lights or very low intensity light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
The installation of a camera for viewing live action and/or a microphone in or very close to a nest does not normally require a licence, provided that it is installed before the nesting cycle commences and not removed until the last dependent young has stopped returning to the nest. However, any equipment maintenance that involves visiting or otherwise disturbing an active nest cannot be carried out without a licence. It is advisable that all such installations are completed by the end of January, as in February and March there is an increasing risk of flushing birds from their intended nesting place, which should certainly be avoided.
To confirm whether or not a licence is needed for a particular project, or to make a licence application, please contact the relevant country agency. Schedule 1 photography licence applicants who have not held such a licence in the past three years are required to provide evidence of their photographic skills.
* Country agencies:
- Natural England.
- Natural Resources Wales.
- Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
- Scottish Natural Heritage.