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1. The Barn Owl Trust fully supports the comments by the HS2 Ecology Technical Group on the ecological content of the HS2 Draft Environmental Statement and associated documents. In particular; a) that more time is allocated for a proper assessment of both the short and long-term impacts on habitats and species, and b) the full Environmental Statement must set out exactly how the project will achieve net gains for biodiversity including Barn Owls.
2. The draft ES does not adequately address the issue of the probable effects of HS2 on Barn Owls.
3. The scope of the stated impact on Barn Owls, the terminology used, and other inadequacies (draft ES 7.5.8-13) indicate the author's lack of relevant knowledge.
4. In considering only the impact on nesting sites within 1.5km of the route, the draft ES is clearly inadequate. Specifically, the long-term impact of increased annual mortality of dispersing juvenile Barn Owls is not mentioned.
5. The draft ES does not include any measures aimed at preventing owl-train collisions.
6. The idea that the provision of nest boxes over 1.5 km from the route can effectively mitigate the impact of HS2 on Barn Owls ("offset the adverse effect") is ill-founded. Specifically, the statement "if the proposed mitigation measures for barn owl are implemented through liaison with landowners, the residual effect on barn owl would be reduced to a level that is not significant" is not true.
David Ramsden MBE, Senior Conservation Officer
6th December 2013
Christmas gifts from the BOT
With December galloping towards us the Barn Owl Trust can help out with Xmas gift ideas. A Barn Owl Adoption is perfect for anyone that loves owls or for someone who already “has everything”. We have cuddly owls and owlets that are soft and huggable, nestboxes for Barn Owls, Tawnies, Little Owls and garden birds all built here at the BOT. There are stocking fillers, Christmas cards and even puddings. We have a lovely handmade Barn Owl puzzle box and a pellet analysis pack, a Christmas gift wrap set and even some wooden mice!
There is something for everyone with prices to suit every pocket and better still, every purchase helps to support our Barn Owl conservation work.
Happy browsing and thank you for your support.
Tragic end to the most appalling year.
If you have a water trough, water butt, or even just a horse water bucket - a Barn Owl could easily drown in it. Please make it safe - it's very easy to do.
Here's how: How to Prevent Drowning (Free leaflet to download or print)
It is a sad fact that around 6% of all reported Barn Owl deaths are birds found dead in farm cattle troughs and similar steep sided deep water containers. Our free leaflet explains why Barn Owls are sometimes found dead in water and gives easy to follow DIY instructions on how to make a simple float that will help to prevent such deaths.
If you see a Barn Owl in the UK, dead or alive, you can record your sighting on-line at www.barnowlsurvey.org.uk
Four Hungarian trainees have spent four days with the Trust as part of a project run by Ambios.net
They arrived on Tuesday and were welcomed with presentations about the Barn Owl, the Trust and its work and the Lennon Legacy Project (LLP) and then had a tour of our 26 acre site.
The following day two of the trainees accompanied conservation staff, who were checking sites for the current Devon Barn Owl Survey. The other two spent the day in our workshop with our ‘handymen’ and built an outdoor nestbox for the conservation team to erect this winter. On Thursday they swapped around so all got both surveying and nestbox-building experience. On Friday they were back together again and spent the day with conservation officer Matthew carrying out practical tasks in the LLP.
This is the sixth group of Hungarian trainees to spend time here at the Trust over the past two years. All have come through the Leonardo da Vinci Programme, part of the EC’s Lifelong Learning Programme. We wish them the best of luck in their search for conservation positions on their return to Hungary at Christmas.
Pensilva Nestbox Workshop
The November nestbox workshop held by the Trust and the Pensilva Wildlife Group resulted in thirteen new homes for Barn Owls being built. Participants met in the Millennium Hall, Pensilva for a presentation by our Head of Conservation, David. They then transformed old tea-chests into desirable residences for the birds. The day was completed by a visit to a local farm where a nestbox was erected and David answered questions and gave advice on putting up boxes safely in suitable locations. Despite the wet and windy weather the day was a great success.
If you are part of a group interested in organising a nestbox workshop with the Trust in your local area please contact Hannah. If you are an individual wanting to attend a workshop here at the Trust you can find out exactly what is involved by reading our Nestbox Workshop page and then email us and we'll let you know when we have a date.
LLP Events at the Barn Owl Trust
The weather was kind to us in October when we held the first of our two Autumn Colours walks. The Lennon Legacy project was looking beautiful, and there were scones, muffins and cups of tea all round at the end!
The next walk will be on the 14th of November, see our Events Diary for details.
Our Little Owl boxes feature an internal baffle and an inspection hatch.
Bigger Range of nestboxes now available
Our Barn Owl boxes have always been ‘built to last’ but sadly the same cannot be said of many of the small bird nestboxes we’ve bought from commercial suppliers! So after years of testing we are now supplying ‘built to last’ nestboxes for small birds (tits, pied flycatchers etc.) for your garden or woodland project. After years of requests we have also added Little Owl and Tawny Owl nestboxes to the range.
Our boxes are more expensive than many, but in our experience they last three or four times as long. They are all built using treated FSC-approved timber and all outdoor boxes have sealed joints and seriously thick roofing felt.
Practical Conservation in Action
Three of our conservation team took a break from their normal Barn Owl conservation work today to undertake tasks on our Lennon Legacy Project. Despite the intermittent torrential downpours Matt wrestled with the 'Beast' cutting bracken and bramble on slopes too steep for the tractor. Hannah used a brush cutter on the areas the 'Beast' couldn’t reach and David dug a ditch to bury a drainage pipe so that the implement shed doesn’t flood.
The Lennon Legacy land is an inspirational project that began in 2001 when the Trust purchased 26 acres of intensively grazed grassland and began to manage it for wildlife conservation.
See photographs of the changes and the wildlife by visiting our Slideshow Directory.
"The worst Barn Owl breeding season for over thirty years" is how 2013 is being described by conservationists throughout the UK and beyond. Voted Britain's most popular farmland bird, this icon of the countryside is now in very serious trouble.
A run of extreme weather events since 2009 has devastated not only people and property but Barn Owls and other wildlife. The final blow was March 2013. "Barn Owl mortality usually peaks in February and then things improve" said Barn Owl Trust spokesperson David Ramden MBE, "but in March this year mortality just kept increasing and by the end of the month huge numbers were dead". At a time when Barn Owls should have been thinking of breeding the British Trust for Ornithology recorded a 280% increase in reports of dead birds many of which had starved.
Numbers were already low due to the bitterly cold winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11 and the extremely wet 'English summers' of 2010 and 2011. "In 2012 our hopes were high" says David. "Fantastic summer weather in March 2012 meant that the owls started breeding earlier and by late May we were finding nests with as many as seven well-grown owlets. Then in June it all went horribly wrong. The rain started and just didn't stop. This prevented the adults hunting and many young birds starved. In some cases, we found entire broods of beautiful owlets dead in the nest".
This year's round of 73 Annual Monitoring Site visits by the Barn Owl Trust has now revealed the extent of the devastation. On average nesting occurs at 51% of sites, this year's figure is a mere 12% and 47% of nest sites are completely unoccupied. At the 12% of sites where pairs have managed to survive and breed, the average number of young in the nest is just two rather than the four or five that are needed for population recovery. Britain's biggest regular Barn Owl survey carried out every ten years in Devon is checking 1,234 sites this year. Out of 276 sites checked so far, Barn Owls are nesting at just 7. Of these seven, only four have young in the box and two have abandoned their eggs.
Figures from independent Barn Owl Groups around the country are all painting a similar picture. The Shropshire Barn Owl Group has 120 sites where they usually have 36 nests, this year they have found only 4. The West Sussex group has 90 sites that normally have up to 55 nests, this year there are only 5. And it's not only the UK that is affected. Dr Akos Klein from the Hungarian Barn Owl Foundation has found similar results, "Out of 30 regular nest sites we found one active nest and one solitary bird. This is pretty much the case all over Hungary. Our March was like January."
A hundred years ago the Barn Owl was a common farmland bird, if this year is anything to go by this beautiful bird is now far more scarce than it was in the 1980's when it was estimated to have declined by 70% since 1932.
How you can help
If you see a Barn Owl dead or alive you can record your sighting on-line at www.barnowlsurvey.org.uk
Find out more about Barn Owls by exploring our website
Lucky to be Alive
This young Barn Owl was the subject of a call to our Live Owl Emergency line on Friday. Recently fledged, she’d managed to get her legs tangled in baler twine and then get hooked onto barbed wire on an electricity pole only a short distance from the nest.
Glenda Calvert from Pry House Farm in North Yorshire rang the Trust to ask for advice and then, despite her fear of heights, Glenda decided to climb up to cut the twine and release the bird. Fortunately the barbed wire was much lower than the live wires! “The owl was quite calm and I was able to gently snip away at the string” said Glenda.
Having started to check the owl over; following the instructions on our website, she decided to take it to her local vet where the young owl was fed and observed overnight.
“The following morning the vet phoned to say that the owl had survived the night and was more lively; her talons were obviously working properly as she’d been trying to peck the vet (a good sign!). Today I put her back in the barn where she was raised. Imagine my delight when I discovered another young owl in there too! So from a brood of three or maybe four, at least two have made it. A big thank you to David, Senior Conservation Officer at the Barn Owl Trust”, said Glenda, “his advice and guidance was invaluable.”
SGARs (Rat Poison) and Barn Owls - Let’s get the information right
At least 76% of farms in the UK use Second Generation Anti-coagulant Rodenticides (SGARs). The Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme shows that a shocking 91% of Barn Owls analysed in 2010 contained SGARs and in 2011 the proportion of contaminated Red Kites reached an all-time high of 94%.
The vast majority of our Barn Owls, Kestrels, and Red Kites contain rat poison. Our Senior Conservation Officer, David Ramsden MBE, gave a presentation at the recent HSE (Health & Safety Executive) Seminar on the future for Second Generation Anti-coagulant Rodenticides in Britain. As a result of this the Barn Owl Trust was invited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health to submit an article to their newsletter; Pest Control News - PCN Issue 95. You can download and read David's article by clicking here - Click the 'Download' Button then scroll down to page 16.
A Book to Save a Species
We are delighted to announce that TV wildlife presenter Chris Packham has reviewed our Barn Owl Conservation Handbook on his blog.
Chris says; “Its detail is impressive to say the least. Each aspect of the Barn Owl’s care is meticulously outlined and the latest practical and applied methods of conservation are clearly analysed and presented. If ever there was a handbook which could save a species then this is it.
Anyone who has any interest and any capacity to assist in Barn Owl conservation should thus own this important book, whether it’s through care of injured birds, preparing them for release, managing habitat, protecting or designing nesting resources, understanding the legal aspects of planning or photography or the best techniques to employ whilst surveying and recording the species, it’s here. Along with the basics of its ecology, breeding biology and population dynamics it is complete, remarkable, brilliant.”
You can read the whole review by visiting http://www.chrispackham.co.uk/news/blog/off-the-shelf/a-book-to-save-a-species and you can buy the book from our website.
You can now report your Barn Owl sites and sightings (both dead and alive) anywhere in the UK on-line.
www.barnowlsurvey.org.uk is a project of the Barn Owl Trust launched on 1st May 2013.
With an Identification Guide to check the bird or the signs you saw really were Barn Owl you can report where, when and what you saw. The site map will give you a 10 figure map reference and latitude, longitude and elevation for your sighting.
By creating a unique logon you can return to the site and review your records at any time.
David Ramsden MBE, Head of Conservation at the Barn Owl Trust said “The new website makes it really easy for people to report Barn Owl sightings, roosts and nest sites. Receiving reports from the public is an important part of our population monitoring and allows us to target our conservation work to where it is most needed”.
Have you seen a wild Barn Owl since the cold weather?
Winter snow and low spring temperatures have more than doubled the mortality of Britain’s most popular farmland bird – the Barn Owl. Now the charity dedicated to their survival has launched a nation-wide appeal for sightings of these beautiful birds to be reported on-line.
Barn Owl Trust Head of Conservation, David Ramsden MBE announced “We are extremely concerned that few birds have survived to breed this year and are asking everyone who sees a Barn Owl to report it to us on-line”. Today sees the launch of a new website: www.barnowlsurvey.org.uk where anyone can report a Barn Owl sighting.
The website also provides a comprehensive identification guide for the birds and their signs with a huge gallery of images and sound clips to allow you ensure the bird you saw really was a Barn Owl. The Trust is keen to record reports of all wild Barn Owls – whether dead or alive.
With Barn Owl numbers being so low most people will never see one of these wonderful birds in the wild. But for those that are lucky, this site provides an opportunity to record exactly where and when you saw the owl and what it was doing.
Three New BOT Slideshows to see
If you have a few minutes to spare check out the Trust’s three new slideshows:
Each one opens in a new window.
With the Barn Owl breeding season almost upon us we’ve been excited that a second bird has appeared in the nestcam site – throughout February just the male had been seen but as at the beginning of March a pair is being seen again. You can visit the Nestcam to watch live or read the Nestcam Diary to see the latest news. By selecting our YouTube link you can see all of our videos including footage of owlets from previous breeding seasons. We have also included a link to an 8+ minute piece of footage of Barn Owlets 2012 put together by ' ' from last year’s nestcam showing the owlets in the nestbox and flying around inside the Barn.
To find out more about the Trust watch our three minute video to see what we do and why or if you want to learn more about the birds we have a selection of short videos:
An introduction to the Barn Owl – over 95,000 folk have viewed this video to date
Barn Owl Hunting Slideshow
Wildlife photographer Ed MacKerrow from Mountain Horizon Photography has provided a link to his stunning Barn Owl photographs featuring a Barn Owl hunting in snow. The link on the right will take you to the slideshow where you can see the owl catching a vole and then carrying its prey as it flies towards the camera. All of these photos are of wild owls catching wild prey. You can then explore the other amazing photographs on his site.
Ed is a huge fan of the Barn Owl Trust and has used the Barn Owl Trust online information to setup a network of Barn owl nest boxes in New Mexico. He has also generously offered to donate 20% of the profits from the sale of any of his Barn Owl photographs to the Trust and provide images for the BOT 2013 Christmas cards.
Visit our News Archives for other stories and older news items: News Archives
This year will see Devon’s Barn Owl population surveyed by the Barn Owl Trust for the third consecutive decade, there were previous surveys in 1993 and 2003.
In 2003 we checked/recorded 1,176 sites and recorded 281 nests and 348 roost sites. This year we hope to do even more!
Anyone and Everyone can get involved.
- Submit your own Barn Owl sightings on-line: www.barnowlsurvey.org.uk
- Register to become a Survey Volunteer
- Make a donation to support the survey
- Print and display the Wanted Poster - click the link on the right
- Book a walk or talk for your group or school to raise awareness of Barn Owl conservation
- Businesses – make a grant to support a new on-line recording system for the species - contact us for more details
The survey will allow us to identify changes in Barn Owl numbers across Devon and guide conservation work in the county over the next decade, thereby conserving the Barn Owl and its environment for future generations.
Go to the Devon Barn Owl Survey page for more information about the Survey and how to get involved.
It’s almost impossible to believe that this year the Trust will be 25 years old! Please help to support our work and to celebrate our 25th birthday by promoting the Trust, recruiting new Friends or holding a fund-raising event.
A coffee morning for your friends, a car boot sale, a draw, plant stall, a sponsored something’ or baking cakes for your workmates can all help to raise awareness and funds, best of all they can be fun too.
We can supply leaflets and posters to help you advertise, we can also add your event to our Forthcoming Events page on our website if you would like us to. Whoever you are and wherever you live you can join in. Help support our work and celebrate 25 years of Barn Owl conservation.
If you live in the South West or are visiting Devon do look at our Forthcoming Events list. Come along to an event, meet the team and see how your support really does help. We’d love to see you.
Individuals, groups, schools and business can all get involved. We need your support and together we really can make a difference.
Feedback Back Issues
Back issues of our bi-annual newsletter have been uploaded to this website for those that want to know what the Trust has been doing over the last few years. The copies go back to 2007 and are available as pdfs’ for anyone that is interested in looking through the 16-page publications.
Feedback is usually produced in greyscale but the back issues include our 20th anniversary edition of 20-page with a full colour cover. It is sent to Friends’ and supporters of the Trust by post or email in the spring and autumn and keeps them in touch with our work and latest news.
You can receive copies by becoming a Friend of the Barn Owl Trust and supporting our work of conserving the Barn Owl and its Environment.
The link on the right takes you to our General Information Page. Scroll to the bottom for Feedback.
Wednesday 22nd August
Following its trip to the Veterinary Hospital in Plymouth to have the barbed wire removed the Tawny Owl returned to the Trust with a course of antibiotics for rehabilitation. After a few days in our hospital and once it was eating voluntarily it was moved into one of our hospital aviaries. Latest news from the conservation team is that it is feisty but not yet attempting to fly.
Thursday 16th August 2012
This Tawny Owl was brought to the Trust this morning. Found hanging from a barbed wire fence near Ashburton the wire was cut to minimise the damage removing it from the fence.
Having been checked over by our conservation team and found to be in otherwise good condition a volunteer immediately transported the owl to the Veterinary Hospital in Plymouth where it was examined. It appears that the injury is mainly soft tissue damage and the bird should return here tomorrow for recuperation and hopefully eventual release - we'll keep you posted.
Unfortunately this is not the first casualty owl the Trust has received caught on barbed wire.
- Barn Owls are Britain's most popular farmland bird but they have declined by at least 70% and there are only 4000 pairs left.
- One third of all the young Barn Owls produced annually (3000 birds) end up dead on trunk roads. At least 1000 adult Barn Owls are also killed annually
- The Highways Agency has ignored recommendations made in 2003 and has singularly failed to do anything to reduce mortality. 3000 more young Barn Owls will die this Autumn. Trunk roads kill 450 times more Barn Owls (per mile) than other roads. Major roads and Barn Owls
- Latest government figures show that a staggering 91% of Barn Owls contain rat/mouse poison (rodenticide). Some die as a direct result. Most contain sub leathal doses that could be reducing the owls hunting ability and nesting success.
- The use of rodenticides is largely uncontrolled and the information on containers is both misleading and inadequate: Most people who use rodenticides have no idea that they are poisoning Barn Owls and other wildlife. Rodenticides and Barn Owls
- The first-ever Barn Owl Conservation Handbook, published this month exposes these critical issues and is a highly critical wake-up call for the Highways Agency, the rodenticide manufacturers and the Health and Safety Executives of Chemicals Regulation Directorate.
Barn Owls are stunningly beautiful and to see one hunting at dusk, is a magnificent sight. However most of the wild Barn Owls people see these days are dead on the roadside. If you're really lucky and see a live Barn Owl the chances are that it will already be poisoned. Government research has shown that the vast majority of Britain's Barn Owls contain highly toxic rat poison. Overall, the population has declined by at least 70% since the 1930's and researchers have identified trunk roads and rat poisons as two of the most likely causes.
For further information please email:
Keep up to date with our latest Nestcam News
Click the link on the right and go to the Nestcam Diary 2013 to discover how things are going this year in a wild Barn Owl nest.
From here there are links to our Nestcam and Barncam so you can see for yourself. There are also links to Nestcam Diaries for each year since 2008.
Because of the high volume of email we receive relating to Nestcam we have set up a dedicated email address for letting us know of any unusual activity. Please check the diary first and use the new email address to report any noteworthy events.
Here you can find out how you can help us to conserve the beautiful Barn Owl. Watch our 3 minute video to find out more about the Trust and its work. We have six short 1.5 minute videos including an Introduction to the Barn Owl, Providing a home and Where do Barn Owls feed. There are lots of information leaflets and reports you can download as well as some rather wonderful desktop backgrounds. We also have a huge slideshow library with a vast amount of information about Barn Owls, the land the Trust owns and manages for wildlife and much, much more.
You can support our work by making a donation, becoming a Friend of the Trust, adopting one of the Barn Owls in our sanctuary or by making a purchase from our on-line shop - checkout our nestboxes, cards, clothing and gift ideas.
Click on any bold text to take you straight to that part of our website and have fun exploring. To keep in touch and up-to-date with the latest news and events here you can set our News page or our LLP diary as one of your browser favourites
Donate Your Scrap Car to the Barn Owl Trust
The Barn Owl Trust has recently teamed up with Giveacar, the UK’s largest car donation service. Giveacar arranges the free collection of any car, regardless of its condition, anywhere in the UK.
Cars are either scrapped, and a donation to the Trust made based on the value of scrap metal, or put into an auction, and a donation made based on the price gained at auction.
If you have an old car this is a really good way to get rid of it and support the Trust at the same time.
To donate a car to The Barn Owl Trust, please click here and it will take you to our page on the Giveacar website.
Three Minute Wonder!
Our new promotional film is now 'live' on the Barn Owl Trust website! Go to 'About the Trust', 'Watch our three minute video' to have a look. The film is a short summary of the work of the Trust, tracing its foundations in 1988 right through to the present day. Conservation, education and research are all highlighted in the video, as well as information provision.
The film emphasises just how vital donations, adoptions and legacies are to enabling the Trust to continue its work. The Lennon Legacy Project is a fantastic example of how a legacy can really make a difference, allowing the Trust to transform 26 acres of intensive grassland into 26 acres of Barn Owl heaven - which now has two pairs of breeding Barn Owls!! As well as appearing on our website, the film will accompany funding applications to show the varied amount of work the Trust undertakes.
A big 'thank you' to Hilltribe Productions for a great production. Our new 'Wings of Change' educational film should arrive any day now. We can hardly wait!!
Lennon Legacy Project News
See the latest news from the Lennon Legacy Project - turning 26 acres of what was intensively grazed grassland into Barn Owl paradise - it's great for loads of wildlife too. Click the link on the right for the LLP monthly diary and visit our 15+ LLP slideshows for "How it used to look, Hedge creation, Butterflies" and so much more..........
Visit our Slideshows
The Trusts website has over 70 different slideshows for you to view. Select the link on the right hand side of the page to see the list: Owl pictures, Barn Owls, Other Owls, Barn Owl prey and their signs, Signs of owls, Pellets, Barn Owl habitat, Hazards facing Barn Owls, Rehabilitation and sanctuary, Nestboxes, Nestbox construction, Nestbox erection, Barns, barn conversions and other nest sites, Lennon Legacy Project, Training and education and Other slideshows – enjoy.