Barn owl chicks get ready to fledge on DWT webcam
Thursday 29th June 2017
Dorset Wildlife Trust’s (DWT’s) webcam has recorded the largest number of barn owl chicks ready to fledge from the nest box located at the Lorton Meadows nature reserve in Weymouth since the camera was installed in 2010, by Wildlife Windows*.
The webcam, which is sponsored by Dorset Tea, has been entertaining viewers all over the UK since April, when eight eggs were laid; a surprisingly large clutch for barn owls. Viewers have been monitoring the progress of the chicks since, with five owlets now getting ready to leave the barn owl box.
Five owlets fledging is a great success story for barn owls, as their numbers have been in decline nationally, with 2013 seeing the worst breeding season in 30 years. The UK population of barn owls fell by 70% between the 1930s and the 1980s. Unusual weather such as long winters, cold summers and wet springs have made it harder to hunt and changes in farming practices and barn conversions to houses have meant loss of nesting sites.
It is thought that the dry weather in the last few months may have helped the barn owl parents’ ability to hunt effectively and feed their chicks. Rick Lockwood, Assistant Conservation Officer for the Barn Owl Trust, said, “It has been a good breeding season across the Southwest, with good brood sizes at many sites.”
It's been a priviledge to be able to watch them grow
DWT Community Conservation Officer based at Lorton Meadows, Sam Dallimore, said, “This year the female has laid the most eggs we’ve ever had in the barn owl box. In the past the owls have laid between 4 and 6 eggs, so we were amazed. We’re thrilled that 5 have survived so far – the parents have been doing fantastically well to provide all the chicks with food, it’s obviously been a very good year for voles! We, and all the webcam viewers, are hoping for drier weather over the weekend, so they can hunt more easily. I’ll be sad to see them go, it’s been a privilege to be able to watch them grow and it’s been brilliant reading all the owl watchers comments on the webpage”.
The barn owlets will be fledging any day now, but the adult male will return throughout the winter to roost, which will be shown live on the screen in the Lorton Meadows Conservation Centre, Lorton Lane, Weymouth, DT3 5QH.
Last chance to see them!
For the last chance to view the barn owl chicks before they fledge, view our webcam here.
Notes to Editor
*Wildlife Windows have installed and maintained the barn owl webcam since 2010. Visit the Wildlife Windows website here.
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 26,500 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
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