Thank you for visiting our website. We are a small local conservation charity (Registered Charity No. 1093893) and our aim is to encourage a viable population of wild Barn Owls on the Wirral peninsula.
We want to tell you something about these beautiful birds; why they are under threat and what we are doing to help them. You can help in so many ways - you can become involved as much or as little as you wish, but most of all we value your support for what we are trying to achieve.
The pale and ghostly form of a Barn Owl floating over the fields used to be a common site on the Wirral peninsula. Two major surveys - one in 1932, the other in 1985 - showed that the population declined in Cheshire and Wirral by 85% in the intervening years. We are working hard to reverse that decline and have had considerable success but the situation is still precarious and we need lots of help!
The main reasons for the decline are loss of rough grassland habitat, which is home to prey species such as voles and mice, and the loss of nesting and roosting sites in old farm buildings: many of these have been converted into homes or replaced by modern agricultural buildings which are unsuitable.
When the (then called) Wirral & Ellesmere Port Barn Owl Group was first set up in 1999 there was only one pair of breeding Barn Owls known on the Wirral peninsula, from the North Wirral shore right down to the Shropshire Union Canal near Chester. Go to the next page for news of what is going on.
In 2016, the UK mean laying date for Barn Owls occurred 25 days later than the five-year average and was the latest recorded since the BTO Nest Record Scheme began in 1939, making it the most delayed breeding bird species by far. Despite the cold, wet start to the spring, initial signs looked promising for an early season, though the chilly end to the month of April may have postponed breeding in others. This year, experts are finding it hard to anticipate what we might see. The apparently-high vole abundance seen later in 2016 is expected to remain so for at least the early part of 2017. Overall, this should mean high levels of occupancy at traditional sites, a late-April laying date for most pairs, and a slightly higher than average brood size for most regions. But, like weather forecasting, it is very difficult to predict what will actually happen and we will need to get out there checking regularly.
The weather in the months ahead will no doubt bring more twists this year but let’s not forget - a mild spring together with good vole numbers could change everything! So, why not grab your binoculars, wrap up warm and start checking out some rough grassland near you? Your sightings reports will help us to focus our monitoring effort - you can report sightings by telephone, email or via this website - go to Sightings Reporting page.
No. of successful breeding pairs: 17
No. of young fledged: 34
Pole box nests: 8
Tree box nests: 8
Building box nests: 1
Natural nests: None found
7.30pm Thursday 30th March 2017
Guest Speaker: TBC
Film of nest recording and ringing.
Refreshments, raffle and news update.
Non-members are very welcome to join at the meeting and will be refunded their entrance fee.