Barn owl numbers boosted at Welney wetland centre

A barn owl takes flight. Picture: Simon Stirrup

A barn owl takes flight. Picture: Simon Stirrup - Credit: Archant

Breeding barn owls have enjoyed a bumper year according to experts at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, in Welney.

A barn owl is mobbed by a kestrel at Welney. Picture: Ian Hull.

A barn owl is mobbed by a kestrel at Welney. Picture: Ian Hull. - Credit: Archant

The trust says that four pairs of owls successfully raised broods in the area around Welney last year, with plenty of birds to see this year as a result.

Louise Clewley, warden at Welney, said: “The cold weather and longer nights at this time of year result in more daytime sightings of barn owls.

“They can be out as late as 10 o’clock in the morning, when they are finishing their night’s hunting and returning to their roosts. Some of the owls like to get a head start on the competition and are leaving their roosts as early as 2 o’clock.

“A successful breeding season last summer means that there are more opportunities to see these beautiful birds of prey. Four pairs of barn owls bred in the area local to Welney, at least two of these pairs managed to raise three broods of young. Visitors to the area are regularly seeing between six to eight individual owls.

“These graceful birds of prey, quietly concentrating on catching their next meal, often don’t notice us watching them. The open landscape and vantage points such as the bridge mean that these birds are easy to spot.”

The barn owls predominantly feed on small mammals such as voles, mice and shrews. A good year for the voles has had the knock-on effect of plentiful food for the local owls.

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