Owl population soaring thanks to drainage board’s bird box programme

Some of the new arrivals who have benefited from the drainage board's programme.

Some of the new arrivals who have benefited from the drainage board's programme. - Credit: Archant

A raptor ringing programme run for the Ely Group of Internal Draining Boards has been hailed an “outstanding success”.

Some of the new arrivals who have benefited from the drainage board's programme.

Some of the new arrivals who have benefited from the drainage board's programme. - Credit: Archant

Thanks to the mild winter and resulting abundance of food species, the 22 nest boxes installed over the boards’ pumping stations produced more than 30 barn owl chicks and several kestrel chicks this year alone.

Two pairs of barn owls even managed to produce two broods of chicks.

The project was launched with five boxes in 2011/12 but proved such a success that the number of boxes was increased to 22 by 2013.

The programme is overseen by Bob Sheppard of the Wildlife Conservation Partnership.

He said: “The Ely nest box scheme is already one of the most successful in the UK and will continue to flourish as the owls find the new boxes.

“This has been an exceptional year across the country and we look forward to next summer when there will be a large population of barn owls in Eastern England.”

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Engineer to the boards, Andrew Newton said: “The results will only reinforce the board’s commitment to our biodiversity plan and is proof that when suitable nest boxes are provided, then the barn owl population can flourish.”

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