With support from the Wildlife Conservation Partnership, our conservation efforts have led to higher-than-average barn owl numbers at our Cambridgeshire property

We have been working with leading barn owl researcher and conservationist, Colin Shawyer, at our flagship farm Lark Rise for almost 30 years. With his expertise and guidance, we have restored areas of the farm into habitats for the native species.

Colin explains: “We’ve concentrated on creating an environment for the birds to live and breed, with a focus on having enough nesting sites and sufficient rough-grassland habitat for their prey, such as voles and other small mammals to thrive. This effort has led to three breeding pairs living on the 450-acre arable farm, with 2019 successfully producing chicks from two of the pairs.”

Having three breeding pairs in this area is higher than the national average, which is thanks to the prey-rich habitat on Lark Rise and the number of owl-nest boxes available for the birds. The arrival of the chicks in 2019 is especially celebrated, after a poor breeding season in 2018. That year's poor weather conditions across the UK meant that birds struggled to breed and their chicks to survive. At Lark Rise, no chicks were successfully reared, and we were concerned this would continue into this year, but thankfully the 2019 season saw much better breeding success.

Colin says warm weather during rearing and plentiful prey for feed has meant the breeding pairs at Lark Rise have successfully reared chicks this year.

“The efforts by CRT to create a habitat in which wildlife can thrive alongside a successful arable farm really showcases Lark Rise as the blueprint for the future of farming."

The picture shows fully licensed expert Colin Shawyer undertaking owl ringing, which provides important information for owl conservation work, just as it does for all other birds.

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