Of the 329 parishes in Somerset only 40 are yet to request their free barn owl box from the Somerset Wildlife Trust as part of the Community Barn Owl Project, which aims to encourage breeding in this iconic species. As the project enters its final year, local support is more important than ever and the Trust is keen to hear from those parishes which have not yet put up a nest box.
Beau the barn owl visits schools
What began as a conservation initiative in spring 2012 evolved into a recovery project following a devastating breeding year in 2013, but the mission remains the same: to increase barn owl numbers by providing nest sites and improving their hunting habitats. The Trust is working with volunteers to keep track of the barn owl population, and is arranging visits to schools across Somerset to educate young conservationists - sometimes accompanied by Beau the barn owl.
Chris Sperring, MBE, Conservation Officer Hawk and Owl Trust and Vice President of Somerset Wildlife Trust, said: “Beau and I have been very busy meeting the people of Somerset as part of the project, and it would be great to get boxes into the remaining 40 parishes. With farm buildings being converted into housing and ancient trees disappearing rapidly, up to 80 per cent of barn owls now nest in man-made boxes, so they really need our help.”
Parishes without boxes
Ashcott, Barwick, Bratton Seymour, Brympton, Carhampton, Chilton Polden, Combe Florey, Comeytrowe, Corfe, Crewkerne, Cricket St Thomas, Dunster, Durleigh, East Coker, Elworthy, Exmoor, Exton, Goathurst, Hatch Beauchamp, Holton, Ilminster, Isle Abbotts, Langport, Maperton, Milborne Port, North Barrow, Oar, Puckington, Puriton, Pylle, Sampford Brett, Seavington St Michael, Shepton Beauchamp, Stringston, Watchet, Wellington, West Camel, Williton, Woolavington, Yeovil, Yeovil Without.
Apply on the Trust website
The boxes need to be placed near rough grassland to allow the owls to hunt their favourite prey, field voles, and advice on land management is provided. To apply for a nest box please visit the Somerset Wildlife Trust website and complete your details. You will then be contacted by Chris to discuss the suitability of the location and arrange a visit.
The three-year Somerset Community Barn Owl Project is funded by Viridor Credits Environmental Company; a charity that distributes money from the Landfill Communities Fund, and is a collaboration with the Hawk and Owl Trust; a national charity dedicated to conserving wild birds of prey and owls in their habitats.