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Barn owls receive boost in Aylesbury Vale

Archived press release

Date Published: 12/08/10

Barn owl

Barn owl

Aylesbury Vale District Council and Vale Countryside Volunteers (VCV) have successfully secured over £75,000 funding to help save the barn owl.

Nearly £50,000 comes from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £19,500 from WREN, a non-profit making environmental body, and £7,600 from the Aylesbury Vale Community Chest to help ensure the continuation of the barn owl conservation project.

Barn owl populations are declining from the British countryside. This is partly due to reduced feeding opportunities (from changes in agricultural practices) and from a reduction in suitable nesting sites.

In response to this AVDC and VCV created a barn owl conservation project in the district. The scheme is run by enthusiastic volunteers who give up their time to erect and monitor nesting boxes, ring the birds, provide advice to farmers and landowners and talk to local communities about the need to take action to help the barn owl.

To date the volunteers have put up more than 350 barn owl boxes with the support of local farmers and landowners and after nearly ten years hard work by all concerned the efforts to return this enigmatic bird to the countryside of Aylesbury Vale appear to be bearing fruit.

Since 2008, when the volunteers were trained to ring the birds, 27 adult barn owls and 137 chicks (pulli) have been recorded. Two adult kestrels and 71 kestrel chicks have also been found.

Prisoners at HMP Spring Hill, near Grendon Underwood, have been making the nesting boxes for more than three years. Some prisoners are now working on site with volunteers on important nature conservation projects.

Lesley Davies, Green Spaces Team Manager, said: “This project demonstrates the commitment that the council has for the conservation of wildlife and habitats which is vital to ensure a healthy environment for us in Aylesbury Vale. The funding will make a real difference to barn owls, a species which is universally popular and which is in urgent need of conservation. There is so much that we need to do and the grant means that we can appoint a project officer to continue to work closely with our volunteers and farmers and make sure that our barn owls have a safe and secure future here.”

Anyone who would like to get involved in the barn owl project should call Dave Short on 01296 435134 or email dshort@aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk

Contact information

Contact:

Barn Owl project officer

Telephone:

01296 435134

Email:

greenspaces@aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk