[Photo: Bisham Barn Owl Group]
The Thames Water team in Bracknell are flying high after their conservation efforts were rewarded with four Barn Owl chicks hatching in early July.
With a number of operational improvements taking place at the company’s Berkshire sewage treatment works, the team have been hard at work since last winter, together with PeakGen Power, mitigating for a loss of habitat by installing two bespoke owl boxes.
Ian Crump, biodiversity field officer said: “I’m delighted to report that four owlets have hatched. It justifies all our efforts to protect this wonderful species. None of this would be possible without the support of the Bisham Barn Owl Group volunteers.”
Paul Warham of the Bisham Barn Owl Group said: “Successes like these make all the hard work involved in Barn Owl conservation so rewarding and the support of Thames Water has been key to this success.”
Between 1930 and 1980 it’s estimated that the Barn Owl population fell by 70%. Since then, the introduction of agri-environment schemes allied to the efforts of conservation groups has seen their numbers grow - so much so that the Barn Owl was recently moved from ‘amber’ to ‘green’ on the list of ‘UK Birds of Conservation Concern.’
Ian added: “The decline of Barn Owls has not been limited solely to human factors, but the loss of habitat and nesting sites are significant. At Thames Water, we’ll continue to deliver plans to conserve wildlife, balanced against our vital operational work.”
Where possible, Thames Water is encouraging grounds maintenance staff to employ a more relaxed grass mowing regime to allow for longer, rougher grasslands, which supports small mammals including field mice and shrews - a central part of the Barn Owl diet.
In addition to the new arrivals at Bracknell, pairs of Barn Owls have also been sighted at the company’s Slough, Crossness, Farmoor and Beckton sites.
For more information on the work of the Bisham Barn Owl group, please visit: bishambarnowlgroup.blogspot.co.uk