The warm early spring has meant that birds started nesting early this year. This was certainly evident from our annual barn owl box checks in Avonmouth where we found barn owl chicks at least 5 weeks earlier than recorded at the same site in 2016.  The Landmark Practice is involved in ongoing ecological monitoring and management at the Thrive Renewables wind turbine site in Avonmouth.  Barn owls had historically bred within the site but 2016 was the first time that they have attempted to breed since the wind turbines were erected in 2013/14.  We were delighted to record that they successfully reared two chicks.

This year, to our surprise, they had moved to a different owl box within the site, highlighting the importance of having multiple nest sites within the same territory. We found at least three owlets at approximately 7 weeks old, huddled together, appearing as an amalgamated large ball of owl fluff! This made it a little challenging to decipher how many owlets there were without handling them. In situations like this we avoid any activities which would necessitate handling the birds, such as ringing, so left them undisturbed, making an ‘informed’ guess that we had 3 owlets( although with the amount of fluff visible there could easier be be four!).

The check of two further barn owl boxes within the site also contained surprises, with a brooding stock dove (with two warm eggs) resident in one box and two stock dove chicks, not far from fledgling, in another.

The site check was accompanied by our client, Adrian Warman who, as Thrive Renewables’ Operations Manager, was keen to learn more about what is involved with our routine ecological monitoring work at the site.

Thrive Renewables will be holding a family wind farm open day at the site on Saturday 9th September 2017.  This will be a free event, although booking is required, and Landmark will be there on the day to lead walks and give more information about how the wind farm helps to support wildlife at the site.  All of the chicks will have fledged by then, helped by the current spell of settled weather, but there will be plenty to touch, see and listen to on the day.

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