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28 March 2013

Barn Owl documentary, RTE1, next Tuesday

Colin, with a Barn Owl chick, during filming in June of last year, at a Duhallow nest site.

Here's one for the diary – Tuesday 2nd April 2013, on RTE 1 television at 7pm – Wildlife documentary maker, Colin Stafford-Johnson, hosts a half hour long documentary on Barn Owls. Most of the filming was carried out in Duhallow and Kerry in summer 2012. The team followed John Lusby, Michael O'Clery and Brin McDonald as they carried out research and fieldwork during the Duhallow Raptor Conservation Project, and features some amazing footage of Barn Owl nests at two derelict cottages in Kerry and a tree nest in a family's back garden in Cork.

The crew filming John Lusby at a nest site in Co. Kerry. The chicks were down the chimney of the derelict cottage.

21 March 2013

Duhallow Report, 2012 now available

The Duhallow Raptor Conservation Project Report, 2012 is now available for free to download. It shows the results from last years project on Raptors in Duhallow, including all the fieldwork, nest box and publicity aspects to the work, many of which you will have seen illustrated on this blog.

Some of the highlights are:

A survey of suitable buildings for Barn Owls highlighted a site availability of 14.6 suitable buildings per 100km2 (range: 8 – 26), and located seven nest sites and 13 roost sites.

A density of 2.6 breeding pairs of Barn Owl per 100km2 was recorded, which is higher than similar findings elsewhere in the country. 

An innovative playback and acoustic survey was also employed for Long-eared Owl for the first time in Ireland. A total of 6 breeding sites and 7 active territories were confirmed, representing a minimum density of 4.3 Long-eared Owl territories per 100km2.

A breeding success of 66.6% was recorded at six known breeding attempts for Long-eared Owl with an average brood size of 2.25 young per brood. 

There were 22 Barn Owl nest boxes in place in Duhallow by the end of 2012, representing one of the highest densities of boxes in the country. 

Ten Kestrel nest boxes were installed at suitable sites which marked one of the first formal nest box schemes for this species.

An awareness campaign promoted  the 2012 project and its objectives, and the work was publicised through posters (136), and a wide range of events and presentations (12), articles in newspapers and magazines (9), and features on websites (2). This blog,, was also set up to make the project accessible to the general public, and received over 13,000 page views from over 20 countries by December 2012.

To view the lower resolution PDF, see it on this page HERE.
To download the full report, go to this page HERE. (Opens a new window, on, where you can view and download the higher resolution file. File size is 17Mb).

8 March 2013

Snapshot of the 2012 season

The findings from our fieldwork in Duhallow in 2012 is available to read online, or download (see the post below).

A quick summary of the findings...

15 Barn Owl nest boxes were in place for the 2012 breeding season. Four of these were used as roosts, two as nests. (a 40% uptake).

13 sites were recorded as active during survey work in 2011 and nine of these were still active in 2012. Four were abandoned.

12 new Barn Owl nest sites and 14 roosts were discovered in Duhallow during fieldwork in 2012 – a total of 35 active sites. 20 were nests.

Of the 20 nests, the most common sites were derelict farm houses (9), trees (4), castles (2), farm buildings (2) and one each in a modern unoccupied dwelling, an occupied dwelling and a ruined creamery.

The most common nest site type was roof spaces (7), chimneys (6), cavities in trees (4), nest boxes (2) and one in a water tank.

13 (65% of) nests produced young, lower than the national average.

Of 12 sites monitored, the average number of chicks per nest was 2.16, similar to the national average.

The nest box scheme and particularly the Survey highlight Duhallow to be of national significance for the Barn Owl population, holding one of the highest densities per surface area recorded in Ireland. 

The results of the monitoring work also showed the vulnerability of the local population and the necessity for continued and strategic monitoring as well as further implementation of effective conservation measures to help maintain the status of the Barn Owl in Duhallow. 

Download the full version, below.

Download the Duhallow Barn Owl Report, 2012

The findings of the 2012 Duhallow Raptor Conservation Project 2012 are now available. Download and read the PDF of 'The ecology and conservation of the Barn Owl in Duhallow – Duhallow Barn Owl Project. 2012, Final Report.'
You can view it on the page here, or hit the 'Download' button below to download it to your hard drive. It's only 350Kb and 17 pages.

6 March 2013

Owls for egrets

Part of the Duhallow Raptor Conservation Project involves installing ten Long-eared Owl nest baskets into suitable trees in Duhallow. These mimic the crows nests (usually Hooded Crow) in which the owls usually nest, and preliminary trials in Galway have already proved successful. However, the same techniques have just been used in Co. Kerry, in an experiment to see if Little Egrets might also take to the nest baskets. 

An ordinary metal garden hanging basket was used, and branches and twigs were interwoven to create a shallow, saucer-shaped nest. This is about the size of a normal Little Egret nest.

Three baskets were then placed high in an area of conifers overlooking an estuary. The site has been chosen as not only is it in a private garden (and is thus relatively secure), but has had up to ten Little Egrets roosting in these very trees over the past two winters. While Little Egrets would normally build their own nest, they won't be able to avoid seeing these three ready-made nest baskets, and hopefully they will decide that this is, after all, a perfect place to nest. Let the experiment begin...