Monitoring Tawny Owls

Over the last year or so, BTO has been running the BTO Owl Appeal with the aim of funding Project Owl – a set of interrelated research on the UK’sd. The appeal looks to fund a programme of work over the next few years, and provide long-term support to bird ringers and nest recorders.

Tawny Owl
Tawny Owl by Paul Buxton, Flickr

The first body of work from Project Owl is to conduct a national survey of tawny owls. Better information on how Tawny Owl populations are doing is obtained by carrying out periodic targeted surveys, with BTO previously carrying out national structured surveys for tawny owls in Britain in the autumns of 1989 and 2005.

By now carrying out comparable surveys that also take advantage of modern statistical techniques, BTO aims to get up-to-date measures of change in their occupancy and populations as well as habitat associations and geographical patterns.

By extending the survey to multiple seasons, BTO plans to also look at changes in their population over the course of the year and compare it to productivity/survival recorded in other BTO monitor projects like the Nest Record Scheme and Ringing Scheme. Through this, BTO hopes to learn more about our noisy but often mysterious neighbours.

Two separate surveys will be conducted to monitor our tawny owls.  The Tawny Owl Calling Survey takes place between September 2018 and March 2019, and the Tawny Owl Point Survey beginning shortly with the first survey period will run from 15 August to 15 October, 2018.

During this time, volunteers are asked to make one to three (ideally at least two) short evening visits to a chosen tetrad within as short a period as possible. The whole process is planned to be repeated between mid-February and mid-March 2019, and in autumn 2019/spring 2020.

We have 33 tetrad available to monitor in east Glamorgan.

More details, with options to take part in the Tawny Owl Point Survey (TOPS) are available online.



Short-eared Owls

The sight of a Short-eared Owl patrolling its hunting ground is surely a treat for any birder.  This species may be found hunting during the day, typically inhabiting our coastal marshes or rough ground inland, with some sites being home to several birds at a time.

In our region, it is a species of the winter months, when the UK population grows with the arrival of birds from the continent.  BirdTrack offers an insight into this influx, and this winter has seen good numbers arriving along the east coast during October.

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Short-eared Owls, by Jeff Slocombe

During the Bird Atlas period, 15 records were noted from 5 tetrads, with just one outside the main winter period. A passage bird at Nash Point.  Llanilid Opencast and Rumney Great Wharf are the best locations to see this species in East Glamorgan, though its possible to see birds in upland areas too.

You can help our understanding of bird movements, by recording your sightings in BirdTrack.