Breeding Barn Owl Pair Get New Spring Home

An ecology team working on the development of a new Dumfries and Galloway wind farm raced against time to make a new nesting box for a pair of barn owls and their efforts were quickly rewarded.

The breeding barn owl pair had been nesting in an old, damaged box at the site of the Twentyshilling Wind Farm, a development of nine 140m high turbines being constructed in Dumfries and Galloway.

Ecologists from environmental, planning and engineering consultancy Arcus have been monitoring the barn owls for two years as part of the company’s Ecological Clerk of Works role at the site, which is due to become operational later this year.

Barn owls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and Arcus’ specialist team developed a barn owl protection plan to safeguard the nesting area whilst allowing construction to continue.

Working together with civil engineering and building contractor RJ McLeod, they assessed the birds’ environment and are now delivering a plan to safeguard the habitat.

Arcus’ Consultant Ecologist James Allison said: “Barn owls usually choose to nest in cavities in trees, or undisturbed buildings such as barns, outbuildings and ruins. At this site they were nesting in a very old nest box which was literally falling apart.

“RJ McLeod’s Site Safety Manager Chris Cork was so inspired by watching the pair that he decided to build a new barn owl nest box using recycled materials.

“He raced against time get the box installed in time for the spring breeding season.

“Recently, we’ve spotted barn owls investigating the new box and hopefully it will be used for nesting in future. This will help conserve the local population of this much-loved species.”

Twentyshilling Wind Farm is one of several onshore windfarms for which Arcus provides technical services including ecology and water quality monitoring.

Other projects across the UK include solar plants, battery storage facilities, hydrogen schemes and gas to grid systems.

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