Barn Owls
Records show that barn owls had never successfully bred at Alton Water since the reservoir had been constructed in the mid 1970’s. They were, however, present close by and used to breed in an old ash tree in a neighbouring field before it was blown down in a storm over ten years ago.This was quite surprising as the habitat appeared favourable with plenty of strips of rough grassland for the birds to hunt for their prey.
With the help and support of the Hawk and Owl Trust five nest boxes were erected at various points.It wasn’t long before a pair moved into one of the boxes and three young successfully fledged in 2004.Although the pair returned the following spring they decided something wasn’t quite right and decided to move on.
Efforts are currently being made to investigate where they might have gone and several additional nest boxes have been erected on adjoining land in case they preferred these areas. Investigations have been concentrated on increasing the local small mammal population by operating artificial feeding stations and trying to link habitat management regimes with small mammal activity levels.