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News Items

January 13, 2021
Latest News Laura Wharton

Promising Activity Reported at Bath Peregrine Site

Hamish Smith has reported some promising activity at the Bath Peregrine site at St. Johns. Could this be a potential pairing for Bath’s 2021 season? St.Johns peering over the local rugby ground in Bath. I’ve been following the dynamic at the church since the…
January 12, 2021
Latest News Laura Wharton

Shapwick Moor Update

Simon Beard kindly updates the Hawk and Owl Trust on the Winter period so far at the Shapwick Reserve. Even with the various lockdowns, life still continues at Shapwick Moor. Our grazing regime means that the last of the Red Devon cattle were removed from our…
December 24, 2020
Latest News Super User

Sculthorpe Reserve - Closed

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve Further to the Government announcement Norfolk will be moved into tier 4. Therefore, we are sorry, but we have decided not to open the Sculthorpe Reserve over the Christmas period and will remain closed to the public until…

Welcoming back the Ghost of the Moor

Dec 20, 2020 379
Welcoming back the ghost of the moor Written by Shaila Rao, Ecologist…

The Hen Harrier Satellite Tagging Project: Case study - Sorrel

Dec 16, 2020 858
Looking back on Hen Harrier Sorrel’s journeying to dateAuthor: Hamish Smith As the Hawk…

A year in the life at Sculthorpe Moor

Dec 09, 2020 454
A year in the life of the Hawk and Owl Trusts Nature Reserve at Sculthorpe Moor in…

Great Progress on New Sculthorpe Walkway

Dec 09, 2020 553
Great Progress on New Sculthorpe WalkwayThe new walkway joins onto the Woodland Loop…

Sculthorpe Reserve Winter Opening Times 2020

Dec 08, 2020 406
Winter Opening Times Sculthorpe Reserve Winter and Spring Opening Times 2020 /2021 The…

Sculthorpe is Open! 8/12/20

Dec 08, 2020 399
Our Sculthorpe Reserve is open today! 8/12/20 We're happy to inform you that the reserve…

Lockdown 2 Update from Sculthorpe Moor (week 4)

Dec 02, 2020 584
Our fourth and final Lockdown 2 update from Sculthorpe Moor brings news of reopening,…

Hawk and Owl Trust Christmas Gift Guide

Dec 02, 2020 1162
Hawk and Owl Trust Christmas Gift Guide This year there are plenty of options to choose…

Chris Sperring MBE goes live with Sculthorpe's Tawny Owls

Dec 01, 2020 341
Chris Sperring MBE and Tawny Owls Live! Chris discusses Tawny Owls via Zoom with live…

Lockdown 2 Update from Sculthorpe Moor (week 3)

Nov 24, 2020 450
Walking the boardwalks today volunteers were spotted working on the new bridge that will…

Tawny Owl surveys on the Fowey Estuary – October 2020

Image snapshot from the Hawk & Owl Trust Live Tawny Owl cam at Sculthorpe Moor

Chris Sperring MBE recently led a Tawny Owl survey on the Fowey Estuary, East Cornwall. The findings reveal a high density of this species thrives in this area. The way the survey was carried out and the importance of surveys like this is essential reading for keen conservationists and naturalists alike!

Although common, Tawny Owls are a protected species - protected under the Wildlife and Countryside act 1981, and afforded an amber listing under the Birds Of Conversation Concern (BCC) list for the UK. Meaning that they are of medium conservation concern. Surveying the birds ensures that they continue to be identified within an area, monitored and as a result are protected further.

In order to carry out the survey Chris used his voice to mimic the owl calls, and he had to carry out the survey at times when Tawny Owls would be most receptive to these sounds. Times of day and time of year have a huge impact on how accurate the results of a survey are.

At this transitional time of the year between Autumn and Winter, Tawny Owls are at their most vocal. The young Spring owls are looking to ‘move out’ from their parental areas and are searching for unoccupied territories to claim as their own. Adults will frequently call during this time to declare their presence to any youngsters hoping to find a vacant territory.  By imitating Tawny Owl calls we can induce resident owls to call, thinking they are defending their territory from potential intruders.

Chris began these survey sessions at, or shortly after, dusk on three consecutive October evenings. These being the perfect times for detecting owl activity.  Although showery on these days Chris timed the sessions to avoid the rain. Owls tend to be less vocal when it is raining and Chris did not want to encourage any owls to move around in wet weather as this is something that they usually avoid. 

Chris stated that this calling method along with its timing works particularly well with this species and gives us a clear idea of how many individuals (and pairs) are holding territory and where their ranges are.

The results from his findings are eye-opening reading, note that we are unable to detail precise locations. What we can say is that these findings are from Chris Sperring’s Tawny Owl survey in the Trebant Valley, East Cornwall:


Trebant Valley - undisclosed areas:

1 pair in woodland

1 pair in woodland

1 pair on the edge of woodland

1 pair in other area

1 pair in other area

1 male in other area

Fowey - undisclosed local woodland:

1 pair in other area

1 pair calling in woodland

1 pair in other area

1 male in other area

The overall conclusion of Chris’ survey is that The Fowey Estuary is an area rich in wildlife, containing diverse habitats including mature copses which are clearly of high importance to Tawny Owls.  As top predators, Tawny Owls are also indicator species as to the health of the ecosystem in which it lives.  So, the high density of Tawny Owls in this area is clearly a reflection of a well-functioning, biodiverse environment.

As the Tawny Owl has been declining nationally for some time Chris believes that the thriving population in the Trebant Valley is worth studying further.  Perhaps with annual surveys and the provision of nesting boxes in order to study population changes, distribution of young and diet.

Chris’ final thoughts on the survey findings is that strong populations such as the one discovered in this area are of vital importance as they feed and repopulate surrounding areas. This will become ever-more important if our wildlife is to ever recover from the decades of severe decline that has suffered at the direct hands of human pressures on the environment.


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