Bowland Eagle Owls – Fantastic Success 2011

[singlepic id=308 w430 h=285 float=left]Despite the misgivings voiced by a number of experts, Bowland’s eagle owls are showing they are able to coexist along side other nesting raptors without any problems so far. This year the pair of owls located in the Dunsop valley have succeeded in raising their best brood ever despite residing in the same valley close to a pair of short-eared owls and a breeding pair of hen harriers.

At last advice not to visit any nest containing eggs or small chicks voiced by the North West Raptor Protection Group as long ago as 2009 appears to have been headed, resulting in four owlets being raised this year. As far as we are aware this number of eagle owl chicks is the largest brood of eagle owls ever raised in the UK so far. Well done everyone concerned, let’s just hope the present trend continues; particular thanks must go to William Murphy and William Hesketh, well done lads. This years results confirm what raptor workers have been saying for a number of years, there was never any justified requirement for the police or anyone else to mark the eggs in the first place. The question which should be asked now, did reliable intelligence ever exist supporting the view held by the police that egg collectors had been planning to steal the eggs, or was this a red herring to justify marking the eggs in the first place to reduce productivity?

This year the diet of the pair of eagle owls in the Dunsop valley has changed bringing with it a real possibility of future problems. Instead of relying upon rabbits for their main source of food, it seems the owls are now supplementing the prey they fed to their four chicks with rats captured from nearby farm buildings. This change in diet posses a potential for disaster, which if not carefully monitored could end in the deaths of not only any off-spring produced but also the deaths of both adult owls as well. Rat infestation on farms is usually carefully controlled with poison; poison and birds of prey do not mix and has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of birds of prey by accident or by design in the UK and continues to do so. Raptor Politics has already reported the deaths of eleven red kites last year from rat poison in just one area of Scotland. Should by accident any of the eagle owls on property owned by United Utilities succumb to an untimely death caused by rat poison, this will certainly result in a public relations disaster for this water utility company, which of course no one would like to see. We are confident this is less likely to happen now as the risks have been clearly identified in this case.[singlepic id=307 w272 h=154 float=right]

Eagle owls in Bowland and elsewhere in Northern England face far more serious threats to their survival of course, threats which continue to inhibit any potential for population expansion ever becoming a reality. As we have seen on the RSPB’s Geltsdale reserve in the North Pennines earlier this year, the pair of nesting eagle owls mysteriously disappeared just months after local gamekeepers discovered the locality of the nest in the region. In May this year three members of the North West Raptor Protection Group carried out a search of the Northern Pennines locating fresh indicators that at least one additional pair of eagle owls still existed in this vast remote upland region.

2 comments to Bowland Eagle Owls – Fantastic Success 2011

  • John Miles

    All is needed is any of these rats if poisoned to fall into the river below the nest which then runs into the foot holme intake and poison could be on its way to your door!!

  • paul williams

    Brennand farms rubbish dump next to Brennand river could do to be cleaned up, it is a disgraceful eyesore.