Encountering barn owl “quartering” in search of prey across meadows is both a privilege and arguably one of the most captivating spectacles in our countryside.

At CRT’s Bere Marsh Farm in Dorset, at least one barn owl pair has continued to successfully breed on site every year since taking ownership of the farm in 2020. An iconic species associated with farming practices for millennia, in 2021 and thanks to public donations, the CRT renovated a dilapidated barn to provide shelter which we christened Barn Owl Barn or BOB for short.  

Abundance of rodent prey is also a critical factor in determining successful breeding season outcomes. At least 6 hours after swallowing rodents whole, owls regurgitate a pellet consisting of fur and bones which they are unable to digest.

Under the guidance of expert Susan Double, we have been continually collecting barn owl pellets for dissection to better understand the different rodent species present according to season and their abundance in the environs of Bere Marsh Farm.

As well as contributing to local school classroom visits in 2023, the CRT piloted a special citizen science community event for budding young conservationists at Bere Marsh Farm in October half term. Under the supervision of trained CRT Volunteers Karen, Alison and Peter and with equipment provided, the kids enjoyed a hands-on experience dissecting barn owl pellets to identify prey species from the ID handout sheets which they got to keep.

At first glance, differentiating between the bones of vole, mice and shrew species is not easy but everyone soon got their eye in. After the event, each tray was name tagged and sent to Susan Double for checking. Each participant will receive a personal e-mail confirming what species they discovered. 

Keep a look out for upcoming CRT events here: https://www.thecrt.co.uk/Pages/Events/ and if you are interested in a private group walk or talk by the CRT please don’t hesitate to get in contact here:  https://www.thecrt.co.uk/community-group-engagement   

Join Donate Volunteer News

 Published: 2nd November 2023