Two new bird study groups have been set up within the county recently. The first is the Gloucestershire Barn Owl Monitoring Programme, which seeks to provide advice and support for Barn Owl conservation. This project will liaise primarily with landowners and farmers, as Barn Owls have become so dependent on nest-boxes and the land on which they are sited. Sightings are crucial, though – if you don’t know where the owls are, you can’t put up nest-boxes or ring the birds.
The other group is the Gloucestershire Raptor Monitoring Group. This group will study a mixture of raptor species (suggestions welcome) and may also include Ravens, whose lifestyle and survey methods have similarities with raptors, and other owls. These species are far less popular with landowners – for understandable reasons – and the emphasis will be on birders logging sightings, breeding activity and behaviour.
The Gloucestershire Raptor Monitoring Group held its first meeting last Saturday at St Peter’s High School, Gloucester (a big thank-you for providing the facilities for free!). There were over 50 people there of all levels of skill and experience, but united in enthusiasm. The species picked out for further study at the moment are: Peregrine, helped by a very entertaining account of those at Symonds Yat by Steve Watson; Kestrel, whose numbers here have perked up this summer (but for how long?); Red Kite, which have now bred in the county for the first time in 150 years; and Goshawk, a fair number of which have been ringed due to Rob Husbands’ climbing ability and Schedule 1 licence.