Surveys and counts, what is about? Archive

Unless plants, animals and insects are counted there is no accurate information on their populations. Wildlife numbers change year to year depending on weather, changes in farming and other environmental issues,

I saw the importance of counting when i took part in the British Trust for Ornithology Bird Atlas, Currently I help with the Suffolk Barn Owl project, farm bird counts and moth counts.

Indentifying the moths in the trap at Halls farm

Norton Moths

Standing in the orchard at Halls farm on warm summer evening butterflies give way to many more moths as the sun sets. Some of these moths are big and colourful many more are small fast and very difficult to identify especially as it gets dark.

5 spot Burnet moth in Halls farm orchard

5 spot Burnet moth in Halls farm orchard

There are about 2500 species of moths in the UK, 900 of these are the bigger or macro moths many of which are large and beautiful. All these different moths need different habitats to live in and plants to feed on. The number of different species and total count of moths found give a good a good indication of the health and diversity of a local environment.

Because most moths come out at night they are hard to see. However, most moths are attracted by light, especially “blue light’. This summer we have running a moth trap at Halls and LLH farms Norton to record the moths living here.

 

Indentifying the moths in the trap at Halls farm

Indentifying the moths in the trap at Halls farm

We run the trap over night and the following morning identify the macro moths caught and the number of each species. On this page I will try to, post the recording we make through the summer. The trap is run once or twice a week and the moths released after they have been recorded. The moths settle on egg boxes in the trap and are usually quiet early morning before the sun warms them up.

 

Moths in the trap early July

Moths in the trap early July

Depending on how keen we get we will try to run the trap in different parts of the farms to get an overall picture of the moths living on the farms.

 

Norton Barn owls, 2016 a good breeding year?

Barn owl picking up vole from right foot. Cloudy June evening. Tyto alba

Barn owl picking up vole from right foot. Cloudy June evening. Tyto alb

Are the Norton Barn owls having a successful nesting season? The short answer is yes, we have checked over half the know nest site at Little Haugh and Halls farms and so far found six breeding pairs.

 

20% of the land on the farms is managed for wildlife as well as for the commercial game bird shoot. The wide rough field verges, woodland and grassland are all ideal for hunting Barn owls. However, lack of nest sites was a problem that we tackled in autumn 2014 by erecting 15 new boxes, this summer 10 of the new nest boxes show signs of Barn owl use and 3 have been used by Tawny owls.

Barn Owl young in new Barn owl box

Barn Owl young in new Barn owl box

Over the next few days we will be checking the older nest boxes on the farms. These boxes are higher up and more difficult to see into, I tend to put them off to last but, I will check them and let you know if we find any more breeding pairs.

 

The 2 broods in the photos have only two young owls. This may be due to the cold wet spring and that the adult Barn owls are young and inexperienced. However, the adults are now catching voles and mice in good numbers and the boxes are quite smelly from the voles waiting to be eaten!

Barn owl young in new Barn owl box 2nd brood

Barn owl young in new Barn owl box 2nd brood

 

The longest established Barn owl nest site on the farms is deep inside the Halls farm Straw barn. In the last few days Steve Honeywood has seen 4 young owls being fed on top of one of the bales. It will not be long before the young owls leave and it is probable that this pair will have a second brood, we will keep watching.

Barn owls boxes, good for hornets too

Barn owls boxes, good for hornets too