An ornithological monitoring plan at Crystal Rig wind farm in the Scottish Borders has helped four pairs of barn owls breed at the site this year, according to consultancy Natural Power.
The ornithological monitoring plan outlines the monitoring requirements as detailed in the planning conditions attached to the wind farm consent. The plan initially sought to support long-eared owls through the installation of artificial nesting baskets, as the construction of the wind farm would see their natural forest nesting habitat felled.
Although ongoing monitoring work did not find any long-eared owls present at the site, barn owls were know to use the wind farm area and breed in nearby buildings. As a result, Natural Power installed three barn owl boxes in various locations around the site to promote the growth of the local population. The consultancy subsequently monitored how many boxes were occupied and recorded the breeding success.
In early, June a total of twelve hatchlings and nine eggs were recorded, with eight chicks still present at their nest sites in mid-July.
Pawel Plonczkier, environmental consultant at Natural Power, said: "Supporting the barn owls by provisioning artificial nest sites is vital not only for breeding birds but also for non-breeders and fledged youngsters that would use boxes for hiding and roosting – helping to increase their chance of survival."