New arrivals could prove to be most precious eggs this Easter

Robert Fuller

Robert Fuller

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New arrivals which are being closely monitored by a video link could prove to be the most precious eggs this Easter.

The six eggs, laid by a pair of barn owls in time for Easter, are now being carefully monitored via video link by a wildlife artist and barn owl conservationist Robert Fuller in Thixendale, near Malton.

According to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, which this month launched a campaign to save the last barn owls in Yorkshire, they could disappear from the county altogether if the current rate of decline continues.

Populations of barn owls across North Yorkshire are so low that each potential new bird is vital to their recovery.

In Thixendale, where barn owl numbers are still recovering from a drop of 80 per cent in 2011 and a disastrous breeding season in 2013, the six eggs represent real hope. The first egg is not expected to hatch until May Day.

Mr Fuller, a founding member of the Wolds Barn Owl Group, which monitors barn owl populations on the Wolds and patron of the World Owl Trust, has been putting out additional food for two breeding pairs since well before Christmas.

“Breeding success mainly comes down to a good food supply. Last year short-tailed field voles, which are the barn owls main source of food were in short supply and so barn owls had the worst breeding season since 1958. I’ve been feeding two pairs this year to help boost their chances and both have laid so it seems to have done the trick.”

“When they started looking for somewhere to nest earlier this spring, I was delighted,” he said.

“I knew that if they laid any eggs that they would be very important, so I rigged up a video link to watch what happened,” he said.

“It was so exciting when she laid just in time for Easter. And it is not over yet – there are signs that she may go on to lay additional eggs.”

“An average clutch size is usually 5-6 eggs and are not usually laid until the beginning of May. Now I will be watching to see how many of the eggs hatch successfully”

Mr Fuller also has live nest cams in nest boxes occupied by kestrels and this Easter he will be sharing live footage of the nests with visitors to his gallery at Fotherdale Farm, Thixendale. The kestrels are due to lay over the Easter weekend and can be seen live on screen at the artist’s gallery. Details at: www.robertefuller.com

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