Over the past few years there has been a steady increase in both the variety and number of birds of prey. Some are relatively easy to photograph but others like the Hobby and Brown Owl have proved to be very difficult. One of the largest birds of prey has been the Marsh Harrier which has nested successfully in a small reed bed for the past nine years, in most years 2 young have flown.
Buzzards have become a regular feature and in most years they nest on the estate and some over winter. Twenty Five or so years ago a volunteer erected a good number of kestrel boxes and these are now the most common Bird of Prey seen all year round. Sparrow hawks are frequently seen ‘sliding‘ low over the hedges and alongside woodland edges in their search for a meal.
Owls are a regular feature with three pairs of Barn Owls nesting successfully on site, two pairs in Owl Boxes and the other in a hole in a very old Oak tree. This number is unlikely to increase as their feeding range is up to 2000 metres in any one direction. The boxes are checked by a licence holder and this year as far as we know were all successful.
The winter of 2011/12 saw an influx of Short Eared Owls, this was probably due to a ‘bumper’ breeding year for short tailed voles. The Estate is converting to organic farming and this necessitated planting clover and leaving it in place for two years, under this overhead cover and in undisturbed ground the voles were able to multiply resulting in them providing a winter feast for the Owls. The field has now been ploughed up and whilst there have been one or two birds its been nothing like the 20 or so, seen last year.
Little Owls also nest on the estate and can often be seen during the daylight hours.
Brown owls have been seen but there’s no information on numbers or their breeding success.
Although not yet nesting on the Estate, Red Kites regularly visit with some being very tame and inquisitive.