Posted 15th May by Peter Byrne
The first of seven barn owl eggs has hatched on webcam, Dorset Wildlife Trust has announced
The chick hatched at Lorton Meadows Nature Reserve in Weymouth, in the early hours of Sunday morning (13th May).
The barn owls live in a specially designed box and spent the winter roosting there. They laid their first eggs on 9th April, and now have six eggs left to hatch.
Last year, five chicks successfully fledged after the barn owls took up residence, this was the most to have done so since the box had been initially installed in 2010.
Barn owls are declining on a national level, primarily due to a lack of good quality habitat. The Lorton Meadows nature reserve is a 75-hectare reserve which has a variety of habitats, including wildflower meadows, woodland and hedgerows, which offer prey for barn owls, voles and other small mammals.
Sally Welbourn, DWT Communications Officer, said: "It’s really wonderful to be able to share the lives of these barn owls with such a huge audience of people. We’re looking forward to seeing the barn owls raise their chicks and hoping to beat our record from last year and see all 7 chicks fledge. Their parents have a lot of work ahead of them though – owlets have huge appetites and can eat their own weight of food in a single night. Luckily the nature reserve at Lorton Meadows in Weymouth has good natural hunting habitat and feeding opportunities to hopefully sustain them."
Lead image left: Paul Williams / right: DWT