The Little Owl in Britain

Little Owls are amazing birds. They’re only eight inches tall, yet they ooze so much personality. Their quirky behaviours are utterly charming and a sheer joy to watch. Many people are surprised to learn that this much loved owl is not native. Landowners successfully introduced the Little Owl into England during the 1880s; these were brought over from mainland Europe to control ‘garden pests’. After its initial and rapid spread across England and Wales, the Little Owl started to decline from the late 1930s. More recently, this decline has accelerated, with numbers down by 64% in 25 years.

The Little Owl has declined across parts of its native range too, and is a Species of European Conservation Concern. This decline has been linked with agricultural intensification, urbanisation, traffic collisions, predation by mammals and raptors, and low juvenile survival rates. We’re unsure why the Little Owl is declining here, but it’s likely to be for a combination of reasons.

Continue reading

Flight of the Swans – the big Flight prep

Sacha over forest

There is nothing so magical as flight. If you’ve ever been asked what your preferred superpower would be, I bet it was high on your list. In September I will summon my inner superhero and begin the first ever attempt to follow the migration of Bewick’s swans from the air, flying 7,000km from the Russian Arctic back to Gloucestershire.

Unfortunately, I won’t have superpowers on my side. Instead I will be flying a paramotor – basically I will be dangling from a wing of fabric, with a propeller strapped to my back.

Continue reading