The Rushcliffe Barn Owl Project

The Rushcliffe Barn Owl Project (RuBOP) was founded in 1996 by Clive James. Its aims are to conserve and increase the population of Barn Owls in Rushcliffe - 400 square kilometres of south Nottinghamshire, in England, by:

  • Increasing awareness of the needs of the Barn Owl through advice.
  • Encouraging sympathetic management of feeding and breeding habitats.
  • Providing artificial breeding sites in suitable locations.
  • Wherever possible, to increase scientific understanding of the species through licensed ringing and recording.

For the first few years there was a steep learning curve and activity mainly consisted of erecting boxes in suitable habitat. By 2000 around 50 boxes had been put up and this was the first year of success when two pairs fledged 4 chicks. This was also the year of a millennium initiative to put boxes along the Grantham Canal from Gamston to Hickling.

Howard Broughton joined the project around 1999 and as an ex-firefighter, he was able to bring some professionalism to the fieldwork through his skills with ladders and rope techniques. Subsequently he trained under the supervision of British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) qualified volunteers to handle and ring box-nesting species and now has the licences to inspect and ring the birds (both adult and young). Thus we are able to keep track of the birds' movements and gain information on how old they are.

After 2000, breeding success improved considerably year on year culminating with the tremendous year of 2007, when 154 chicks were raised from about 40 pairs.

There are now about 170 boxes throughout the borough and with the exception of 2013 when the weather took its toll, the project remains amongst the most successful in the country. In 2014 we beat the previous record of 2007, by ringing over 200 chicks from 50 pairs including the 900th for the project and we expect to reach the 1000 milestone in 2015.

In 2014, RuBOP ceased its direct association with Rushcliffe Borough Council and it is now part of the Nottinghamshire Birdwatchers - Nottinghamshire's ornithological society. This enables it to fall under the charitable status of "Notts Birders" and RuBOP now serves the nearby borough of Broxtowe as well. Broxtowe Barn Owl Project always used to have assistance from RuBOP by way of the 4-WD vehicle and Howard's ringing permit.

Many landowners are involved and they are happily consenting to the initiative. There are dozens of satisfied "customers" with their own personal Barn Owl "selfies" many of which appear on these pages and in the Photo Gallery.