Pakenham Barn Owls

Pakenham Barn Owls

This was an article I wrote for the ‘new look’ Pakenham parish magazine in January 2013 when Chris Carroll- Davies took over from Holly Weaver as Editor.

 “I have been asked by our new Editor to do a little write-up about the wildlife in our village. I hope that other wildlife watchers will also contribute so that it becomes a regular feature in the new parish magazine. We are so lucky in Pakenham to have so much wildlife and beautiful landscape all around us. As I write, we are covered with a blanket of snow and freezing temperatures and more snow on the way for the weekend we are told. Have been busy topping up the bird feeders and waterers every day and the wild birds are certainly consuming more than usual. Fat balls are particular favourites by the smaller birds, including long-tailed tits to keep up their energy levels in the cold conditions.  The landscape around Grimstone End is so beautiful at the moment but the wildlife must be finding it very hard to find food and keep warm, especially our beloved barn owls – who’s main diet is small rodents, voles, mices etc. which they won’t be able to access if we get a thick covering of snow. At least with all the boxes erected in the village, they have somewhere warm and cosy to roost in. Have just spotted a mistle thrush around the bird feeders so those Bramley apples that I stored in the shed will come in handy!
I have been a volunteer for the watermill on and off for many years and for the last three years, along with a couple of other volunteers we have been managing what used to be called the picnic area to encourage and manage it for the wildlife. The bird feeders are topped up every week and we placed small corrugated sheeting around the area to encourage slow worms. Last year in the early Spring, we were delighted to see that two of the sheets had a pair of slow worms underneath basking in the warmth of the sunshine.  A little later on in the Summer months we found four of them, two smaller ones! They are also used by small voles, mice and toads. It just goes to show that if you create the right conditions and make little wildlife corridors, they will eventually move in and hopefully raise a family!
The Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Community Barn Owl Project has been given a substantial grant from Sita Trust to secure 100 free barn owl nest boxes to be erected at community sites in Mid and West Suffolk. Boxes must be in place by October 2013. If you know of a community or wildlife project in a village nearby, please let them know. The sites could be village greens, community woodlands, village halls, churchyards, school greens which overlook barn owl habitat. Good habitat for barn owls are open grassland, marsh, meadow, river corridors or arable field margins. For more info, please get in contact with Oka Last at the Trust on oka.last@suffolkwildlifetrust.org or go to the SWT website http://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org and type in Free Community Barn Owl Boxes in the search box.
Happy wildlife watching!
Sandy Jackson
Grimstone End”