The East Anglian Nest Box Project was established by the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary in 2000. Since then - courtesy of the donations of a growing number of supporters - we have gradually surveyed and then built, sited, erected and monitored a network of wild owl nesting boxes to replace the diminishing number of derelict barns, outbuildings and natural nesting cavities favoured by owls and other birds of prey in the region.
At the same time we have published a range of literature to enhance general awareness of the important need for habitat conservation, and have been available to consult with and advise the regional agricultural community on matters pertaining to the hedgerow and headland retention required to sustain food sources for endangered raptor species.
Altogether this has proved a substantially worthwhile exercise to date, so we are very pleased to now be amalgamating our efforts with another regional group - The Thornham Owl Project - in order to strengthen, consolidate & extend this important work.
The Thornham Owl Project was started in 1997 with the aim of achieving a very similar set of objectives, especially recognising that the advent of Dutch Elm disease coupled with the damage caused by severe gales in the 1960s & '70s had destroyed a great many of the natural cavity nesting sites favoured particularly by endangered Barn Owls in the flatlands of East Anglia.
The volunteer group - comprising a number of local artists - nurtured their scheme for buying the materials, organising the build of, and then siting and monitoring the extensive network of boxes they erected through the Upper Waveney and on the Thornham and Gawdy Hall Estates. Aided by the generous provision of tools, facilities and access to off-road transport by Mid Suffolk District Council, the scheme has flourished over the years to the point where 250 boxes have been erected, a programme of seasonal repairing and cleaning is maintained, and details of box occupation, breeding successes and ringing are methodically recorded.
But as the modern age of austerity has dawned, so a shadow has been cast across the survival of the Thornham Owl Project as local authorities have been forced to review and trim their budgets and curtail many of the facilities on which the project has been dependent. At this point, it seemed logical that our two organisations pooled resources in order to effect to continuance of both our programmes as a single venture, which is now under way. S.O.S. is providing the vehicles, tools, materials and workshop facilities that we, together with the two principals of the Thornham Owl Project, Roger Buxton and Kevin Boyce, will continue to factor into a hands-on project which should benefit wildlife in general and owls in particular over the years to come.