The Owl Prowl - Discontinued

Tawny Owl in Crofton Woods, 2014.  Photo by Heather Rowson. Tawny Owl in Crofton Woods, 2014.
Photo by Heather Rowson.

A pilot survey of tawny owls was carried out in autumn 2015 by the Bromley Biodiversity Partnership (of which the Orpington Field Club is a member). This species was chosen for the survey because in order to survive and breed successfully each pair of owls needs a territory with a good nesting site and a plentiful supply of food. Their presence therefore indicates the health of the surrounding environment because without good habitat which will support their prey (which includes wood mice, voles, small birds, worms and beetles), the tawny owls cannot survive.

59 records were submitted by 33 people from many parts of the borough.

Tawny owls were recorded in about 17 areas:

The results clearly show recording effort, with no records for several areas where owls are very likely to be present such as West Wickham and Keston Commons and hardly any records for areas of open countryside to the south and east of the borough where fewer people live. The almost complete lack of records from these areas and the peripheral wards of LBB to the east, south east, south and south west are also likely to be due in part to the fact that we were unable to communicate effectively with residents in these areas before the survey commenced.

Within the larger areas where recordings were submitted there are probably several tawny owl territories, for example within High Elms Country Park and along the Cudham Valley. In well populated areas, for example within Chislehurst, there is likely to be some duplication of records, but the large number of tawny owl records for Chislehurst and its surroundings (Chislehurst Common, Chislehurst Golf Course, Petts Wood, Scadbury Park, Elmstead and Marvels Wood, Sundridge Park and Chislehurst & Walden Road Recreation Ground, together with gardens between), may also reflect the importance of good connectivity between areas rich in biodiversity within an urban area. This requires further investigation.

For comparison purposes, the only main survey of Bromley's tawny owl population on record was published in 1977 as part of the Londonwide Bird Survey. That showed many tawny owls breeding all over the Borough including the outer wards, so clearly what is reported here is incomplete and our communications strategy has to be addressed before we can get a more accurate picture of the current tawny owl status in the Borough.

The tawny owl survey is now discontinued. Thank-you for your records and interest. All records have been sent to Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL).

The photograph on this page is copyright © Heather Rowson 2014.