The Owl Prowl Continues!

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.

We therefore propose to continue the tawny owl survey in 2016, concentrating on parts of the borough currently under-recorded. These include:

However, we would be grateful for any records, so please continue to listen for owls particularly in February and March during courtship and in September-October when they are establishing their territories, and send your records in via the OFC website as before. Good places to listen for owls are alongside the edge of woodlands or near parks and gardens with trees, especially those which have possible nesting holes. Listen carefully because sometimes you can hear one owl hooting and another 'replying'.

If you are lucky enough to hear an owl hooting, please record your results below ...


Please complete as much of this as you can, and then click the "send" box at the bottom.

Your name:   

Your contact details (email address if possible):
Where did you hear the owl(s): e.g. garden, named road, named park, recreation ground, nature reserve, woodland or area of countryside such as the Cudham Valley:
Please give a grid reference, or easting & northing, or postcode:
On what date did you hear the owl?
At what time (approximately) did you
hear the owl?
How many owls did you hear?

Did you come across any other owl species?
Any other comments:

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