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:
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.
I do get asked a lot about where I buy my low priced bird boxes from and generally I find these at Argos garden centre stores around the area. Most times the sizes are too small for the wooden bird boxes but sometimes you can find some quite large ones. So for the best prices at Argos you can use this website which keeps you updated on the best deals. If you don't get the cheapest prices at Argos then there is always B&Q or Wickes too.
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 among 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 2016.
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.
In July 2016, RuBOP hit its milestone of ringing its 1,000th chick and here is the news item from : East Midlands Today from 13th July.