Owls are kings of the castle

Barn owls shown at their nesting site at Lindisfarne Castle
Published : 26 Oct 2017

A family of barn owls resting in a latrine was not what we expected to find during a major restoration project at Northumberland's Lindisfarne Castle.

Sheltering in an old latrine shoot in the castle wall, the nocturnal barn owls and their four fledging chicks are enjoying the peace of a 20-metre exclusion zone in the scaffolding. This means we can continue vital conservation work while protecting the owls - and their sleep.

Matthew Oates, our nature specialist, says, 'We need to allow nature to move in where it chooses, and give it the time and space it needs. This is not a problem, it’s something we appreciate and accept. As a conservation charity, we regularly adapt our work due to the opportunism of wildlife – it’s what we’re here for'.

A 2016 report collated by the Barn Owl Trust recorded over 6,000 potential barn owl nest sites and over 1,000 active nests across the UK. The report also suggested that climate change, intensively managed farmland and a lack of prey-rich habitats have contributed to low barn owl population density.

Lindisfarne Castle, a Grade 1 listed building situated on top of a volcanic mound, is currently undergoing a £3 million restoration project, and is closed to the public until spring 2018. The project includes repairing deteriorating stonework and pointing, re-waterproofing some of the windows and treating damp caused by the constant pressure of the elements. To find out more visit nationaltrust.org.uk/lindisfarne

We are working with tenants and partners to reverse the alarming decline in UK wildlife, aiming to restore 25,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat by 2025.