I paid an amazing visit to the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, whose volunteers are restoring our barn owl population across Cleveland. From just two breeding pairs of these magnificent birds a few years ago, we are now up to 35.
The team showed me the special boxes they are installing for nesting (you can see one at the top of our photo). With the removal of the old crumbling trees and barns that barn owls used to seek out, these are essential habitats.
Watching barn owls also serves as a way of monitoring other populations. Firmly AFTER lunch, we broke down regurgitated owl pellets and I was shown the skulls of voles, mice and shrews that the owls prey on. From these, it's been found that harvest mice are still present in our area, despite being thought to have vanished.
You can find out more about the Trust and their work at: https://www.teeswildlife.org and I thoroughly recommend a visit to their centre at Boosbeck!