20 June 2012As part of the first year unit ‘Diversity of Life’, students complete a practical class with Gareth Jones identifying prey remains in barn owl pellets. The pellets are supplied by a Bristol-based environmental consultancy, The Landmark Practice, who have been installing nest boxes for barn owls and monitoring their diets since 2004. The data analysed by students provides valuable information on the prey eaten by the owls, and this year’s findings are summarised on the Landmark Practice’s website. Based on the students’ findings, The Practice reports that ‘our conservation work at Bleadon is certainly favouring the field vole, which is such an important small mammal when it comes to supporting barn owls. Of equal significance though is that water shrew and harvest mouse are turning up as owl prey items. These are much less common and are infrequently recorded at this site, so the study of the pellets is helping to inform what species are becoming established on the ecologically managed land. Other species found in pellets (from previous years) include water vole and weasel!’.