Scientific: Tyto alba

Cymraeg: Tylluan Wen

A local resident breeding species which has declined due to habitat loss and pesticides.

1982
Reported from eleven localities. Singles found dead during January cold spell at Mynydd Cerrig and Lliedi Reservoirs. 1 pair known to have bred at Llwynhendy, pair present, Pembrey.

1983
Reported from 14 localities. 1 found dead, Felinfoel, Jan.

1984
Sighted at 18 localities, mainly in the South-east and Llandeilo areas.

1985
Sighted at 10 localities, as above. 1 found dead, Pont Abraham, 19 February.

1986
Records from 11 areas, mainly in South-east of county.

1987
Nested, Pentregwenlais (nest with 5 eggs), Salem and Pontyberem (2/3 pairs). Present b.s., Laugharne, Pendine Burrows, Peniel, Nantgaredig and Llandovery. 1 picked up weak, Cwmann, January taken to New Quay Bird Hospital; 1, killed near Brechfa, March.

1988
Nested Llandysilio, Pontyates, Pontyberem and Llandybie present b.s., Dryslwyn, Llangadog, Cilycwm, Llandawke, Nantgaredig and St.Clears.

1989
Nested Pembrey, Derwydd, Llanfynydd, Capel Isaac, Llangathen, Llanddeusant, Llangadog, Dryslwyn, Capel Hendre, Caerbryn and Henllan, present breeding season, Llangennech, Llwynhendy, Johnstown, Laugharne, Blaenau, Gwynfe, Ffairfach and Llandovery.

1990
BTO Atlas Survey has confirmed breeding or seen in all the county’s 10km squares except SN22 (Llanboidy) and SN43 (Pencader). One seen taking frogs from road on a rainy night, Dryslwyn, February.

1991
Breeding season sightings and pairs at Glyn Abbey, Ferryside, Tycroes, Pinged and Halfway, Llandovery.

1992
Confirmed breeding at the following localities: Llandybie, Llangathen, Ffarmers, Cae’r Bryn, Brechfa, Taliaris, Pendine and Glanaman.

Most Barn Owls in Carmarthenshire tend to favour disused buildings, nest boxes in barns and even chimneys in houses in comparatively ‘urban’ locations. One remarkable site was in a derelict aircraft fuselage at the Ministry of Defence Establishment at Pendine, where 4 young were successfully fledged. The plane has since been removed but it is hoped that the birds can be persuaded to occupy one of the nest boxes erected by MOD staff. Single birds noted at Penclacwydd in January, March and December may represent post breeding dispersal from nest sites near Llanelli and on Gower.

1993
The year was an outstanding one for the location of nest sites, with breeding confirmed at Brechfa, Llanfihangel ar Arth, Ffarmers (two sites), Pinged, Manordeilo, Abergwili and Cae’r Bryn. In addition, breeding possibly occurred at Pontyberem, Aberglasney, Bryn Iwan, Cae Caradog, Pinged and Salem. Productivity of individual pairs was low however, with most producing only two or three young, despite clutches of 6-8 eggs being found. This may reflect poor weather or cyclical fluctuations in the population of the species main prey, the Short-tailed Field Vole Micro tusagrestis. Most nest sites were in buildings of some kind, with derelict houses the most favoured locations. However, the birds at Abergwili utilised the broken trunk of an old ash tree. Use of trees as nesting sites is more common in the eastern part of Britain, but the discovery of this pair suggests that parkland landscapes, such as those at Dinefwr Park where tree cavities of sufficient size occur, may also provide opportunity for this species.

1994
A reassuringly productive year for this most attractive species. Breeding was confirmed at the following locations: Llanfihangel ar Arth, Salem, Taliaris, Blaencothi, Gwynfe, Llanwrda, Crymlyn Manor, Ffarmers Ffald y brenin, Byrgwm Bach and Derwydd. Breeding was considered possible or probable at the following sites: Abergwili, Cae’rbryn, Pontyberem and Glanrannell. Birds were also regularly seen in the Myddfai area.

Away from known breeding sites, there was a wide range of records of single birds from throughout the county including regular sightings around the Cydweli bypass from January to March and around Witchett Pool for much of the spring and summer suggesting that breeding was taking place in the vicinity. Other birds were seen at Dryslwyn Castle on 3rd January, Bryn Iwan 14th January, Trimsaran, 5th March, Pembrey Salting’s 9th March, Old Castle reedbed 26th March, Llwynhendy 4th April, Llanboidy 31st May and Drefach Felindre 12th September. Pellets found in a disused house near Idole suggested birds had also been in this area in 1994. A bird was regularly seen during the winter months at Penclacwydd, possibly having dispersed from a breeding site on Gower and were regular in the Troedrhiwbylchau area throughout the year. Two records were of particular interest: a recently fledged juvenile killed by a cat in Salem on 1st September and a bird found dead on the A40 near St Michael’s Church on 22nd September The former record indicates that many pairs may have delayed breeding until later in the summer because of inclement spring and early summer weather, whilst the latter emphasises a major cause of mortality when individuals are forced to hunt alongside rough verges, because much farmland has been rendered inhospitable by modern agriculture.

A study of Barn Owl diet using pellets from several Carmarthenshire sites undertaken by children of Gelli Aur WATCH club provided the following results -Bank Vole 4 (2%), Field Vole 144 (80%), Common Shrew 25 (14%), Pygmy Shrew 3(2%) and Wood Mouse 4 (2%). This is broadly in line with dietary studies of this species elsewhere in Britain.

1995
Fewer records than in 1994. Breeding was confirmed near Capel Gwynfe, near Llansadwrn, Cwm Crymlyn and near Rhydycymerau. Breeding may have occurred at Mynydd y Garreg and Cydweli, where pairs were noted. Other sightings were singles at Ffarmers on 9th June and Llanddowror on 5th July and a corpse at Maesycrugiau.

Outside the breeding season, the records consisted of the following: singles throughout both winter periods at Penclacwydd and Pendine. Singles were seen at Capel Isaac on 26th January, Llwynhendy on 12th February, Penybanc on 8th August, Glynea Pond on 7th September, Tygwyn on 16th November, near Llanedi on 30th, Gwenffrwd Valley on 27th December and Bynea on 30th.

1996
Breeding was confirmed at Penclacwydd where a pair raised 5 young, whilst a pair were present throughout the year near Cydweli. The only other records were of 1 at Gwenffrwd/Dinas Reserve from January – June, 1 at Bynea in January (WES) and autumn and winter birds at Llanwrda, Llanllwch (both dead), Brechfa, Witchett Pool, Trap and Felinfoel. Far fewer records than in recent years.

1997
Breeding was confirmed at Penclacwydd (2 young fledged) and Garnant where several young were raised in a chimney stack. Other breeding season sightings were made at Aberglasney (pair), Rhydcymerau, Cilycwm, Gwenffrwd/Dinas Reserve and Rhosmaen (dead). Autumn and winter records came from Ffarmers, Cwm Lliedi, Witchett Pool, Broad Oak and Cydweli (2).

1998
Pairs bred at Penclacwydd (1 young fledged), Uplands Mansion near Llandyfaelog (2+ young fledged) and Allt-y-mynydd.

A total of 7 other sightings all of single birds at the following locations: Felinfoel on 23rd January, near Cydweli on 7th April, Ashburnham Golf Links on 27th May, Penrhyngwyn on 21st September, found newly dead at Ashburnham on 5th October, at Rhydcymerau on 9th November, on Cydweli Flats on 5th December and at Moreb, Burry Port on 10th.

1999
Records originated from a total of 11 localities with breeding confirmed at one – Salem – where a nest was found and breeding has taken place for several years running. The other sites concerned were Cenarth, Cydweli, Plas Mawr (Tycroes), Penclacwydd (2 present in every month of the year), Caio, (a pair) Ffosddu near Salem, Cwm-mawr (Drefach), Taliaris, Llanarthne and Abermarlais Park.

2000
At Penclacwydd a pair was present throughout the year, but abandoned a nest of 5 eggs. Other records 1 over the Cydweli by-pass on 13th March; a breeding pair at Salem School; singles at Gweunydd Cochion on 22nd July, Cencoed-uchaf, Cwmbach in September, Ffosddu, Salem on 8th September, the Cydweli by-pass on 20th December and a bird perched on a roadside fence at the Berwick Roundabout, Bynea on 21st. Roadside casualties reported were 1 dead on the A40 between Carmarthen and St Clears on 17th January and another near Llandovery on 10th March.

2001
This species, the second most reported – 20 records – was seen in every month of the year with the exception of April and May. Fifteen widely spaced sites were involved. All records except the last two featured singles. Perhaps there is room for hope that this bird is recovering from its recent decline. Three records came from Cydweli: on 18th January: 6th March and 16th July. There were three also from Ffosddu: on 17th February: 12th June and 14th September. Glan Ddu was the third site with more than 1 record: on 4th July and 17th November. A dead bird was discovered at Bancyfelin on 17th February. One flew over the A40 – Grid ref. SN752333 – On 19th’ January. The remainder, in date order, were at: Rhydcmerau on 18th February: on the Llanybydder – Rhydcmerau road on 17th August: Llansawel on 18th; Ffairfach on 13th; near Edwinsford on 20th October: near Ty Mawr on the same date; near Pentrfelin on 31st December and Cwm Hiraeth on 29th December. At Pendacwydd 1 pair bred, fledging 1 young. A second pair fledged 2 young at Blaenau.

2002
1 by the A40 at Bishop’s Pond on 29th January was the first. 20th February the next date, with a bird near Hope Inn, Taliaris. The A40 featured again on 5th May, a bird sitting on a fence at the Penybanc junction. Near Llanwrda and Ashfield, Llangadog on 25th and 26th May respectively, followed. Pwllau, Taliaris registered them on 17th June and 30th July. An excited observer reported 1 from Caer-Blaidd, Brechfa on 21st September. Machynys had 1 on 27th. At Pinged a bird was in residence from 2nd October to 2nd December. The covered reservoir at Salem yielded a bird on 12th October and Cwm Du likewise on 20th November. There looks like a direct correlation between the much reduced number of records – roughly halved – and the fact that the main observer from last year changed her work pattern from nights to days!

At Penclacwydd a pair bred fledging 3 young.

2003
A bird ‘…roosted in a conifer tree all day…’ on 5th January at Pwllau, Taliaris. Singles at Abergwili on 10th January and Bancyffordd on 12th March. A pair near Craig Carreg Cennen on 23rd April. Singles again, at Salem on August and Kidwelly bypass on 19th December. There were 1 or 2 at Rhydcymerau on various dates. Breeding was proven at Blaencwm. Llanllwni.

A pair raised 3 young at Penclacwydd.

2004
Recorded from 6 localities. Pair at Penclacwydd reared 2 young and a bird was seen taking food to a nest at Brooklands, Pembrey.

2005
Reported from 11 localities including a pair which fledged 3 young at Salem and another which fledged 3 at Llangadog.

2006
Only reported from 8 sites.

2007
Reported from 12 sites where breeding may have taken place. At two of these sites breeding was proven with 3 young being raised from on location and 5 from another.

Bred at Penclacwydd.