BIRD enthusiasts are being offered a rare opportunity to watch a threatened owl species on webcam.

Dorset Wildlife Trust is celebrating the return of the barn owl webcam, which is installed on the trust’s Lorton Meadows nature reserve in Weymouth.

Viewers from all over the world have been following the exploits of Bob and Brenda as they rear their young in front of a live webcam streamed 24 hours a day.

Sam Dallimore, community conservation officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust, pictured right, said: “We are delighted to be once again following the progress of the barn owls as they look after their young.

“On a quiet evening, it is possible to see the barn owls soaring over the reserve in search of food such as voles, mice and other small prey to feed their chicks.

“There will be plenty of time to catch all the action on the webcam, as the chicks won’t leave the nest until they have all their plumage and are at least eight weeks old.”

He added: “The nest box is occupied for about 10 months of the year, as after the chicks have left, the male returns throughout the winter to roost, which will be shown live on-screen in the Lorton Meadows Conservation Centre.”

The webcam was first installed in 2010 by Wildlife Windows. Since then, the webcam has captured barn owls, kestrels and tawny owls.

This year’s footage has already included four chicks hatching, with another egg expected to hatch any day now.

It has received a positive response on the trust’s social media pages, where followers have posted photos and discussed the birds’ habits.

Last year saw the worst breeding season for barn owls for more than 30 years, suffering from unusual weather patterns experienced over the past four years. The trust believes there may now be fewer than 1,000 breeding pairs in England.