The Owl Box Initiative is a Green Recovery Challenge Fund awarded project run by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, working with 100 farms which collectively cover 40,000 hectares, to inspire farmers and communities to work for the conservation of the iconic barn owl.
The project grant will allow GWCT scientists to build on existing barn owl monitoring work with local Farmer Cluster groups and expand to new sites across Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset, as well as working with volunteers and young people. The project will also GPS tag a number of barn owls to identify their Agri-environment habitat preferences and track small mammals across farmland to understand prey availability.
The project has already received delivery of sixty-four flat-packed barn owl nest boxes which are due to be installed across local farms early this year. However, due to current COVID restrictions, project workshops to construct the new boxes for distribution have been unable to go ahead. Therefore, the project enlisted GWCT placement students Daisy Gillman and Ben Prego to help, as well as family members, to construct as many barn owl boxes as possible.
Flat-packed barn owl nest boxes ready to be constructed
One family member who has generously volunteered his time to the project is ex Liverpool footballer Jimmy Case. During his time with Liverpool Football Club, Jimmy helped gather an impressive list of trophies for the club, winning four League Championships and three European Cups, amongst a host of other meddles in a six-year Anfield career between 1975 and 1981.
Jimmy (left) holding the European Cup with his team mate Ray Kennedy in 1977, after beating Borussia Monchengladbach 3 -1 (Photo Credit: PA Images)
Nowadays Jimmy still works at Liverpool Football Club, meeting and greeting fans and sharing stories of his time on the pitch. But with crowds currently unable to attend matches due to COVID, Jimmy has volunteered time to help construct barn owl boxes at a critical time for our project, and has helped enable distribution and placement of the nest boxes ready for the breeding season.
Jimmy has been a keen angler throughout his life and always found the countryside to be a place of calm to retreat to, away from the intensity of high-level football. He has expressed…’giving my spare time to the Owl Box Initiative has been great; I’m really looking forward to seeing pictures of the barn owl nest boxes up and in place, ready for new occupants, and getting feedback of how the birds progress’.
Jimmy working from home constructing nest boxes for the Owl Box Initiative project
The Owl Box Initiative staff would like to thank all who have helped to construct barn owl boxes to allow the project to move forward in restrictive times.