Owl network celebrates 21st

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Now 21 years old, the Barn Owl Conservation Network celebrated its ‘coming of age’ at Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre during the weekend.

2009 BOCN Symposium

Juliet Kindersley welcomed 120 delegates from across the UK and Ireland for the Barn Owl Conservation Network Symposium 2009.  Juliet established the Sheepdrove Trust, which funds the BOCN – a Network of dedicated people who strive to save the nation’s favourite owl.

“What you do for barn owls all over the country is very important work.” Juliet told the audience.

She recalled how, back in the 1990s, her owl nestbox set in a new barn very soon attracted a Barn Owl. Juliet and Peter Kindersley contacted the BOCN and received expert advice on how to develop the provision of nestboxes and habitat across the farm as it grew.

Today up to five breeding pairs of Barn Owl live at Sheepdrove Organic Farm and all five British owl species use its rich landscape. Sheepdrove’s success story echoes the many examples that the Network advisors have achieved nationwide – working  in partnership with farmers, landowners, agencies and volunteers.

By promoting creation of the essential rough grass habitat that barn owls require, and the careful location of nestboxes, the Network has recorded a rise in Barn Owl populations wherever they have worked. Overall, the emerging evidence suggests a significant population recovery – a scientific national survey is needed to confirm the growth. However, the Barn Owl is still vulnerable and remains on the Amber List of Birds of Conservation Concern.

Knowledge shared through the BOCN has advanced the understanding of the ecology of the owls, based on many years of monitoring and study by many dedicated groups and individuals.

Speakers delivered presentations about a range of topics and reflected what has been learned from over two decades of Barn Owl conservation and study.

bocn speakers 2009

Bob Sheppard summarised 25 years of owl conservation in Lincolnshire, Mark Grantham (BTO) looked at 100 years of bird ringing, Alex Copland and John Lusby (BirdWatch Ireland) explored the latest knowledge about the Barn Owl in Eire, Paddy Jackson investigated double brooding, Karen Davies (FWAG) highlighted the best options for owls in Environmental Stewardship (the grant scheme for farmers),  Bernard Wright and Roy Leigh summarised 25 years of work in Cheshire, and Colin Shawyer reviewed the work of the BOCN.

Symposium papers will be brought together with county-based reports from the Network, and published as a collection to illustrate the progress made by the Barn Owl Conservation Network over its twenty one years.

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