Chris Sperring of the Hawk and Barn Owl Trust gave a wonderful talk on Conserving British owls at the Lightbox in Woking last Saturday. The hall was completely packed so late arrivals were forced to stand, as Chris related fascinating facts and stories of the 5 species of British owls, that he has spent much of his life helping preserve. His talk was further enlivened by his impressionist skills, as he mimicked the calls of different species of owl and I suspect none of those present, would have left the talk without knowing a lot more about this fascinating group of birds. What he called his PR team Orion, the Tawny Owl and Bellatrix the Barn Owl (both captive bred birds, working in the educational field) were brought onto the stage at the end of the talk and made a delightful finale to a very enjoyable afternoon.
He also stressed how improving the habitat for owls can have a very beneficial effect for a whole range of other creatures and plants. Providing the right resources for an animal at the top of the food chain is perhaps the most effective way of ensuring the right balance and biodiversity for other creatures and plants that are below it. Due to changes in land management all species of British owls have seriously declined in recent years, and it is only by means of more sympathetic, conservation conscious land management and community support and involvement that we will be able to reverse this trend.
The Woking Owl Conservation project, Operation Owl has started this process in the Woking area. Owl boxes have started to be erected in suitable locations and other locations are being identified for a number of others. The project has been well supported by Woking Borough Council, the Surrey Wildlife Trust and Horsell Common Preservation Society with the LA21 Biodiversity Committee coordinating the overall project. As the project develops we hope to involve as many local groups and residents that wish to take part, and so it was very pleasing after the talk to take the names of more people that wish to be involved in this exciting project.
If you would like to be kept in touch about the Operation Owl project and any events surrounding it, please email your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org .