OP­ER­A­TION B DAY

Bird Watching (UK) - - Garden Birds -

WORDS & PHO­TOS: CARO­LINE DAVIS

HE ASH STUMP that had stood in our lo­cal church grounds for as long as I can re­mem­ber fi­nally top­pled dur­ing a vi­o­lent storm in Novem­ber 2015. Not only had we lost a land­mark, but also the nest­ing site for the Barn Owls that came back to the old tree year af­ter year. One late sum­mer evening last year, I saw three young­sters fledge and soar away with their par­ents. How for­tu­nate was that! I felt as though I was walk­ing on air, it was such an amaz­ing and emo­tional sight and I felt in­cred­i­bly lucky to have wit­nessed it.

Ob­serv­ing ‘our Bar­neys’, usu­ally when walk­ing the dog at dusk, was a daily high­light for us, and we dubbed one the ‘nine o’clock owl’ be­cause he al­ways ap­peared at that time of night, swoop­ing from another roost­ing site near his mate in the stump to go and hunt for sup­per. My part­ner Malc and I mourned the loss of the stump, and the nest­ing site. Where would our owls raise their ba­bies now? What if they went else­where and we wouldn’t see them any­more? Well, we thought, there’s noth­ing else for it, we’d have to try to re­place the nest site they’ve lost. But how to do this? And, cru­cially, how much would this cost?

Af­ter email­ing com­pany di­rec­tor James Bird, a qual­i­fied ecol­o­gist, ex­plain­ing what I wanted do­ing, he came back with an ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive of­fer, driven by con­ser­va­tion rea­sons, com­plete with a be­spoke pay­ment sched­ule that made my project vi­able. Hur­rah! And ‘B Day’ was set for 5th Fe­bru­ary. B Day dawned over­cast, but thank­fully dry and calm af­ter days of re­lent­less rain and fierce wind. James and Ben Clarke, Green­way’s co-di­rec­tor and land­scap­ing ex­pert, rocked up at 9am sharp in Dig­ging the hole is eas­ier with a ma­chine, but shov­els are needed to tidy around the hole be­fore the pole is in­serted – af­ter it’s been care­fully ne­go­ti­ated through the gar­den, of course!

CON­STRUC­TION WORK

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