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World Owl Trust - leading the World in Owl Conservation
Friday 21st November, 2014

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Stirk House Project Goes Public

With the addition of brand new nest boxes placed around the grounds of the Stirk House Hotel, the next generation of owl enthusiasts was born.

Over 51 children from the local Gisburn Primary were invited to Stirk House for a special afternoon of fun and learning.

Tony and some of the children at Stirk House

The children were treated to a guided walk the *Warburton way, whilst pretending to be voles and learning the importance of long grassland, ideal habitat for the short tailed vole and main prey species of the Barn Owl. They had a look at what can be found in an owl pellet (the essential Yuk factor! which can capture any child’s imagination), hunted through the long grass for signs of voles and had a look at the newly erected boxes which were put up around the grounds that very morning.

The Children were invited along to not only learn about owls in general, but also to learn a little bit about what their local hotel was doing to be more wildlife friendly. Back in 2008 when Tony was first invited to visit the hotel, he was pleasantly surprised to see that the ideal owl habitat, which is rapidly diminishing from the modern landscape, was in abundance. Long tussocky grassland is a must for attracting any owl species, especially Barn Owls.

As the project has taken shape, the next stage was to provide some nest boxes. With a variety of different boxes to cater for the many species of bird found in the grounds, a band of willing volunteers (encouraged by the promise of scones and profiteroles) set out to put up 3 different types of owl box. These were for Barn, Tawny and Little Owls, along with two different types of small bird boxes for such species as Robins and Tits.

These were erected in suitable trees around the edge of the open grassland, and it is hoped will encourage various species to breed on site. All this is just the beginning for the hotel, who not only caters for hotel guests, but also encourages their local wildlife. With the list of species spotted within the grounds growing, from Roe Deer to Badger, Little Owl to Eagle Owl, the Stirk House Hotel is sure to become heaven for anyone who enjoys wildlife and nature.

Sharing with the local children the fantastic vision of owners Paul and Anne Caddy and all the staff at the hotel, only opens the project up to even wider possibilities. Happy, exhausted and enthralled the children had one final treat in store when they got to meet not only a British Barn Owl, but a Tawny Owl and a European Eagle Owl. That left us with only one thing to do for the day, tuck into those fabulous scones and profiteroles and thank the stirk house team for a thoroughly enjoyable day and a brilliant effort on behalf of UK owl conservation and wildlife in general.

Hilary Lange

*Tony Warburton at his best, filling children with enthusiasm and motivation for owls and wildlife in general.

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