Volunteers sought to search for elusive barn owl in Co. Derry

Volunteers are being sought to help in order to help preserve the Barn Owl.
Volunteers are being sought to help in order to help preserve the Barn Owl.

Would you like to do your bit for one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic, but threatened birds? Local nature conservation charity, Ulster Wildlife is seeking volunteers to help survey and record barn owls across the county this summer.

A workshop will take place in The Vale Centre in Greysteel on Thursday 24 July from 7.30pm to 9.30pm, for anyone interested in getting involved. The workshop will cover everything from identifying barn owls and where to spot them, to threats to their survival, as well as outlining the procedure for the 2014 barn owl survey. The workshop is free of charge and refreshments will be provided.

The barn owl was once a common sight in our countryside, but now there are thought to be less than 30 to 40 breeding pairs left here. Extreme weather, loss of suitable feeding and nesting habitat, combined with the build up of toxins from consuming poisoned prey are the main cause of the bird’s decline.

Catherine Fegan, Barn Owl Officer with Ulster Wildlife said: “Volunteers are vital in helping us scour the landscape for these elusive birds, so we can identify possible nest and roost sites, and ensure our conservation efforts are focused in the right areas. We hope this workshop will encourage many more volunteers to sign up and join us, as we work to secure the future of this magnificent bird.”

Ulster Wildlife’s ‘Be There for Barn Owls Project’, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, aims to reverse the poor fortune of the barn owl by raising public awareness of its plight, undertaking surveys to establish its location and working with landowners to ensure suitable nesting and hunting habitat.

To find out more about the workshop and to register your interest, contact Catherine on 028 4483 3977, or email barnowls@ulsterwildlife.org

For further information about barn owls in Northern Ireland or to report a barn owl sighting, visit www.ulsterwildlife.org/barnowl