Warcop Owl Boxes

Thursday, February 1st 2018

A team from Foxglove spent yesterday working on the ranges at Warcop to replace a number of the owl boxes that were in poor condition.  The van had been loaded the previous evening with 12  of the new boxes that had been brought up from Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve in December, and the team of seven volunteers, Martin the Range Marshall, Tony and Steve set off just after 8.30 to drive over the Pennines.

Despite the wintry weather, they arrived at Warcop where we were joined by Chris from the Warcop Conservation Group.  We were briefed by Tony on the plan for taking down the old boxes and hoisting the new ones to be put into position.  The first box proved to be the most difficult to put up as it was slightly larger than the previous one which meant that it had to be moved slightly because of a large limb on the Oak tree.  This was also the one where the method of attaching the box was tried and amended to find the best way of fitting them to the trees.

WIth a biting wind and frequent snow showers, the need for refreshments was becoming apparent and we were joined by the team from the kitchens at Warcrop, walking across the field to the tree that had just had its box fitted with a very welcome serving of tea and coffee.  Special thanks go to them for coming out to us, and to Jenny who had also brought cake which went very nicely with the hot drinks.

By the end of the morning, the team had become well drilled in getting to the trees, with Martin taking the lead on removing the old boxes and securing the new ones in place.  There was a short return to the Warcop camp for lunch, with those choosing the lamb chops expressing particular delight in how tasty they were.

We were joined for lunch and for the afternoon session by Major Mick Lynch, soon to take over command of Warcop.  As we approached the final box to be replaced, two Barn Owls flew off, so it was important to fit the new box quickly, although there was a slight distraction for a couple of the party as a small piece of drystone wall was repaired.  After this, Major Lynch thanked everyone and said that he may well join in future work.

At the finish, we had replaced nine boxes and decided that one was in sufficiently good condition to be left.  The drive back was in slightly warmer conditions than the morning and we arrived back at Wathgill at 4.30.  Thanks must go to Major Lynch for joining us, to the staff from the Warcop kitchens for keeping us fed and watered, to Jenny for recording the location of each of the boxes (and for the cake), and to Ken and Linda, Peter, Eddie, the two Johns for an excellent day, and to Tony for making all the arrangements.  But I think we all agreed that the star of the day had been Martin, described by one of the group as 'awesome'.

Thanks also go to Chris for all his help on the day, but also for coming back to the final owl box to be put in place to remove the lower limbs from the Ash tree to allow a clear flight path for the residents to gain access to the box.

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