Workshop donates owl box for common

Michael Aitchison of Friends of Wooler Common, recieving the owl box from Wooler's RVS 'men in the workshop' members Brian Sparrow and Bryan Stewart who built the box to special ornathological designs.
Michael Aitchison of Friends of Wooler Common, recieving the owl box from Wooler's RVS 'men in the workshop' members Brian Sparrow and Bryan Stewart who built the box to special ornathological designs.

A workshop project designed to prevent isolation in older men has donated a box which will continue the efforts to support barn owls in Wooler.

The owl box, which was built to a special ornithological design, was built by two service users at the RVS’ (Royal Voluntary Service) Men in the Workshop project, based at Haugh Head.

Owls using the first of the boxes on Wooler Common

Owls using the first of the boxes on Wooler Common

Brian Sparrow and Bryan Stewart, who constructed the box, recently presented it to Michael Aitchison, from the Friends of Wooler Common, where the box will be installed.

Mr Aitchison said: “Many years ago, we had a white barn owl which used to hunt the lower ground at Wooler Common, mainly during the winter months.

“We then had two hard winters where the ground was covered in frost and snow and the owl disappeared, I guess, owing to lack of food.

“Last winter, it reappeared and one of our members, Steve, built a proper owl box in his garage from plans.

Owls using the first of the boxes on Wooler Common

Owls using the first of the boxes on Wooler Common

The box was installed and in the spring, our owl gave birth to five young owlets.

“We notified the appropriate authority, which came along and weighed and tagged all five owlets.”

It is hoped the new box from the Men in the Workshop project will encourage the owlets to nest next year.

Mr Aitchison added: “The number of local people who tell me that they have seen the owl and the number of residents and holiday-makers who use the Common is amazing – probably 14,000 people a year.”

Owls using the first of the boxes on Wooler Common

Owls using the first of the boxes on Wooler Common

The Men in the Workshop scheme, which aims to give older men from north Northumberland the opportunity to share and learn new woodwork skills and traditional crafts, while benefitting from a social environment, was set up last year.

In May this year, 14 men were using the workshop, from Tuesdays to Fridays, 10am-3pm. To find out more about the project, contact Mark on 01668 260248.