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Student builds homes fit for barn owls during lockdown

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MANY of the island’s resident owls will now have a luxurious place to rest, thanks to the efforts of one Blanchelande College student during his time in lockdown.

Blanchelande student Tom Watts made owl and bird boxes during lockdown after his GSCEs were cancelled. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 28406522)

Tom Watts, 16, had been due to take his GCSEs this year, but following the coronavirus crisis and subsequent lockdown, he decided to do something more with his spare time and help the local owl population by building several owl boxes for them to stay in.

‘I was about to take my GCSEs and with them being cancelled I needed something to do to keep me occupied,’ he said.

‘Woodworking for me is a hobby and it was suggested to me to create these so that I could do something with my time that could benefit our owls here.’

He said he was thankful to Blanchelande College for allowing him to come in and use the woodworking tools two or three days a week, and to teacher Hugh Tabel in particular.

‘I’ve been working with the jigsaw and lathes to create them and then fit them all together,’ he said.

‘I’ve made four owl boxes and six bird boxes that have been made using recycled plywood that used to be part of a horse stables.

‘The owl boxes have been made using a design from The Barn Owl Trust, so it’s got features that will be really beneficial to them, such as an exercise platform for chicks to come out on and it’s waterproof and angled down with slats for the water to run out.

‘They’ve been good to make as it’s allowed me to use and learn new building and construction techniques – I’m a novice so I wanted to learn more, so I’m chuffed with them.’

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The boxes will now be placed at several sites, including one at Blanchelande College, another at a neighbours, as well as at the farm where he lives, where he knows that there are some barn owls that pass by every morning.

‘Everyone wants one now, but I’ve ran out of plywood,’ he added.

‘Hopefully they’ll last a decade and the owls will make good use out of them.’

Tom will now go onto join Guernsey Grammar School and Sixth Form Centre.

La Societe Guernesiaise is currently conducting an island-wide Guernsey barn owl survey to gauge information on what is happening to the local barn owl population and what conservation and mitigation is required to help them.

  • For more information on La Societe’s survey, visit www.societe.org.gg/wp/guernsey-barn-owl-survey-2020/.
Danielle Kenneally

By Danielle Kenneally
News reporter

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