Well the turn out for this talk was staggering! This of course was a talk I wanted to do for the people of Compton Dundon, who were so caring with their quick response when a family of wild Barn Owls were burnt to death in an arson attack on a farmers barn.
We had a small group of us that organised this event, and were delighted that the Hawk and Owl Trust had donated 2 raffle prizes, also that Cotleigh Brewery (makers of fine real ales named after Birds of Prey and Owls) donated 2 raffle prizes, with one being a never to be repeated complete gift pack of Barn Owl Beer.
We were all gob smacked when after 100 chairs were placed out we had to add two more rows!
I'm not going to say any more, the rest of this posting is the words of Jenny Rowson from Compton Dundon. But I will just finish my bit by saying a huge thank you everyone who helped and joined in the fun of the evening.
Words By Jenny Rowson of Compton Dundon
Last Friday evening November 21st Chris Sperring MBE, world famous naturalist, broadcaster and Conservation Officer for the Hawk and Owl Trust gave a most enjoyable talk about owls at the Meadway Hall in Compton Dundon. His talk was free of charge and was dedicated to the villagers because, as he put it, of their magnificent response during the summer 2008 when an arson attack on a farmers barn caused the young Barn Owls to be burnt to death in the fire.
The village had collected over £100 for the Hawk and Owl Trust and also provided a replacement owl box which, on advice, was erected close to the destroyed one. Chris applauded the concern and rallying round shown after the disaster and rewarded the community with an extremely informative, interesting and at times amusing talk assisted by a superb visual display and Chris's amazing ability to demonstrate owl calls.
Chris was very enthusiastic about the area surrounding Compton Dundon which apparently is very good owl country with its open grassland, scrub land and abundance of trees and he emphasised the importance of leaving strips of long grass around fields to encourage mice and voles for the owls.
Tom and Jenny Rowson who were instrumental in replacing the owl box, with the support of J & F Clark Trust, helped to organise the evening and were apprehensive about the number of people who would attend. However, they need not have worried because the response was beyond expectations resulting in an audience of over 130 people who generously bought raffle tickets, owl trinkets, owl and bird boxes and refreshments. The unanimous verdict was that the evening had been informative, inspiring, thoroughly enjoyable and a great success.
Chris brought along his two captive owls, Otus and Beau who were very beautiful and caused a great deal of admiration, interest and photographing. The audience were allowed to see these magnificent tame birds extremely close up which was a wonderful experience.
The Hawk and Owl Trust Chairman, Barbara Handley, was in charge of membership and Adopt-a-Box sign-up and although it is not yet known how many people joined the Trust on the night, several forms were taken away.
After deducting expenses such as hire of the hall and raffle prizes other than those donated, £250 was raised on the evening which Chris and the Trust were delighted with.
My words again. From Death comes life, and the fact that so many people which included so many landowners turned out for this event means that wildlife has been firmly put on the agenda in this small, yet precious part of Somerset. I have now to follow up on new farm visits to farmers, who all want to help Owls (which means all wildlife). Brilliant! I love people! And I love Wildlife......... This should give everyone faith in the fact that we as a species can turn a wrong into a right.