About Us

The inspiration for the formation of our group was the enthusiasm of Mrs Dorothy Bramall (Dot to all of us) and her late husband George who made it all happen.

George & Dot moved to Burwardsley from Guernsey and could not understand why there were so few Barn Owls in Cheshire. George took on the task of organising the tetrads in West Cheshire for the national survey of the species and recruited the rest of us into the project. The project was led by Mike Toms for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), and Colin Shawyer for the Hawk & Owl Trust. The dearth of Barn Owls in Cheshire that was exposed by the survey – only nine breeding pairs in the county – led Dot & George to form the Broxton Barn Owl Group with half a dozen locals in the Broxton area along with support from the local group of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Owl Box TeamColin Shawyer and Sue Dewer of The Hawk and Owl Trust became our gurus and supplied the expertise we the volunteers so sadly lacked. Cheshire Wildlife Trust provided some early funding and created the post of Barn Owl conservation officer. The Biodiversity Action Plan Group for Cheshire led the drive to form other Barn Owl groups.

George and Bernard Wright had been giving talks to schools, youth groups, WIs, conservation and wildlife groups and now targeted the Wirral, mid-Cheshire and South Cheshire, leading seminars and workshops to set up groups similar to the Broxton group. They were joined by Alastair McCreary who worked closely with new groups and Bernard spread the process into adjacent Staffordshire working with the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and local RSPB group.

The key to success was to talk to people. Local farmers and landowners in West Cheshire responded very positively to visits from these amateur ornithologists and soon Barn Owl boxes were appearing all along the River Gowy and the other streams and ‘wildlife corridors’ of the county.

Owl box team in winterAt first funding was difficult but some income from the talks now being given by a number of group members together with donations from a wide variety of sources (see sponsors on the home page), have enabled the group to bring the species back from what seemed like near extinction in Cheshire to a healthy breeding population that in 2006 produced over 650 young Barn Owls.

To enable the group to monitor the birds in West Cheshire Bernard and Alastair became ringers under the guidance of Roy Leigh and Professor David Norman. Three teams of workers with a slightly competitive edge are still putting up owl boxes and occasionally referred to as the ABH boys (not actual bodily harm – but Alastair’s Bernard’s and John’s; John Holland’s kingdom being East of the sandstone ridge).

The initial tactics of the group to re-establish the Barn Owl in our county remain unchanged:

  • To survey the current distribution and breeding status in W. Cheshire
  • To raise the awareness to habitat needs and conservation considerations with the public, farmers and landowners
  • To establish contacts with the local farmers and landowners
  • To encourage good conservation by such means as increased field margins, headings and wild life corridors etc.
  • To install breeding boxes in suitable wildlife corridors
  • To increase the number of Barn Owls in Cheshire and in the process to improve the biodiversity and habitat of the county