April - July 2023
The story begins with what we thought was an unrelated incident, and one purely of mindless vandalism. One of our volunteers noticed smoke coming from the Fan House on the 23rd April this year. Calls were made to the Fire Service who attended and discovered that a fire had been started in the Fan House near one of the pieces of plant belonging to ARC. Thanks to the firemen the fire was extinguished before any real damage could be done.
Seat of fire
Picture left: the smouldering fire in the Fan House
Picture right: the firemen removed the charred logs from the building
The following day, the 24th April, the ARC manager found two baby owls on the floor of the North Winding House. They were picked up and put on a shelf but it wasn’t certain how they should be dealt with. It was hoped, if left alone, that the mother owl would retrieve them but there were worries over crows and possibly rats attacking the little ones before the mother realised where they were.
Owl on shelf
It was then thought that the fire in the Fan House may not have been just vandalism but may have been started deliberately to smoke out the owls and owlets, for what purpose we could not imagine. In past years the owls have nested in the Fan House. The mother may have moved the owlets to the North Winding House when the fire started.
Over the next few days an eye was kept on their welfare and it appeared the mother was trying to feed them. However it was suspected she had only managed to carry one to another place as only one baby remained, still on the shelf. By this time this remaining owlet was poorly and a decision was made to involve the Ebbw Vale Owl Sanctuary who agreed to take the baby and care for it.
(Click on picture to visit their website)
This owlet was unanimously named "NAVI" !!
On the 2nd May we were delighted that the second owlet was found, still in the same building, although a thorough search had been made previously. It was also decided to take this one to the Owl Sanctuary and let it be reunited with it’s kin.
We are very pleased to now report that the Sanctuary cared for the owlets long enough for them to be returned to the wild and to be released back on the Navigation site. This took place on the 6th July and we sincerely hope they will establish their home back on the site where they belong.
Having been brought to site the box was opened and despite some initial hesitation Navi flew away first and both made it safely to the trees!
Barn owls are given the highest level of legal protection possible under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. Penalties that can be imposed for criminal offences in respect of a single bird, nest or egg contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is an unlimited fine, up to six months imprisonment or both.