Get nesting in the Ring of Gullion!

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Friday, January 24th, 2014
Community, What's On
Newry and Mourne District Council’s Ring of Gullion AONB project has teamed up with John Woolsey, the Barn Owl Officer from Ulster Wildlife to run a workshop on barn owls on Saturday 1st February at 2.00pm. The workshop will be provided in Tí Chulainn cultural activity and residential centre, Mullaghbane. John will provide an overview of why this bird is so important and it will then be time to get stuck in. Attendees will get a chance to make their own barn owl nest box to bring home and use in the hopes of encouraging more barn owls in the area. Speaking to Newry Times, John stated, “Through this project, we hope to make people more aware of these amazing birds. With a heart-shaped face, buff back and wings and pure white underparts, the barn owl is a distinctive and much-loved countryside bird. “If you have ever seen one of these birds, you can count yourself very lucky and I would like to hear from you.” “The Ring of Gullion area is an ideal habitat for the Barn Owl with lowland rough grasslands for hunting small mice and rats and old derelict buildings for nesting in. The main reason for the bird’s decline is the loss of suitable feeding and nesting sites.” John is currently working on a Heritage Lottery funded 3 year project called ‘Be there for Barn Owls’ and he hopes to enthuse and engage local communities in barn owl conservation through recording sightings and building and installing barn owl nest boxes in suitable locations. Right up until the early 1980’s, County Armagh had a good population of breeding barn owls with many nest sites recorded especially in the north of the county. There are few written records of barn owls in South Armagh but recently a few more sightings from this area have been reported. Therese Hamill, Ring of Gullion Officer stated, “We are encouraging everyone to get involved with this project and we hope to work closely with John to increase the number of reported Barn Owl sightings in the Ring of Gullion area. A great first step is the creation of these nest boxes for the local community to use.” Thankfully, the barn owl is no longer the subject of direct human persecution but indirectly through a variety of factors such as loss of nesting sites in barns or old buildings, loss of rough unimproved grassland habitat and hedgerows, being hit by road vehicles and loss of prey species through increased use of pesticides, the Northern Ireland population of barn owls is perhaps as low as 50 breeding pairs. Please report any sightings to or contact John on 07598 371361. To book your space on the workshop, visit the Ring of Gullion visit:, and click on “What’s on”. For more information on activities in the Ring of Gullion area, search for Ring of Gullion on Facebook and Twitter or visit
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