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06th August 2019

Estate gamekeeper comes to the rescue of stricken owlets

Englefield Estate’s head game keeper has proved that game keeping is as much about conservation as it is about wildlife population management – through the rescue of a trio of tawny owlets.

The chicks were left stranded and vulnerable underneath a large beech tree growing in the deer park, when a May storm blew the bow, and their nest, down.

Thankfully, Dave Wiggins, 53, who has been the Estate’s head game keeper for 11 years, found them on his morning rounds at 7am.

“They were scattered when I found them, and their parents were flying overhead,” he recalled. “I went and found a barn owl box, attached it to the trunk and put them in there.

“The parents found them and I left them to it. Within two weeks they’d fledged and left the nest, so it was a happy ending.”

Dave explained that the area’s owl population has been boosted through the Estate’s Partridge Project which has been running for around a decade and has involved establishing insect-rich habitats including swathes of scrubby grassland which appeals not only to partridges but large numbers of mice and voles which are the staple part of an owl’s diet, too.

“The impact the Partridge Project has had on owls is a positive spin off,” Dave continued. “It’s led to an increase in barn owl brood counts which is helping to stabilise the local population but also many other nationally declining bird species.”

Header photo used is a stock image.