Meet the contributor: John Lightfoot

John placing a rehabilitated barn owl in a mobile aviary ready to be returned to the wild

I was born and brought up in Shropshire and currently live at Stanwardine near Shrewsbury with my wife Wendy and we both have a great interest in our local wildlife here in Shropshire, especially Barn Owls.  We both work full time for Royal Mail.

In 2002 I co-founded the Shropshire Barn Owl Group with Glenn Bishton.  Since that time we have installed over 300 nest boxes for barn owls throughout Shropshire, resulting in 1,214 owlets being successfully produced.

How did you first hear about the scheme?

I first heard about the scheme many years ago whilst volunteering for the Barn Owl Trust in Devon. I have been submitting barn owl casualties since 2004

How/where do you find most of the birds that you submit?

Most of the barn owls I send to you are road casualties, usually on A roads.  A notorious road for dead barn owls is the A5 near Oswestry which is the road I use to go to work. Also I am contacted via our website by members of the public who have seen a dead or injured barn owl.  We are always interested to see whether there is an identifying ring on the barn owls found as we can establish how old they are and where they are from.

Do you have any tips for anyone thinking of keeping an eye out for birds to submit to the PBMS?

Anyone can look for dead or injured barn owls. They are usually on the side of the road and at first glance look like a white bag. An AA patrol man, whose mother came to a talk I gave in 2012 on Barn Owl conservation, lets us know if he sees any barn owls whilst at work.

What is your favourite bird of prey and why?

John holding a barn owl

Obviously my favourite bird of prey is the barn owl.  My first encounter with a barn owl was as a young man and a barn owl flew out of a barn I was in and on examination I found a nest with young. The birds continued to breed in the same barn until it was burnt down a few years later whereupon they moved to a nearby tree.  This was their second home until the tree blew down in a gale, the barn owls then disappeared from the area.  After that I made it my mission to monitor barn owls in Shropshire and provide them with somewhere to nest. This has proved to be very successful over the years.

How can you help?

To submit a dead bird of prey Contact us (or telephone 01524 595830) to request a submission pack.


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