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The Barn Owl Trust

Conserving the Barn Owl and its Environment

Watch us on Youtube Follow us on Twitter Join us on Facebook Live Barnowl webcam direct from a barnowl nestbox at our Owl Sanctuary

About the Trust

Wild thing I love you

The derelict barn Bill meets Baley

The making of Barn Owl TV

Barn Owls and the Barn Owl Trust were featured in the Channel 4 tv series: 'Wild thing I love you' with presenter Bill Bailey - here we give you an inside view on the making of the programme.

Barn Owls were the species featured in one of a series of ten programmes. Each week presenter Bill Bailey led a team of experts as they attempt to solve an urgent wildlife crisis. Each show featured a different animal/issue with the team helping the animals overcome problems that mankind had put in their way. 'Wild thing I love you' was first broadcast on Sunday afternoons by Channel 4 from October to December 2006.

In March we were approached by RDF Media who were making a series called "Wild Thing - I love you" for Channel 4. They were looking for an idea for a Barn Owl story. We suggested a wildlife refuge on the site of a derelict barn in terminal decay.

Starting the foundations

By the end of the month we had arranged for BOT volunteer Alison Blackler to visit them in London with pictures of a proposed location. Phone calls & emails bounced back and forth throughout the summer and at the beginning of June we sent them sketches of a building that could provide homes for bats, kestrels, little owls, sparrows, stock doves, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and of course Barn Owls. Mindful of the need for planning consent, RDF arranged for London-based firm Andrzej Blonski Architects to produce drawings.

Riviera Stonemasons start to build the refuge

By August planning permission was applied for and on 14th September the first film crew arrived and the foundations were laid. A local company, Riviera Stonemasons, was contracted to build the refuge and a marquee was erected to make sure the weather didn't interfere with the tight 10-day schedule..

RDF Media's advance party

By Saturday the refuge was beginning to take shape and more of the crew had arrived on site. Left to right Claudia De Wolff - Runner, Jack Bootle - Researcher, Phillipa Murphy - Programme Producer/Director, David Ramsden BOT, Catherine Ross - Assistant Producer/ camera

Bill Bailey and more of the crew have arrived

By Monday more of the crew had arrived along with presenter Bill Bailey.

Joists for the first floor go in

The builders had put in the joists for the first floor and filming had begun in earnest. There were 3 crews involved in the filming (25 RDF staff in total over the 10-days) and they travelled all over the county to shoot different scenes.

Bill and David discuss the project Getting a closer look at the old barn Bill and David outside the derelict barn discuss the project. They then move inside with producer Phillipa, Nigel Dupont - camera and Kiff McManus - sound.
Filming in the aviary at Waterleat Bill meets Dusty

On Monday afternoon Bill and the crew came to Waterleat to film with Dusty the Barn Owl.

Bill meets Baley

He also met Baley the Barn Owl and had his picture taken with him to help promote the Trust's Adoption scheme - thanks Bill.

Some of the crew take a break The builders just keep going Above Alison Blacker - BOT volunteer (left) with runners, Sam Turner and Claudia. The programme has 3 other presenters - eco-strategist Dusty Gedge, zoologist Sasha Norris and engineer Jem Stansfield - below - the scaffolding is up and the builders just keep on going.
The refuge - day 5 "Lets do it this way"

By Tuesday afternoon the refuge has grown and has access for bats.

Series producer David Johnson directs Hugh Lambert - camera.

Presenter Sasha Norris visits the LLP field On Thursday morning presenter Sasha visits the Lennon Legacy Project field.
"This shot needs to explain field vole habitat" "Here's a vole run" She and David (BOT) are filmed looking at good habitat for voles. Researcher Jack (left) looks on, as David Johnson(RDF) directs; Mark Wellman - sound, Hugh Lambert - camera.
The refuge - day 7




By Thursday you could really see how the refuge would look........

Clearing the scaffolding Everyone lends a hand to tidy up

......and on Saturday after more than a week of frantic activity everyone mucked in to take the scaffolding down to shoot the final scene.

Doesn't it look great Before the final touches were made David (BOT) and presenters Jem (2nd left), Bill and Dusty (right) posed for this picture - note the skip still in the background.
Refuge from the back

Stone piles were left at the foot of the refuge to provide a habitat for amphibians and reptiles. From this side you can see the provision for kestrels and holes for Little Owls, sparrows and other birds.

Holes in the walls for iinvertebrates House sparrow nest hole Front of refuge On this side there is access for Barn Owls, bats and hole nesting birds. Small holes have been made between the stones to provide access for invertebrates.
The refuge sits beautifully in the landscape

You can see here how beautifully the refuge fits into its surroundings. The final scene was shot in November when Bill came back to see if any wildlife has taken up residence. Amazingly, a little owl had already roosted in the refuge and butterflies, lacewings, and other insects were over-wintering. A few bat droppings were found too! The programme, screened on Channel 4 on Sunday 10th December 2006, was extremely well received.

For info.on this amazing little building check out the link >


Photos: Alison Blackler, David Ramden BOT, Chris Richards BOT, Jack Bootle RDF Researcher, Morgen Harper-Brown RDF Location Manager, Frances Ramsden BOT


The Barn Owl Trust is dedicated to conservation & education and does not operate a visitor centre.
Barn Owl Trust staff and volunteers
Waterleat, Ashburton, Devon TQ13 7HU
+44 (0) 1364 653026