Nature group celebrates 15th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 15:46 07 January 2015 | UPDATED: 15:46 07 January 2015

YACWAG

YACWAG

Archant

IT IS all too easy to lose sight of the world around us when charging here, there and everywhere, but a nature group is celebrating 15 years of work, early morning starts and breeding.

Yatton and Congresbury Wildlife Action Group, commonly known as YACWAG, has developed quite a following since its inception in 1999.

It formed with the sole intention of creating nature reserves in the two parishes, while raising awareness of the need for nature conservation.

Back in 1999, YACWAG bought its first 10 acres.

Fast forward 15 years and the group can boast 10 fields, charity status, management of the Strawberry Line between the villages and more than 200 members. It has been a meteoric rise.

While the group is mainly supported by nature enthusiasts and bird-watchers, one keen supporter of the group is presenter and broadcaster Chris Sperring MBE. Chris, who lives locally, has been instrumental in YACWAG’s campaign in recent years to support barn owls.

Attempts from 2000-2002 to increase the local population of barn owls faltered due to kestrels but in the past five years the group has enjoyed far more success.

Barn owls like to nest in man-made structures and sometimes they struggle to find a good place for breeding.

With national populations of barn owls fluctuating from 9,000 to just 3,000 in a bad year, YACWAG decided to do its bit.

In 2009, owl boxes were installed by YACWAG volunteers, leading to the birth of eight owlets.

Poor weather in recent years has hampered the group’s work but in 2014 it enjoyed its best year to date.

Three nests were made in YACWAG’s owl boxes, producing 13 baby owlets. And there was some good fortune too with its boxes at its Kenn Moor site unexpectedly yielding two tawny owls.

YACWAG chairman Tony Moulin said: “It has been a wonderful privilege to see these amazing birds returning to the countryside around North Somerset and to know that we have played a part in that. Farmers and other land managers can help them survive by leaving margins of long grass around their fields and providing suitable nest sites.

“We are also aware that if the owls are thriving so are many other species. The non-intensive management of our fields has allowed wild flowers, butterflies and insects like grasshoppers to increase too, as well as providing over-wintering habitat for hundreds of snipe.”

YACWAG hopes its first 15 years are a sign of its vital work and ability to grow in future. For more information, visit www.yacwag.org.uk

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