The city of Bath has been busy celebrating all things ‘owl’ since the start of the Minerva’s Owls of Bath sculpture trail which began last month. Among the 82 perched owl and owlet sculptures, there are 15 roosting beyond the city walls, in amongst the wildlife and natural environment for which owls are more accustomed.
Perhaps, none of these outer city locations is more apt for housing a Minerva’s Owl sculpture than Cumberwell Park. The family-owned golf club has sponsored a Minerva Owl to celebrate their plentiful wildlife, little owls and award-winning approach to nature conservation. Cumberwell Park is a beautiful destination featuring five landscaped golf courses set in 400 acres of beautiful Wiltshire countryside.
Mature deciduous woodland, hedgerows, lakes, streams, wildflower meadows and rough grassland habitats are found here, and they are home to several breeding birds, including kestrels, tawny owls, barn owls and little owls. The nesting owls on the estate are monitored by Dr Emily Joáchim, head of the UK Little Owl Project, one of the charity beneficiaries of the trail, alongside Keith Wright and Jon Keepen, Head of Conservation at Cumberwell Park.
The site’s aptly named ‘Cumberwell Owl’ was decorated by renowned Bath-based Illustrator and Paper Artist, Jessica Palmer. It features stunning depictions of a grass snake, a bat, butterflies, kingfisher, Bath asparagus, wildflowers, owls, an oak tree and more: a reflection of all the wildlife that lives at Cumberwell.
As part of Cumberwell’s owl monitoring programme, The Little Owl Project visited the park in June to check on the progress of owls nesting on one of the golf courses. One nest box was slowly opened to reveal two 13-15 day old owlets and an adult female. The three owls were fitted with a small metal ring, each containing a unique code so that anyone who encounters these wild owls in the future can report this code to the British Trust for Ornithology as part of their ringing scheme which monitors bird movements and survival.
Two is a smaller than average brood, a size which has ultimately been affected by the challenging breeding season for birds following the cold weather in March and a much-reported hot dry summer. Despite these challenges, Cumberwell’s little owls are helped by a local high abundance of beetles, moths and small mammals, making the park’s environmental programme vital for the survival of these little owls, the population of which is rapidly declining in the UK. Proceeds from the Minerva’s Owls of Bath trail will be donated to the UK Little Owl project to help the charity protect this species which has inspired so much fun for visitors and families in Bath and the surrounding area this summer.
As part of the trail, Cumberwell Park has a ‘Name the Creatures’ competition for a chance to win a signed Jessica Palmer colouring book. You don’t have to be a golfer or a member to say hello to Cumberwell Owl. You will be most welcome in their Wraxall Bar & Brasserie if you fancy a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner. Outside, there is a stunning large patio area for an alfresco drink or meal on a sunny day. Wide Eyes cider and perry are available throughout the event and an owl biscuit comes with your hot drink.
If you would like to know more about the Minerva’s Owls of Bath sculpture trail, please visit www.minervasowls.org