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Tragic end to young owl's 220-mile record flight to Derry from Kerry

By Linda Stewart

Published 09/03/2016

One of the barn owl chicks that was ringed in Co Kerry in 2015
One of the barn owl chicks that was ringed in Co Kerry in 2015

A young barn owl that set a new record for the longest recorded distance travelled by the species in Ireland has been killed.

The bird winged its way from Kerry to Londonderry - more than 220 miles as the crow flies and double the distance of any previously recorded barn owl within Ireland.

Unfortunately that incredible journey was to be its last.

The juvenile owl met a tragic end as a road casualty on the Limavady Road and was picked up by Brian Hegarty, a volunteer barn owl fieldworker with Ulster Wildlife.

Barn owls are rare in Northern Ireland, with fewer than 50 pairs left in the wild.

The barn owl was identified by the special metal ring on its leg which revealed it had been fitted as a chick last July, at its nest site near Farranfore, Co Kerry, by John Lusby from BirdWatch Ireland.

"I couldn't quite believe the news when Brian contacted me," John said.

"The bird was one of four chicks that we ringed at a traditional nest site in Kerry in July 2015."

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