From the Eastern Daily Press, a good regional daily. I have heard of having bats in the belfry. I have been accused of having bats in the belfry myself. This is a bit different, and rather nice.
Builders working at a Norfolk school have had to take special care not to ruffle the feathers of one village VIP.
The £1m project at Catfield First School, near Stalham, not only includes plans for a new classroom, hall, library and staffroom… but also a des res in the roof for a resident barn owl.
The work, which started in October, has even been carefully planned to cause the minimum disturbance at the start of the nesting season.
Mary Blackie, headteacher at the 34-pupil school, said: “Barn owls have been roosting and nesting in the roof for as long as anyone can remember.
“Our oldest village resident, Margaret Hubbard, who is 100, did not attend the school, but even she remembers owls nesting here.”
Generations of owls have entered the roof space at the gable end through the same Victorian brick hole, which Ms Blackie said had been specially created at some stage in the school's 150-year history.
“That created an unusual challenge for the builders as owls are a protected species,” she said.
Before work could begin on extending the gable end, local owl experts had to be called in and consulted on the bird's welfare.
Their plan of action included providing a temporary owl box at the far end of the school and building a new hole - using the same Victorian brickwork - into the wall of the extension.
Ms Blackie, who has been the Catfield head since 2003, said: “One of the builders was shocked to discover the owl had not immediately moved out when work started. He peered through the hole and found himself face to face with the owl - it nearly made him fall off his ladder.”
She said work on the extension wall had been accelerated so the new hole was in place for the spring nesting season.
“The owl is still being seen in the area, so hopefully she will be able to nest in the roof this year as usual,” she said.
Somebody I work with has been attacked by an owl four times. Even twice looks like carelessness.
They look so harmless too.