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Raise a glass to new beer

PUBLISHED: 18:18 02 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:51 07 July 2010

launch of Old Hushwinds Ale, which has been created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Hawk and Owl Trust. Pic shows LtoR, Nigel Middleton (Conservation Officer), Mark Bristow (Fox Brewery), Teddy Maufe (Branthill Farm) and David Lyles (Chair of Fri

launch of Old Hushwinds Ale, which has been created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Hawk and Owl Trust. Pic shows LtoR, Nigel Middleton (Conservation Officer), Mark Bristow (Fox Brewery), Teddy Maufe (Branthill Farm) and David Lyles (Chair of Fri

Actress Liza Goddard raised a glass to one of Britain's most graceful birds of prey to launch a new beer marking the 40th anniversary of the Hawk and Owl Trust.

Actress Liza Goddard raised a glass to one of Britain's most graceful birds of prey to launch a new beer marking the 40th anniversary of the Hawk and Owl Trust.

The barn owl is one species which has been helped by the trust since its formation in 1969.

And now its ancient name of Old Hushwing has been given to a golden summer ale, unveiled at the conservation body's flagship nature reserve at Sculthorpe Moor, near Fakenham.

The locally-sourced beer is made from North Norfolk barley grown at Branthill Farm, malted at Crisp Maltings in Great Ryburgh and brewed by Fox Brewery in Heacham.

Miss Goddard, the trust's president, said the proceeds from sales would help projects to preserve the barn owl population and reduce the shocking numbers killed on the roads every year.

“The beer is such a good way of raising money because it is so delicious and something people will get pleasure from,” she said. “If people are going to drink beer, why not support local businesses and help with conservation at the same time?”

One pioneering scheme, named Save Wild Owls from Road Death (Sword), is already underway to research barn owl casualty blackspots on Norfolk's roads. The trust then hopes to trial the effectiveness of roadside reflectors and light-triggered sonic deterrents to warn the birds of oncoming headlights.

Miss Goddard said: “The A148 in particular is a barn owl death trap. We see them by the side of the road all the time.

“We have got enough funds for the research and what we need now is more money to get this happening in Norfolk and, if successful, rolling it out nationwide.”

The UK barn owl population was estimated at 12,000 pairs in the 1930s but collapsed to around 4,000 pairs in the 1980s as barn conversions and clearances of hollow trees removed traditional habitats.

Since then, the Hawk and Owl Trust has helped the population back to 6-8,000 pairs by installing nest boxes and advising farmers how to create habitats on field margins.

Nigel Middleton, a conservation officer for the trust, said the Sword scheme could help boost numbers further, with a recent study of 101 barn owls showing 73 had been killed on roads.

“We need to save them,” he said. “We have overcome some of the habitat problems and now we have some money available to spend on research into barn owl fatalities.

“This is a great beer, but it has got a serious side. Let's drink a glass of Old Hushwing and think about what is happening to that poor old barn owl now.”

Old Hushwing will be sold at the Real Ale Shop at Branthill Farm, near Wells, and at Fox Brewery - although Miss Goddard said she also hoped to encourage larger shops and supermarkets to stock it.

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