ENDANGERED barn owls at Bere Marsh Farm have been saved from the threat of homelessness as winter approaches, thanks to carpenters, tilers and scaffolders.

In a matter of weeks, this team swiftly managed to put a new roof over the heads of the barn owls at the Blandford farm, protecting them from the cold clutches of winter.

Bere Marsh Farm Manager, Elaine Spencer White said: "We are both relieved and delighted that the owls are now safe for many years to come. We could not have asked for a better repair team. Not only was their work superb, but they had to do it within a very tight time frame and, most important of all, without upsetting or disturbing the resident male owl.

"The team have even patched up the male's nesting box inside the barn which had become a bit dilapidated over the years. I think they developed quite a soft spot for him as he regularly flew around them whilst they were working."

Sam Watts, one of the two carpenters from Saxon Roofing Services, said: "Without doubt this was the most exhilarating and challenging job I’ve worked on since becoming a carpenter. The male owl was just phenomenal to see flying so close to us whilst we were working. He’s got such a personality and it was a joy and privilege to work on such an important job."

The race against time wasn't the only challenge faced by the farm.

The barn restoration presented a tough dilemma for the Countryside Restoration Trust, who purchased the farm earlier this year.

An appeal was launched to raise the necessary £30,000 for the new roof – but only half the sum was raised by the time the deadline arrived.

Elaine said: "We took a deep breath and went ahead in the hope and belief that the huge affection in which the local community holds the owls would take us a lot nearer to our target."

CRT Fundraising Manager, Hayley Neil added: "It was a tough call to proceed with the work when we did but we are glad we made it. The precious owls are now safe and we are confident that in the coming weeks we’ll reach our target. We’ve certainly raised enough to pay for the crucial first phase of work."

The barn owls are regularly spotted at Bere Marsh by passing families, hikers and cyclists using the trailways and paths which criss-cross the 92-acre farm – making them a much loved feature of the surrounding countryside.