Four years later this bird was re-caught as a breeding female in a box 7 miles away. From the ringing data we know that this bird has now reared 35 young since its release – none of which would have been there without Jean’s help and as such, there would be fewer people enjoying sightings of Barn Owls in this and other areas of the country.
Other species she has nursed back to health and released on the NNR include a recent Marsh Harrier and Red Kite. The Red Kite was found poisoned and half dead in the pouring rain, it was thought to be hours from death and given that hypothermia kills most poisoned birds before organ failure or starvation, it would likely to have been dead in the morning had it not been at Jean's under a heat lamp, the prognosis wasn't good but with Jean's track record hope remained. Amazingly the Kite started to fair well, and put on 150 grams during its two week stay with Jean. It soon let her know it was ready to go! Rest of the story can be read here. The Marsh Harrier was found in a farmer's field, unable to take off fully from the ground, Jean was soon on the scene and after a check over she noticed feather damage on both wings, suspected to have been caused by hitting overhead wires. Whilst clearly not causing any major damage it had been left bruised and unable to hunt, as a result of this she was massively underweight for a bird her age, sex and size, on arrival Jean weighed her at 400 grams - massively under the actual average weight for an adult female - over 700 grams - more on this story can be read here.
Jean not only works with birds, but has also cared for many species of animals, and has been involved with the rescue of several young orphaned otters from the Derwent catchment, as well as further afield in Yorkshire. Jean's rescues are followed by a period of critical and expert care before she drives them hundreds of miles to Somerset where they spend a length of time being cared for in specialised surroundings. After the year and a half long process a return trip by Jean brings them back to the local river catchments before a careful and delicate soft release programme which sees the whole process reach a successful conclusion. This was the case of two young otter cubs that were inadvertently disturbed in their holt at Wheldrake Ings by contractors working on the riverside trees. These two were successfully released by Jean at North Duffield Carrs following the year and a half long process in Somerset. The fact that these Otters have had a chance to join the local populations and breed to further boost the population is a real benefit to the population, but once again touches the lives of those people who have been fortunate to see Otters in the local area.
Jean's enthusiasm and passion for wildlife, natural history and ringing is infectious and she always finds time to encourage, help and share her knowledge with others - particularly all the volunteers who pass through the valley and who have the pleasure of working alongside Jean - and getting to see up close some of the stunning creatures that find their way into her care.
If ever such an award was well deserved, it is by Jean, for such commitment, determination, and sheer hard work and at the same time, gentle, caring and infectious enthusiasm which drives others. It really is a pleasure for the team in the Lower Derwent Valley to have Jean on board.
Congratulations Jean from everyone in the LDV!