Back in my teens, I spent quite a lot of my time volunteering for the husband-and-wife run Midland Owl Rescue. One aspect that wasn’t common knowledge was that the slightly eccentric couple were second to parents for a time as I frequently stayed the weekends for prolong visits at their cottage in Coventry. This was shortly after they were evicted from Blakeland Street in Bordsley Green in Birmingham due to the cost of operating the rescue centre conflicting with mortgage payments. Sad times, but good times too.
Many school holidays and weekends were spent travelling with Bryan, Joan and Sally the dog up and down Britain with a small menagerie of owls doing fund-raising and education outreach at various events. Going as far north as Perth, Scotland- across the Grampian mountains, all the way down to Clacton—on—Sea.
Unfortunately Joan passed away many years ago, and I have my doubts if Bryan is still alive, but I’d hope so. They were both very loving people who I miss dearly.
Incidentally, Bryan was the one who introduced me to the Commodore Amiga that ultimately lead me to taking on the modarchive.com music archival project and creating Modarchive.org that still stands today, albeit hosted now by demoscene radio Scenesat with caretaker responsibilities passed to the chap who wanted the job after I frankly had enough of the unwanted (negative) attention caused by the popularity of the site. I digress.
There is barely (if any) word of Bryan & Joan’s existence online and I wish to change that as I hope to recover some more newspaper clippings as I dig out my scrap books from the attic.
From the article: (1993)
Midland Owl Rescue, run by Brian and Joan Dudley, from their home-turned-wildlife sanctuary in Bordesley Green, is concerned not only with the rescue of owls, but with all species of wild birds. For the last four years, what was once an interest has become a full-time occupation; the back garden is now an open-air classroom complete with a peat bog, a pond and a meadow, and the various large enclosures that house, among other things, owls.
Five species of owl are resident in Britain: the Long-Eared, the Short-Eared, the Little, the Barn and the Tawny. The last is the most common, and every year, something like five thousand are killed or injured by man. Some of the injured end up in the hands of Midland Owl Rescue. Those which are unable to return to the wild are housed in the sanctuary; those which recover are released in a suitable locality.
Midland Owl Rescue’s busiest period is the early summer when many injured or ‘ lost’ birds are found and notified to the centre. The Dudleys’ current menagerie includes an amiable Tawny Owl called Hoots, a European Eagle Owl called Casey, Kestrels, ducks called Dilly and Dally, rabbits called Salt and Pepper, a dog called Sally and a cat named Sophie, which, says Joan, ‘just turned up’. Increasingly, the Dudleys are having to look after birds which are recovered in police operations; trade in birds of prey is big business. The centre also runs a register of missing birds.
Unlike other birds of prey, which must be registered with the Department of the Environment, owls can be kept with few restric- tions. This situation concerns the Dudley’s greatly, since owls can be extremely dangerous; those talons can remove an eye. Unscrupulous dealers see the forced breeding of rare species as a get-rich quick scheme, and birds are frequently stolen from legitimate breeders, zoos and pet shops.
Shady dealers try to increase the birds’ natural birthrate by removing eggs to an incubator so that the birds lay more. One character, recalls Brian, managed to induce an owl to lay eleven, then expressed surprise and disappointment that only four or five hatched. He thought noth- ing of the distress caused to the birds.
Midland Owl Rescue fund their work chiefly by organising educa- tional visits; school parties visit the centre, and Brian and Joan visit schools (over 350 last year!) and other institutions. They are keen to foster in the young an interest in conservation; children are encour- aged to hand le various animals, and in the habitats of the open-air classroom, they learn to recognise some of the wildlife they may encounter in the countryside.
Equally important is the need to make children aware of the dan- gers involved in dealing with birds of prey, at a time when you can buy a Barn Owl in a pet shop and the captive population greatly out- numbers the wild: Equipment for handling bids of prey is called ‘fur- niture; and Midland Owl Rescue supply various items at fair prices.
From April to October, the last Sunday of each month is normally an open day. Midland Owl Rescue are at 56 Blakeland Street, Bordesley Green, Birmingham B9 SXG, telephone 021 772 3244.
On Sunday September 12th, between 2 pm – 4 pm., a sponsored walk takes place, with the money raised being divided between Midland Owl Rescue, and the walk’sorganizers, TheColeValley and Yorkswood Conservation Group. Starting from Shard End, the walk appropriately covers part of Cole Valley. Further informa- tion and sponsorship forms can be obtained by telephoning 749 3131.
YOUNGSTERS at a Solihull school spread their wings to raise money for Somalia. The headteacher issued year eight pupils at Lode Heath School with a challenge to raise money for a disaster.
Opting to help victims in Somalia, the children set about drawing up a programme of fundraising events including a fashion show, a staff against pupils hockey match and a disco. An owl flying display was also organised with the heip of staff from the Midland Owl Rescue.
Gregory Tuby, aged 13, and nine-month old barn owl Hamlet are
pictured with Demelza Millington, also 13 with 12 month old tawny owl Rusty. The team of fundraisers eventually collected £159.99 from their efforts.
Help Save the Owls
PUPILS at Lode Heath School are giving the financially troubled Midland Owl Rescue Centre a timely boost.
Year nine pupil Greg Tuby who works for the charity is collecting money for the centre which is run by husband and wife team Bryan and Joan Dudley.
Greg, aged 14, is using a collection box shaped like an owl and hopes to collect around £400.
Joan Dudley said: “I just can’t say enough about Greg. He’s one in a million and I really don’t know what we would have done without him
“He helps around the centre and his knowledge of the the owls is first rate. His work has been amazing and the financial help from staff and pupils at Lode Heath Schools has been overwhelming.”
The centre is currently looking for a sponsor to help share the cost of looking after the owls. Anyone who is interested in helping can contact Mr and Mrs Dudley on 772 3244.
From left, Duncan Kelly, aged 13, proudly displays the owl-shaped collecting box, Greg Tuby aged 14, with 22-week-old Sophie, and Bryan Dudley with 17-week-old Casey at the Bordesley Green Centre which holding an open day this Sunday starting at 10am.
In other news
Since I am still trying to get back in touch with Bryan (if he is alive) I am sticking some of the titbits I found about him and his possible whereabouts online here. In 2022 he would be 74 years old. I have a twitter and facebook post thread trying to source information.
I can be reached via twitter or email is pe1rrr [at] amsat.org
Bryan Dudley cropped up in an unrelated news report in 2007 some time after Joan had passed. “Couple furious after kids trample on wreaths” reads the title. Bryan appears to have been very active in his community, albeit offline.