Catching up 1 – half an hour with a barn owl

An absence of blog posts for the last few weeks has been remiss of me, so a couple of catch up posts are warranted.
Back in February on one of the first days of the year that yielded any promise of spring to come, I set off on a walk in the low angled sunshine of a Sunday afternoon. My route took me close to the known winter quarters of a local barn owl and from a distance through binoculars I could see it was in residence, peering out from the shadows of its derelict roost site onto the long dry grass of the set aside field before it.
Some twenty minutes later I had circumnavigated the roost and carefully settled behind a fallen log in the shadows of the woodland scrub that bordered the field, hopeful of a prime position to watch the bird as it emerged to hunt. A few moments waiting and out it came, perching on a post for a minute before setting off across the meadow.

Round and round it quartered the field, silently passing above the grass at a height rarely more than 3 or 4 metres, head surveying with eyes and ears for signs of rodent life below. It struck occasionally, pausing in the air then diving down into the grass, though with no obvious success. After a thorough exploration of the field, it passed over my position and left to reconnoitre hunting grounds to the north.

 I too moved on and explored paths and fields still puddled from the winter rain, the orb of the sun now descending behind bare winter branches, filtered through bubbling cloud that drifted across its face.

Back into the woods and I came upon a Muntjac. She saw me but didn’t seem threatened and continued to feed as I crept closer. Our shared moment of existence finally ended when I passed through an invisible boundary of tolerability. She sprang away, then barked a call as I strode on into the approaching twilight.

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