Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Thunder owl

When the storm passed over and the sun shone I grabbed the big gun and set off to look for the barn owl. Driving down the lane the sun was shafting through some trees onto a hazy mist rising from the damp fields. With stormy skies on the horizon I was wishing I'd picked up a wider lens too. By the time I parked by the gate the sun had gone. I leaned on the gate and scanned the moss-land through the lens. I soon saw the owl in the distance. Putting on my waterproof over-trousers I decided to try a different viewpoint.

I like the colours - and the fly I hadn't noticed at the time

The owl was still far off as I took a way-marked path along the back of a patchy hedgerow, stopping at each gap to look for the owl and ensure it wouldn't spot me. At the end of the hedge I paused. The owl dropped into the long grass and I hastened over the wooden footbridge and worked my way towards the owl along the edge of a wheat field. The owl popped up and I dropped to my knees to watch it's approach.

Distant barn owl

I couldn't resist some distant shots, but it kept coming closer, and closer. Then it veered off to my right and headed straight for the gate I'd been leaning on. It got very close to the gate before turning back and then heading off through the beech trees. Had I made the wrong decision? I doubt the owl would have gone so close to the gate had I stayed there, so I wasn't too miffed.

 No good larger... ;-)

While the owl was out of sight I crossed a second bridge and sat down on the steps at the end of it. I would keep low and the bridgework should help disguise my outline. The owl reappeared further off and I knelt down in the long grass and thistles. Unfortunately the owl was heading away and continued to do so. Eventually it flew off and away out to the mere. I sat back on the step and waited.

The sky was dark to the west, flashes of lightning coursing over the mere and thunder rumbling. Even so larks and corn buntings were singing. There was no sign of a returning owl so I set off along the path to see where it lead and what there might be to see. The rain and low light was keeping insects in hiding, but the plants were many and varied. When I got level with the place I'd seen the hare on the road the other evening I wondered if I'd see another. I was daydreaming a bit when one materialised and ran off, pausing some forty yards away to sit up and have a good look at me!

The dark area of sky was now heading north, and with no wind I reckoned I was in the eye of the storm, it was darkening in the east too. It seemed a good time to let discretion be the better part of valour and get out of it.

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