I find that the majority of wildlife encounters are truly enchanting, but some more so than others.
Alongside the kingfisher, I have recently developed a fascination for owls too. I have never seen an owl close up in the wild until this year when I saw a tawny owl at ‘Parrots Drumble’ nature reserve in Staffordshire. Thanks to local owl expert and enthusiast David Nixon, I have seen more tawny owls as well as their chicks in the woodlands of Staffordshire. Seeing such a beautiful bird which we often hear but rarely see is breathtaking.
There are many species of owl in England including the tawny owl, barn owl, long earred owl, short earred owl and little owl. I have always had a little soft spot for the little owl but had never seen one. With Davids advice, I set off to a farmyard in the Staffordshire area one evening. Dave told me exactly where I would see the little owl, so I parked up on a bit of gravel and waited for dusk which is when little owls hunt.
I waited patiently keeping my eye on the top of the barn, tin buildings and telegraph poles. I turned to look at a telegraph pole behind me and as I turned back I saw a silhouette on top of one of the farmers building. I knew from the outline that it was a little owl. A very dumpy shape on a pair of spindly legs. Once again it took my breath away. He flew onto the building next to me, then onto the telegraph pole behind me before flying away over the fields. He arrived at around 9.05pm and was gone by 9.15pm. I didn’t manage to get any decent photos due to the lack of light, but just seeing this very cute character was enough for me.
Then just as I was about to start my engine, a barn owl flew right in front of my car windscreen and into the barn next to me. I’m certain my heart stopped for a few moments at such a close encounter. You just can’t beat experiences like this!
Seeing both a little owl and barn owl in one night has to be a definite highlight of my summer holidays. I had a big smile on my face all the way home that night.