Well it feels like summer has been and gone, the wind is up and biting and I can't help but notice leaves gathering along the drive I go down to work and then the rain sets in. I actually love the varied weather we have in the UK although it did me no favours last week when I was carrying out an Owl Prowl for the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. The idea was a leaisurely walk around my local patch which has three owl species living on it and chat about there ecology and lives and maybe a possible glimpse of one or two.
On the night before I decided to go and see if I could see any of the Barn Owls I had been involved in ringing a month previously. The male bird has been roosting in an old derelict barn whilst the female and young have been using a pole nest box and I had been reliably informed the male usually appears about 8.30pm. The male bird didnt disappoint as he came curving out of the barn and off down the maize field in the direction of the nest box, I made my way down the bridle path which eventually runs adjacently to the nest box. I soon heard the shrill hissing shriek of a young Barn Owl begging and then over the hedge row not two but three Barn owls made there way down the bridle path and off onto the meadows, I decided to go and find a nice spot with a good view of the lower meadows and the nest box and wait for the owls to return, within 10 minutes the first owl appeared gliding across the rough grassland up away from the nest box and then another owl appeared quartering the lower meadow then plunging into the grass before rising and following the first owls path. They must have been the adults because in a large Oak tree the third owl landed hissing and shrieking while looking in the direction of where the adults had gone, I had a great view of it through my binoculars until it got better and the youngster flew up onto the nest box. It sat there swivelling its head before it locked its stare onto me tucked into the hedge and flew straight towards me and just 20ft above my head, as it passed over I made a light squeak through pursed lips and the owl did a near 180 degree turn to fly back over my head and off back down the meadows. I decided to leave the owls in peace, and wander back to the car, now if my guests on the Owl Prowl could get that sort of experience it would be money well spent.
Sadly this wasn't to be the case as the weather the following night was terrible for owls, we didnt quite have the heavy rain expected but it blew a gale and we had showers. The three participants that braved the weather seemed to enjoy the walk despite the weather and we managed to hear the resident Little Owls but sadly no Barn Owl sightings and the winds ruined any chance of hearing the Tawny owls in the woods.
I will be holding more bird of prey related activities on my local patch, hopefully the weather will be with me and I can show my guests the same experiences I have had on my patch. Watch out for updates!