It's nice when life is predicatable with things running smoothly and this week at least, the owls of Prestwick Carr have been keeping a regular timetable. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Short eared Owls flying at 4.30 followed by Barn Owls at 5.00 with one to four of the former and two of the latter. The only problem is they're waiting till dark which I know may seem an unfair criticism for an owl but perhaps the Short-eareds be made aware that they often fly in daylight. Anyway, despite the lack of good photographs yesterday was spectacular as four SEO's mobbed a Buzzard perched in one of the bushes before disappearing after five or ten minutes as indeed they had done every other night to be replaced by two Barn owls who appear from Prestwick village and after a brief perch in the south east corner hunt their way across the field, over the bumpy track and into the wood. Not long extended views but precious moments (that could be a song!)
Tonight I turned up at 3.30 and just as I walked up the bumpy road I spotted two birds in the distance. Typical, SEOs flying early and overcast dull conditions. Perhaps that's why. Anyway persued the pair up and down the road for about half an hour getting some poor shots but some excellent views. At one stage was trying so hard to get the photo that I didn't notice a Deer that had been flushed from the centre of the field and was heading off in the other direction.
Was joined by another birdwatcher then Bill and we all got some great views as up to four birds hunted back and forth in front of us. It was coming up to five pm so Bill and I focused on the south east corner for the arrival of the Barn Owls. The other birdwatcher decided to stay for the event and he was glad he did. The first Barn Owl duly appeared on cue and hunted off to the east then moving over the field towards us it flushed a Short Eared Owl and there was a brief squabble before both birds disappeared. There was some calling and we focused in the almost total dark to see what was happening. Then, fifty yards into the field the Barn Owl appeared flying at rush top height down the fence line towards us. It kept coming, and coming, and coming and then rose up over the gate ten feet in front of us forcing the other two to drop their bins as it banked away left and with a flap was gone. The image of that pure white underside just feet away and the fact that I actually heard some sound as it flapped its wings will remain with me forever. Also that brief moment of fear when it just didn't stop coming and looking directly at us I felt the possibilty of an Eric Hosking type accident (the only way I'll get myself and the great man in the compared in the same sentence). I was transfixed and the camera was switched off so no photo but both eyes still intact!