Tawny Owls – and other birds

I have been walking Ned in the early evening recently – which since the clock change is obviously about 5pm. I often hear Tawny Owls during the night and yesterday I heard a loud call of an owl in a mature oak tree off to my right, matched with another in the woodland over a field to my left. I didn’t have my binoculars but the owl must have been a matter of yards away, judging by the clarity and proximity of the familiar “hoo…hoo-hoo-hooo”. I stood and watched, seeing if I could make out any shape on the outer branches, but then the owl flew out of the tree and a few feet over my head as it headed off across the field, presumably to commune with the other owl over there. I heard a third call in the mix too, and it was just wonderful to hear them, and be able to recognise the call of the bird I’d fleetingly seen a few moments before.

I’m not someone who feels particularly down to owls but this was amazing as I’ve never seen one flying in the wild. Barn Owls were common for a few years when I first moved to the farm cottage but they vanished in 2020 and I’ve not seen – or heard – them there since. I heard Tawny Owls in the trees lining the road, and once found one in a lay-by that had been hit by a vehicle but there seems to be a really active population here where I am now, so I’m hoping I will get to know the new birds here as I get familiar with my patch.

I am gently getting back in to some drawing, and now have more of my art equipment accessible in my room now that the work on the house is coming to an end. I took myself to a local farm shop today and had a light lunch in the cafe courtyard. It seems a bit desolate with all the poultry shut away due to the housing order for avian flu, but the Jackdaws and House Sparrows were enjoying the crumbs from the table.

I’d managed to position myself at a table which was nice and handy for the dog, but did mean I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a couple of ladies about my age, discussing their children’s further education options and I had to stop myself interjecting with agreement. I focussed on drawing but all I had in my bag was a tiny pad and a biro which didn’t look terribly convincing but I thoroughly enjoyed studying and watching the birds as they hopped about close to me. I am so keen to get back in to sketching and workshops; it’s so relaxing to observe them noting their shapes and characteristics.

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