Thursday, 20 September 2012

Searching for a Barn Owl

BARN OWL (TYTO ALBA), one day my offspring will nest in this tree
Well a few posts ago I reported a Barn Owl calling on the roof of my house. The search was on to find this bird. Not many fields around here where I live, so an easy such luck. Many searches of possible sites at various times didn't locate the owl, I did find a Little Owl spot but no Barn Owl. It did get me wondering during the search why with so much available habitats I was struggling to find a Barn Owl but also noted the lack of Kestrels. I swear I used to be able to select from at least eleven different locations for Kestrels, nowadays 2 "sometimes" locations by which I mean it might be there, it might not.
So one morning I opted to use the van (more space and comfy) and got out at 05:00 and decided to stake a tip off I had from a horse rider the previous day. It got to about 08:30 and rush hour on the roads began to start, I needed a coffee to kick start me for the rest of the day. I had to go through part of a country mansion's ridiculously long drive way that doubles as a through way for the public. I had to give way to an oncoming car, glad I did because I caught the glimpse of a "white bird". I didn't get to excited as the previous day the field in which my white bird flew into had just been ploughed and was attracting alot of gulls.
I parked the van up and wound down all the window (not electric..git) and made sure I wasn't in the way of other traffic. It wasn't long before I drew the attention of the security guards at the house. I explained what I was doing and instead of the usual "get lost mate", I was treated to a full report of the fields in which the owl was hunting, times of day and sadly where it's nest box was. Didn't like to be told where the box was, only because next time they could've told the wrong type of person, does that sound churlish? Though I was told the fields you can't actually get in them (access via the mansion only) and due to "Health and Safety" wouldn't be allowed in them either. The hedges on the perimeter of the field next to the main road are to tall with no gaps to peer through. So I politely asked if I could re-position the van in an attempt to get a flight shot as it went from field to it's nest box, permission granted...yippee! Waited a bit, nothing, then a "beep", a car horn, I glanced behind me to see it was the security and they were pointing to their left, Barn Owl, I repositioned the van to slowly/carefully to get a flight image, but the bird seemed a bit spooked (obviously my car and the security vehicle had worried it) and it perched on the the fence post you see in the image. It stayed their for 3 frames before disappearing, it didn't return that day. Obviously the fence around the tree is to protect it from deer munching on it. I've gone back several times since finding/stumbling upon it and it seems to come out very late in the evening (19:30'ish) and saw it at 06:30 once in the morning.
Sadly given the nature of the site (very private) I'm not revealing to location, but there are a few clues for anyone familiar with Northamptonshire, not least the ring fenced trees and deer...I also removed the metadata and slipped a few red herrings on the metadata to..SORRY. Not the Barn Owl I was originally looking for, nor in the locations but thanks a horse rider I got a Barn Owl in a spot I wasn't expecting. I did bump into the lady on the horse and said thanks. She then told me about how if she's on her horse she can often get really close to many birds before they fly off. I guess that's because the birds don't recognise the "human form" straight away....


  1. Nice one mate, always good when a bit of detective work pays dividens, oh great image too!

  2. Cracking shot Doug; and what a change to meet a security guard who ain't a jobsworth.

    Perhaps you should get a horse to go birding with? lol

  3. Cheers Paul I think you know better than anyone that a bit of detective work can produce good results and equally frustrating results. HM: I know sometimes security guards can be real proper jobsworth, these guys even got on a radio to check it was ok! But they were friendly, and did once get on horse but strangely spent more time on the ground then the horse....never again :D