Sunday, 27 February 2011

Live owl, dead owl and owl pellets.

Owls featuring large again. Had a wonderful half term in Norfolk visiting family in Claxton and Strumpshaw and enjoyed watching the local barn owl hunting along the hedgerows alongside the chapel. Managed to go out with the children and catch the owl sitting on a tree branch, alert and ghostly in the dimming evening light. It then launched itself silently up over the hedge before dropping into the grass by the track alongside the horse field. We waited for five minutes but on looking alongside the hedge we couldn't find the owl so it must have dropped low into the lane and headed away and down towards the stream. Used some of the time in Norfolk to catch up with my artwork in preparation for my exhibition in Wells Museum in a week ( - and so sat in the conservatory late into the night gluing mouse bones to a postcard, probably earlier victims of the very same barn owl we watched hunting earlier as the pellets came from the nearby derelict barn.
On setting off back to the west-country, from Loddon after a cafe lunch, I pulled over on the main road between Loddon and Claxton to investigate some roadside feathers. My long suffering family waited in the van while I retrieved a dead tawny owl, clearly the result of an unlucky meeting with a vehicle. It seems incredible that such observant creatures can be hit by a car but I suppose whilst hunting along the roadside they must get fatally confused by the headlights. On closer inspection it was also apparent that the owl has a deformed claw although I doubt this affected it's hunting ability as the other claws are needle sharp and the bird seems in fine shape, apart from being dead.

Other news, spring buds appearing on the fruit trees, Somerset slightly ahead of Norfolk in spring flowering plants and the pond now has ten clumps of frogspawn in it. My neighbour also tells me that there is a Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) living in their garden and that it gets feisty with it's own reflection in their downstairs window. I have been looking out for it all afternoon but haven't seen it yet, not surprising perhaps as it's Britain's smallest bird, a crown I had mistakenly believed was owned by the wren so something new was learned today.

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