It was slightly warmer today, and still dry with the wind easing so I decided to check out a tip I had received last week regarding a Barn Owl sighting. Helen and I set off around 20:30, parked the car and walked down the path towards the farm buildings.
Rustling in the plantation alongside the path turned into a small deer that ran away from us. It appeared in one of the open rides, and although I am not absolutely sure, I believe it to be a Muntjac from the size and the fact that it was running away, a young kid would have stayed still. There are a few Muntjac about the patch, but they are not frequently seen.
In the field ahead of us was a Hare, sitting alert and looking across at us, they have become my favourite mammal, not sure why but they just captivate me.
We tried to get closer, but it turned and ran away. As I scanned across the field following it I picked up on another lying low in the long grass.
The sun was behind the clouds as it sank in the sky, and this made it a little gloomy. Overhead a group of gulls flew past. They looked like first summer Lesser Black-backed Gulls, on the basis of size and tail pattern.
Part of the field with a cereal crop in it has been left bare, probably seeded with maize that will grow later in the summer, to provide feed for the pheasants and partridges. Yet another Hare was sitting close to the crop, enjoying the last of the sunshine.
This area was very popular with the Hares as we could see another three making a total of six in this small area. We walked along the path checking the location I had been given for the owl, but nothing was showing. As we walked on a kestrel flew across the field. Kestrels are often seen in the same locations as owls, mainly because they have similar prey, but also Kestrels are known to steal prey from the smaller Barn Owl. We watched the Kestrel perch up and view the area, above it the Moon was rising, almost a full moon it always looks quite ghostly at dusk.
We walked away on, and debated where would be the best place to go, in the end we decided to walk back. We stopped again at the location, and suddenly the Barn Owl appeared, it took us by surprise, and I think we surprised it too. It dropped down, flew around the building and then back down the path we had just walked and away. I didn't have time to use the camera, i just watched it fly away.
We walked back, realising that maybe if we had stayed where we were we may have had a better view. We checked the fields where it may have headed but there was nothing to be found.
The sun was now falling away behind the distant trees and hills, the light was weak but golden, and looking across the fields I picked out a very distant Buzzard sitting on the wires, the last rays of the sun lighting up the insulators on the pylons.
We decided to make our way back to the car, and drive around some of the places where we have seen the Barn Owl before. Looking back across to the west the sun was burning up the cloud behind the trees.
We headed down to the A32 disturbing two Roe Deer on the way. Coming back past Plain Farm we checked the fields where there was nothing showing. We stopped at the Mountains Plantation to watch the last of the sunset. The wispy shapes of the clouds adding to the impact of the colours from the setting sun beyond the horizon.
behind us the clouds were pink below a moon now shrouded in mist and cloud.
We drove along Lye Way, and then down past Lye Way farm in the hope of finding something there, but apart from a strange shaped plant in the murk we couldn't find anything. The evening visit had achieved what we set out for the first sighting of a Barn Owl this year. I was concerned they may have suffered with the storms through the winter, so it was great to see one again. Hopefully through the summer their will be more sightings. Pleased we headed back home to catch up with today's Springwatch, what about those Adders?