As I wander the lanes and tracks of the east midlands I am sometimes blessed with a sighting of a barn owl. There are often images to conjure the very essence of a place. Usually they are reduced to the level of sports teams or a flag of some kind, but for me the presence of this bird captures the spirit of the lands I walk. From the Fens to the east to the rolling fields and hedgerows between woodlands I have seen the distinctive whites of the barn owl and every time I have been close to one in flight I have not caught the sound of the wing beats.
My latest sighting was during the week. I decided to take a short drive to a nearby woodland to wander for a couple of hours. It seemed fortune was smiling on me as I had the darkness of the country lanes to myself, unlike most motorists I take the opportunity to drive more slowly when there is no need to keep with the flow of the traffic. I find I am able to relax and take in more of my surroundings. The headlights picked out an occasional aging rural home among the hedgerows and fields as I rolled down the country lanes. In the distance was the dark bank of woodland trees sitting below a clear night sky where the call of the tawny owl would be there to greet me on my arrival. Rounding a gentle corner I noticed a familiar white shape within the naked branches of a winter tree. The barn owl barely cast a glance at me, but remained still aside from a turning of the head to survey the land around us, no doubt keeping a look out for the next mouse of vole to break cover. I slowed as much as I could by dipping the clutch and coasting to reduce the engine noise as well as prolonging the sighting but I had no wish to stop and disturb the bird.
Once I had passed beneath the owl I lifted the clutch and regained a little speed. My thoughts passed to other bloggers who seem to enjoy the sights and sounds of an owl within the night. From Casey at the Snapping Twigs blog , to Earthen Magic down in the southern hemisphere and Lloyd Kahn over in California. It seems the humble owl holds a special place and a certain company for those who are willing to wander and perceive in the darkness. I have added the links for their blogs below should you wish to visit. I should also pass on a thank you to my friend Dan's daughters Ella & Rosa who accidentally gave me the nickname I write this blog under.