Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Houseguest with Barn Owl

The houseguest didn't bring a barn owl with him, but facilitated a wonderful wildlife moment.

The badly needed rest had to wait a couple of days whilst I babysat a 6-month old labrador/standard poodle puppy who is still growing and will, I suspect, end up the size of a small Shetland pony. His two-legs were off to see their daughter graduate from Uni and I had promised many weeks ago to look after Fraser whilst they were gone. He's a lovely boy with one of the nicest temperaments you could wish for but he's still a baby who needs a lot of attention.

Yesterday he discovered that he could not walk on water as he strolled straight into one of the ponds. Apart from an unexpected dunking his time in the garden was uneventful and he developed a taste for freshly picked strawberries. He doesn't seem to mind that this year's crop has had too much water, not enough sun and doesn't have a great flavour.

This morning I took him for a long walk down by the River Derwent. About a mile from home I saw a large bird flying the other side of the water. First thought “hmm, another large heron” rapidly followed by “sh*t, that's no heron!” as I realised I was watching a Barn Owl quarter gently back and forth across the field. For over 20 minutes I had the privilege of watching this beautiful bird hunt and the only camera to hand was the phone – hardly adequate.

At one point the bird was calling, well it was more like screeching. I hear the same noise outside the bedroom nearly every night. I'd worked out that it was an owl hunting but not that it was a Barn Owl, I think in future there could be much sitting in the Cottage Garden late at night. I also need to return to this field with a big lens and tripod, apparently Barn Owls are creatures of habit so I may well see it hunting here again.

Two days with a puppy has been interesting. On the one hand he's a huge cuddle-bunny with a cuteness-rating that is off the scale when he's sleepy and calm. Never underestimate the determination of a long snout that wants to snuggle into the crook of your elbow and exhale deep sighs of snoozy delight. On the other hand he has confirmed beyond any doubt that whilst I still love dogs (generally, more than most people I have met), I really love OLD dogs. They're considerably more interesting than young ones and generally, a hell of a lot easier to live with.


  1. Fraser cannot walk on water? That's not surprising. Poor pup didn't know that it took Bilbo YEARS to learn how to do just that when it comes to garden creation. (And if Bilbo isn't walking on water, then she knows where all the rocks are -- because she put them there. LOL)

    Had a screech owl at my old home - certainly was startling the first few times I heard it. At Melissa Majora we're graced with a great horned owl. I leave a window open at night just to hear it call.

    1. Thank you Kris, lovely comment as always :} Our windows are open every night, even when it is freezing or snowing, I just cannot sleep in a room that is all shut up.

  2. How wonderful to see a Barn Owl - I'd been thinking myself lucky to have had woodpeckers!!!
    There is an owl who comes visiting the tree outside my bedroom window from time to time, but I don't know what sort it is and I've never managed to see it....yet!

    AM hoping for good weather now that I've broken up for the summer holidays - the garden is in dire need of some TLC.
    Speak to you soon :-)

    1. Morning Nutty, with all your lovely trees I am not surprised you have a visiting owl. The most likely candidate given where you are is a Tawny (many people call this Brown Owl). When there are a pair (which there usually are), these are the birds which call "t-wit - t-woo". One bird calls 't-wit' and the other answers.


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