29 October 2006

Barn Owls at Napton

One of the predictions from my 'wish list' post came true today (see here), with the discovery of two Barn Owls on the edge of my patch. Actually 'discovery' is stretching the truth a bit - I had a tip off. But a Barn Owl is a Barn Owl, and I'm thrilled.

It's been a beautiful day, and I had a lovely morning at Napton. The female Goosander is still there, along with many of the usual residents - a large number of Coots (c. 85), a few Tufted Ducks and plenty of Black-headed Gulls. Other birds of note included a couple of Grey Wagtail, a Cettis Warbler (heard only), a plentiful supply of thrushes included Redwing and a Song Thrush, and a field seemingly full of Sky Larks - perhaps only 6 or 8 though.

I drove next to Brandon (past a field containing perhaps 120+ Lapwing) and was pleased to find a few nice birds, albeit again nothing exceptional - plenty of Lapwing, more than 20 Common Snipe, a female Pintail and plenty of Goldcrest, including a rare opportunity to photograph a pair.

In East Marsh Hide I met two old acquaintenance, and it was one of these gents who tipped me off about the Napton Barn Owls. So back I went at 4.30pm this evening and... bingo! There they were. Beautiful pale birds, ghostlike and silent across the fields in the gathering gloom - deadly predators and yet surprisingly easy for Magpies and crows to mob and bully away, something which happened a couple of times.

These were birds I'd wanted on the patch for years, so I stood, watched and photographed until the light had all but gone. Brilliant.

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