A Barn Owl and a Stunning Sunset

On 7th and 8th of October, Short-eared Owls were reported back at Papercourt Meadows. So we got our layers on and headed off to the meadows for a Sunday evening walk. We arrived around an hour and a half before dark, and set off around the field. We could see a few twitchers already waiting, which was a promising sign of their presence, but the twitchers seemed to be looking more for the Barn Owl than the Short-eared. Regardless, we headed over to the opposite side of the reserve to our favourite spot to see if an owl was around.

As we crossed the meadows, we came across numerous small groups of small birds. When they settled on the fenceposts, we realised they were in fact Meadow Pipits and Stonechats. The pipits were looking particularly healthy, which is a good sign.

Meadow Pipit

When we reached our spot, the light was already fading quite quickly. We stood and waited for a bit, but soon realised that actually the owls may not still be here. It had been a few days since the last sighting, and the likelihood is they might have just used Papercourt as a stop-off before heading further south. But as we turned back we saw an owl. Not a Short-eared, but a Barn Owl, hunting around the area that we had started our walk. We hastily began to walk back towards the first area. Around half way back, we saw the flash of white feathers again. The owl was moving around the bottom end of the reserve, crossing across the river every now and then into different fields. By the time we reached a good spot, our attention was turned to the sky. An incredibly vivid orange-pink sunset was developing, like something you would expect to see on an African savannah. The sky looked like it was on fire!

And, to top it all off, the Barn Owl appeared! It flew around us for 10 minutes, seemingly oblivious to our presence. At one point, it got really close. It was obviously so focused on hunting, it didn't realise we were so close. A hunting Barn Owl and an African sunset. It can't get much better!

Yet again Papercourt produces a brilliant evening's walk!


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