Thursday, 4 December 2008

The Wol of Minerva

For some reason, owls have often featured in our holidays. From a Little Owl that sat all day screeching on an Asturian fence like a demonic squeaky toy, through ghostly encounters in the Scottish and Welsh Borders, to the unidentified species that every night spat fat black pellets full of mouse bones down the chimney into the open fireplace of our Dordogne gîte.

One of the best was watching -- in North Norfolk, in broad daylight and from the comfort of a dining room window -- a Barn Owl working the next-door meadow, repeatedly hovering and pouncing, hovering and pouncing, trying to panic some rodent into becoming lunch. It was the kind of moment a BBC wildlife photographer would have spent a week in a wet ditch trying to capture. Another was driving along a valley side at dusk near Jedburgh, when a Barn Owl appeared beside our car, and flew close alongside and parallel to us along the road for several hundred yards, like an outrider.

Unfortunately, I don't have the instincts, abilities or equipment that would turn such moments of magic into photo opportunities, so these owlish images have to stand in for them.

Scops Owl snoozing at the zoo

The Wol of Minerva

Owl skeleton

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