Wednesday, 12 January 2011


BarnOwl, originally uploaded by Christopher Mills.

Where has it gone? It's been (almost exactly) a month since I last blogged and we're in a new year. Not because I've lost any enthusiasm; I've simply not had the time.

Since that amazing first trip to Amberley Wildbrooks, I've managed just two or three outings with camera. A combination of Xmas (and the usual nonsense that goes with it), bad weather and some odd, unpredictable events have limited my opportunities. Even when I have got out, conditions have been poor - the exception being Sunday last, with a beautiful sunny day spent at Amberley. Although not terribly productive, it produced something I haven't seen since August - a Barn Owl sitting on a post! I'm losing hope a little for the male I was following over the summer; I really had expected to see him hunting during the bad weather over the several (camera-less.... no point in that light) days I visited his regular haunts. So this female made the day worthwhile for me. She appeared as the sun was setting, just after an adult Hen Harrier had swept across the Brooks. In fact, at a distance I initially thought it was the same bird returning. She circled over the Northern end before heading West, back whence she came, then settled on a post. I moved a little closer in to get a better view, but kept my distance so as not to disturb her. She eventually glided off toward Coldwaltham.

I suspect that she came down from Pulborough Brooks, possibly one of last year's brood. She is tagged and in my initial excitement wondered if I'd been observing her grow last summer - but it's probably too far and she looks quite different - wings are held further back and a wider face than the Horsham clan. One similarity with the "northerners" is that I spotted her from a public footpath - crucial to any hope of following her through the breeding season. With my local Owls a doubt - I could find myself here very early during May and June instead. Anywhere on private land would need a license, so to find another Barn Owl to follow without that necessity is a bonus.

Hopefully I'll be able to return at the weekend - but the forecast isn't looking good at the moment. I'd like to get an idea of her movements in more detail... and hopefully spot a male in the coming weeks. It would be fab if I get to see another brood of Barn Owls in 2011.

EDIT: Having studied the distant in-flight shots and compared to the Horsham birds, I'm not 100% sure it's a "she"! Could possibly a young male - but the dark crown suggests otherwise to me. Help on definitive ways of gender ID welcome!


  1. Nice to see you have found another barn owl. Your sea eagle was on Meridian TV this evening near Lyndhurst in the New Forest.

  2. Hello,

    I just wanted to take a minute to tell you that you have a great site! Keep up the good work.

  3. Apparently the Eagle settled near Hordle, Hants for a couple of weeks - until it's presence became widely known. Funnily enough, it moved on after a couple of days of hundreds of people lining the surrounding fields...

    There is some speculation that this could become a more frequent occurrence, due to a successful breeding programme in the Netherlands.