A trip up to Leighton Moss has been long overdue, but my, what a surprise, as all the lakes were frozen over still. I thought that this would be a great opportunity to get a glimpse of a bittern or two, but a long couple of hours in the public hide proved fruitless.
So an early return home.....well not quite, might as well cut off on the the Fylde and see whats around Pilling.
When I arrived I couldn't see anything quite literally, as a dense blanket of fog engulfed the scene.
I decided to go and have a chat with a local farmer who I have bumped into from time to time. While we were chatting the mist rolled back and the day was transformed, suddenly I was drenched in glorious winter sunshine. Things got even better as a barn owl decided to land on a post about thirty foot away. This was an every day occurrence for the farmer, but I was trembling with excitement. "Back in a jiffy" I whispered as I left him rather unceremoniously.
The owl was in a small thicket and although it could be seen there was all manner of twigs and small branches obstructing it, but some careful maneuvering brought it face to face with the obstruction now framing the owl perfectly.
If I thought that was going to be the end of things I was wrong. After leaving the farmer I thought I would explore the some of the lanes before going home. Down by a hedgerow I could make out a raptor perching on a disused wagon. At first I took it to be a kestrel, but as I approached closer I couldn't believe my eyes, it was a short-eared owl. I couldn't get close as there was no cover, so it had to be a long distance shot with a heavy crop and simply hope for the best.
So two owls in a couple of hours, not a bad result and it was enough to entice me back a few days later. I pulled the car into a field and got out to have a look round, but as a hot air balloon was descending to land in the same field I decided that nothing was going to be flying with that monster around so I retired to the car for a coffee.
As I was drinking my beverage a barn owl appeared from behind a hedgerow and hovered not ten foot away from the car while the balloon was touching down some fifty foot away. This can't be happening, I grabbed the camera and jumped out of the car and fired of a few shots, but disappointingly I had missed the money shot.
As I was inspecting another field David and Jackie Moreton turned up and as we were chatting a barn owl flew across the road and we were off in hot pursuit apart from David who was suffering a back injury. We lost the owl behind a house, but discovered a little owl sunning itself in on the window ledge of a garden shed, although it wasn't close enough I had to try and get a shot as did Jackie.
While we were busy concentrating on the little owl the observant Mr David announced that the barn owl had flown into an adjacent shed. Well two sheds in the same garden one with a little owl and one with barn owl, now that's a place to live.
So three owl species within a few hundred yards, OK, where's the long-eared and snowy owls then????