Monday, 17 September 2007

The sounds of the night

Owls have been on my mind recently and last night an owl was practically perched on my nose. At least, it sounded like it. Lights off at about 11.30, the hooting through the bedroom window was loud and clear. It drowned out the hum of mosquitoes most effectively. The Tawny owl must have been lonely. It called, every few seconds, and there was no reply. So it kept on, hopeful that a kindred spirit would lift its feathered ears and join it for a night's hunting or other pleasures. At 3am it was still going strong, its eagerness for company neither impaired nor dashed. At 5.30 it finally stopped when the cockerels took over.
But a hooting owl is somehow not an irritation. Their extraordinary beauty means that instead of twitching the duvet about in restlessness, I lay in bed and grinned to think that there was an owl so close. And they do get close. Two weeks ago picking blackberries with a friend, reaching into a deep hedge to collect the juiciest samples, a Barn Owl flew out between our heads and off along the hedge line to find somewhere more private for its lurkings. We had been nose to beak, yet hadn't seen this large white and gold owl until it launched itself. Its feathers were scrupulously groomed; as it flew away you could see the perfection of its plumage, the attention to cleanliness and order ensuring a silent flight and good hunting. Later that evening it was seen again travelling up and down the lines of rowed up hay in search of displaced rodents.
Boxes for Tawny Owls and Little Owls have been built and put along the woodland edges on the farm; I haven't yet seen anything enter or leave the boxes, but then I walk during the day and these are nocturnal creatures. Barn Owl boxes will be made and placed in the roofspace of the barns, once there are roofs and rafters to protect and sit them on. It is on the to do list.

8 comments:

Exmoorjane said...

Hi Mopsa....been having a very enjoyable trawl through your blogs... loved the spider webs, have noted down the chilli tomato chutney (sounds fabulous) and generally been fascinated by your longterm blogging - and you're in Devon too! Thank you so much for putting me on your blog-roll, though I should fess up and say I am really in Somerset. But hey ho, what's a county amongst West Country people.
re Rachel Johnson, you are very lucky not to have read her....but then you probably wouldn't have as she wrote (and possibly still does? not sure) in the Telegraph. Ghastly column about her tough life in Notting Hill and her second home on Exmoor (I have a BIG problem with second homes round here)....much bleating about problems with nannies and how tough it is to have it all.
Do you work for The Guardian? If so we might have people in common.

Mopsa said...

Welcome EJ - as an ex-Exmoorite you are most welcome to stay on my Devon blogroll. No, no, I don't work for the Guardian and unlikely to unless they want to employ a half farmer, half arts trainer/consultant. I did google Rachel J and was amazed that the name hadn't floated through the radar at some point, but I do know who Liz Jones is (ditto her execrable husband) even tho I dont do the Mail.

Arthur Clewley said...

catching a barn owl chasing voles along the verge is always a splendid momment mopsa. I was talking to someone about tawny owls once and they told me one actually sat on their neighbours roof and twittiwwoeod the night away from there

GeraniumCat said...

I have been listening to the owls at bedtime, too, here in Northumberland. I'm convinced the tawnies have a sense of humour, in late summer they really wind the dogs up, sitting up a tree hooting smugly.

You've got me worried though - I'll be back in Devon on one of my regular visits next week and I'm expecting to be bitten to death!

Mopsa said...

Hello Arthur - where have you been? Looking forward to your next posting.

Geranium Cat - the mozzies are diminishing in numbers now the evenings are colder, and although they buzz I haven't been bitten for over a week - famous last words!

mountainear said...

Love lying in bed and hearing owls hoot from the trees beyond. There is the occasional pained shriek as some small creature becomes supper to remind us that they are also effiecient killing machines.

Winchester whisperer said...

The moping owl became the Mopsa owl

lady thinker said...

The owls have been very nosiy this side of Devon at night.