Enid Blyton couldn't have written a more exciting adventure if she’d tried! Late last night an anonymous tipster, who we will call Pete L, alerted me to news of a local Barn Owl. It had apparently been around for a while too. Some time was spent poring over satellite maps and the conclusion reached was: it could very well be visible FROM the patch.
A frantic spell of Texting, Emailing and What’sApping (is that even a word?) ensued and a plan emerged. Five intrepid patchworkers arranged to rendezvous tonight at various points along the route and finally converged on the locale.
@randombirder, @leevalleybirder (for whom this was an actual full fat tick), @porthkillier and I were on one side of the River Lea, we could see @stuartfisher16 (there’s a lot of them!) on the other side. To say we were all a Twitter would be an understatement.
Dave B caught the first glimpse of something white floating around the marsh and, after the synapses had connected blurted out ‘There it is’. Fortunately, a couple of minutes later, it reappeared and drifted around for a minute or so, enabling all of us to see it and send me racing for the bridge back across the Lea. Another minute or so and I saw it from the right (Essex) side of the bridge, it was on my patch list. #199 Jonathan N was fractionally behind me and Dave quickly followed but the bird had drifted off South over the bushes and out of sight. It finally did the decent thing and came back into view even allowing Graham H (who is far more laid back, and possibly stunned by his first Barn Owl, to add it to his patch list too.)
We were all basking in the post-tick reverie when Jonathan shouted ‘It’s coming back, it’s flying across the river,’ indeed it did and ended up sitting in a small tree on the East marsh, squarely ON the patch. The light was going a bit by then and my ‘Live Tweeted Photo’ drew the usual, and probably deserved, opprobrium. Hopefully the videographers in the party will be able to post something decent a mere few inches below this:
There have been one or two recent-ish claims of Barn Owl in the area but none have ever been substantiated and you would have to go back probably over 30 years before the last record, seen by a friend of mine, who has recently and sadly deceased. I’m not sure if I ever realistically expected to 'get this one back', but if I had, this is probably the scenario I would have envisaged. I expect I will be envisaging it again tonight, tucked up under a nice duvet and with a big smile on my face:-)
As we walked back to the car it was quite amazing how elated we all felt, a terrific ending to a long day for all of us (even if that was spent in bed by one of the party), such a simple thing but one that will live long in the memory. Given me a hankering for lashings of Ginger Beer for some reason?