If we cancelled every walk because the
weather forecast was bad we would quite likely never leave the house. This
morning for example we had heavy, black stratocumulus clouds all around and the
threat of even more downpours to keep the Weald as it is right now, covered in
thick sticky mud.
My brief today was to find 'she who must be obeyed' a Barn Owl. Right now they are as rare as rocking horse pooh and besides, it looked like rain and owls don't like rain – where and how on Earth was I going to produce a Barn Owl out of thin air? In the past year or so we've seen one. About 0.2 of a second's view, in the pitch dark. There were several places we could try but we've been to them all lately and not seen one, so I took a chance on where I know Short-eared Owls like to congregate, and that is, along the River Adur between Henfield and Bramber.
The bike was running beautifully and when we got to St Peter's at Beeding we didn't really want to stop and get off. By 10.15am though we were togged up and off on a 10 miler taking in Windmill Hill, South Tottington Sands and Woods Mill Nature Reserve with a plan to get to the river Adur late in the day.
The south bank of the river was thick mud with evidence of flooding having happened of late, so it was very hard, slow going which we powered with tea and banana Soreen. Finally Bramber church was back in view and with five minutes of our walk left, there, not 2 minutes from our start point, sitting on a fence post looking at us was a bloomin' Barn Owl. We watched enthralled as it bobbed around the field and hunted in the long grass and congratulated ourselves on being two very lucky people. After being completely decimated in the snowy winters of 2012 and 2013 this species is now making a come-back and last year's breeding season was a real success. Let's hope they become a more common sight again soon, 'cos we love 'em.