A brace of raptors

Jen spotted the local barn owl flying through our garden on Saturday evening. We hadn’t seen it for a while so kept an eye out for it the same time on Sunday. At one point, out the corner of my eye, I caught a split-second glimpse of something light coloured and owl sized shooting past the window. Or, at least, I thought I did. So I rushed outside. Sure enough, there was the barn owl perched about 200 metres away on a fence post on the far side of the field behind the house. I decided to stand perfectly still and wait, and was rewarded a minute later when the owl launched from its perch, flew directly towards me, then swerved and hovered about ten metres directly in front of me in search of a vole. After twenty seconds or so, it headed back across the field, perched on a different fence post, then, about a minute later, dived suddenly into the field on the far side of the wall. It did not re-emerge, so I’m guessing it had made a kill and was enjoying the proceeds. Close-encounters with a barn owls are always a thrill.

The following morning, Jen spotted a male sparrowhawk on our garden wall. It was tucking into some hapless victim that turned out to have been one of the local goldfinches. I managed to sneak outside with my camera. The sparrowhawk was clearly aware I was there, so I kept a discreet distance, inching along the patio to get a better angle. I had to deliberately over-expose to compensate for the horrendous backlighting, and remove a lot of grain in post-processing, but I was pretty pleased with the results.

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