Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Owls on high

OK Whisper, I give in. You're clearly fine and need a walk!
Whisp was driving Chris, Fox and I crazy in the house and, since her leg was only suffering an infected puncture wound and nothing affecting muscles or bone I decided to let her have a gentle trip out to ease her cabin fever. The swelling has gone now and she hasn't shown any pain for days.

I had to take a trip up to the North Pennines in order to advise a landowner on habitat management for Water Voles and help him with his Agri Environment Scheme application. Farmers are given subsidies through these schemes based on managing their land in a wildlife friendly way.

Whisper and Fox enjoyed the ride as I climbed the steep zig zagging road up into the high moorland. At its highest point this road reaches 1903 feet above sea level. There is a fabulous view from the top. Today was so wonderfully clear that you could see right the way to the sea. I live down at the bottom somewhere towards those mountains in the distance.

While I talked with the farmer, Fox and Whisper had a great time exploring the streams and doing some vole hunting of their own!

Don't worry, they only sniff and never try to grab! They behaved very nicely. See? Butter wouldn't melt!

My poor fingers and toes were about to drop off by the time Mr Dickinson was happy that he had all of the information he needed. Very nice chap, but it is rather chilly standing about in a wet frosty meadow for two hours! I didn't let Whisper run about for that long by the way; didn't want her getting cold too!

Just as I was about to get in the car and head for home, I saw out of the corner of my eye, the familiar fluttering flight of a large pale coloured bird. Barn owls are unusual this high up in the hills, but funnily enough I had seen the barn down the path earlier in the day and promised myself that I would check it out sometime soon.

I couldn't possibly leave now and settled, leaning on a drystone wall, watching as it hunted the rushy tussocks. I ought to offer a prize to the person who can spot the owl on this photo. I didn't have my decent camera with me!

The owl beat its bouncing butterfly patrol up and down the field, quartering systematically. At periodic intervals it would suddenly fold its wings, twist, and plunge down into the yellowing grass. Almost always the owl sprang back up into the air immediately when he missed his target, so when he remained grounded for more than a heartbeat, I guessed that he had succeeded. He appeared from the grass and flew directly up to the broad branch of a Scots Pine where the unfortunate vole became dinner, head first, for a very fortunate owl.

Eventually the owl drifted further and further away and at last I allowed my poor nose to escape the bitter wind. Pausing only to admire the handsome Dales Pony stallion in the next field. He really looks the part up here in one of England's last large expanses of wilderness.


Tammy W. said...

OK Jenny - is that the owl just to the left of the pole - at the edge of the tree line? I would love to have a job like yours - to be out in nature.
I'm glad that Whisp is starting to feel better - she is a striking looking dog with the black down one side of her face.

Rayna said...

If you look smack dab in the middle of the picture, a little bit to the right, left of the pole? And in the bottom one, I'm not entirely sure, but bottom left hand corner? Lovely area!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Seeing as others have already spoken my guess and taken the imaginary prize, I'll just say that one of Rick's clients breeds Dales ponies here in Oregon. Most are black, but they did import semen from a grey UK stallion so have some grey offspring of his on the ground. Their farm name is "Bloomingdale's," which I think is cute!

Mim said...

I found your blog from Nancys Shepards Voice and love to read it. Hope you don't mind that I put a link on my blog to follow yours more closely!

Jenny Holden said...

Well spotted! Owl is only in the one photo, sorry didn't make that clear... hope you weren't peering at photo for ages Rayna!

"Bloomingdales" eh? Are they fancy designer ponies then? :o) I'd love a native pony of my own to ride. Preferably a nice black fell pony.

Thanks for the message Mim, I've just had a really nice read of your blog too :o)

Rayna said...

Nah, I saw a spot and figured maybe it was in the second too! lol. I love "I spy" games...hehehe