Friday, 10 October 2014
In the moonlight with an owl.
We had a BBQ last night. Farmer cooked up some Treshnish fare, and we sat outside eating in the dark with the moon rising from the east and the spectral colours of the dying light falling over the horizon. It was a wonderful end to our working day. You have to take the chances while you can. As we sat outside I could see through the silhouettes of the trees an owl flying round looking as if it were about to settle to roost. Clearly we were putting it off, sitting round the BBQ with candles burning and dogs rushing about.
At bedtime the moon was still so strong and the air so clear, I went a wander with my camera.
The air was so still, and silent. Not a breath of wind. I could hear the waves gently caressing the shoreline below. I could hear stags roaring on the hills behind Ensay, and up here at Treshnish. Apart from that it is so very quiet.
One of the things I really enjoy about the moonlight is the way it intensifies the colours of objects and I wanted to see if I could capture some of the autumn colours so I stood in the veg garden thinking about what I could do, I was in the shadow of the lamb shelter which borders the garden. Not moving, just listening and feeling that quietness. The moon was so bright I did not need a torch. And all the lights in the cottages were off. It was just me out there. Apart from the heron which shrieked down near the sea, it was just so quiet.
And then hovering over my head, literally only a few feet away, was an owl. Hovering. Looking at me. Silently. I could not hear the air pass its wings, it was totally silent, but it was also so close. Looking at me. I was frozen to the spot. Part of me longed to grab the camera and catch it on 'film', but the rest of me knew I would frighten it away. So I stood still and inwardly said hello. It stayed with me for what felt like a few minutes, and then it slowly and silently flew away. A totally magical encounter, which moved me almost to tears.
We think it is probably a barn owl that we hear screeching in the night. This owl was very white as it hovered so close. The screeching we have been hearing recently and the close encounter last night makes me inclined to think it was a barn owl. It was too light for a tawny owl and didn't fly like a short eared owl.