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This month has been one filled with Owls, my dear Mum’s favourite birds. I have to say I’m rather fond of them too, and am really pleased to have some obliging individuals close to home.

I had a choice between a Barn Owl and a Short Eared Owl for this Image of the Month (yes, I finally found a "Shortie"!). After much deliberation I chose this gorgeous Barn Owl (Tyto alba). She locked eyes with my lens momentarily while hunting over a meadow in golden early morning light.

They are perhaps one of the most recognisable Owl species with their heart-shaped face and pale colouring. The distinctive face shape creates the perfect dish to direct sound to their ears and help them locate prey. They also have rounded soft-edged wings with specialised feathers which enable them to fly silently. This is really noticeable on a quiet morning; the only sound was the shutter on my camera!

There are several theories as to how Barn Owls got their name. The most common is that they prefer to nest in barns. One of the more interesting ideas stems from an old belief that they were “ghost owls”, farmers used to nail them to barn doors to ward off evil spirits.

Thankfully, these beautiful birds are rather better understood these days and despite declining with changing farming practices, we are still lucky to see them in our countryside. I even have one which hunts over my garden occasionally!

Canon 60D, 100-400mm lens, f8.0, 1/800, ISO400.

 

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