I had been told of a Barn Owl that has been around North Cornwall close to where I live; in fact there used to be a breeding pair. I first spotted the bird the day I went to ring the Peregrine chick at Black cliff, the Owl was flying near the barn at around 11.00am, a few days later Mike Stephens and I visited the barn and looked around the floor where we found lots of owl pellets, I then noticed a box located in the roof, I managed to climb up and saw a owl looking right back at me. There was only one I could see and quickly retreated to leave it in peace.

Barn Owl, Cornwall, Winters Evening

A few months later and the odd sighting here and there, then it went to no sightings at all and also the floor of the barn showed little signs of activity on a later visit.

Then one day in early January 2017,  I was walking with my wife Karen and daughter Amy on the coast path not far from the barn, it was a sunny Winter afternoon with the sun getting low in the sky casting a lovely golden glow, I noticed a bird flying low along the hedge row and thought it looked a different shape so looking through my binoculars I quickly identified it as a Barn Owl it then turned around facing me in which the sun illuminated beautifully; no camera typical!! I thought. The barn owl then turned again and went out of sight.

Hunting Barn Owl – Tyto alba

My mission now was to get some pictures…but I needed to work out were it was hunting, its taken until now to understand its territory but I loved the challenge, in that time I have seen it carrying prey, sitting on fence posts and catching glimpse here and there….then this Saturday just gone and a rather miserable day lots of rain and sharp showers it finally cleared at around 4.00pm so I made a quick decision and grabbed my gear, I parked in my lay-by got out of the car and thought it must be near the scrub land as thinking of how the weather has been it must be taking the chance to hunt, and sure enough it flew up in the air about 100 yards from me I watched it and photographed it for a hour as it scanned the scrub……I hope you like the pictures of this beautiful bird.

Story and Images by Steve Johnson SWP