Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

Not on the Agenda


I was in a meeting the other day, in a first  floor office when I spied, out of the corner of my eye, an owl, it was roosting under the eves of the neighbouring building. I was very excited, my colleagues less so.

Night flyer, sleeping

It’s a tawny owl I think, according the the RSPB website it’s the size of a pigeon, well its a bloody big pigeon, to give some scale to the shot the pipe it’s perched on is a standard size overflow pipe, I’d have said it was more the size of a small chicken. (a friend tells me that ‘owls are like duvets, all fluffy and puffed up’ So maybe that’s the answer, this is all fluff and no substance: now I have a mental image of the RSPB lining birds up for an identity parade, feathers off, golden eagle to the left of line, goldcrest to the right.

Down below the snoozing owl the street was busy, workmen were using a pneumatic drill a few yards away, it seemed unperturbed ruffling it’s feathers occasionally and having a look around every now and then. It was a bit of a distraction, for me  at any rate, but then I’m easily distracted from any agenda. Obligingly the owl was sitting out the day in his/her somewhat exposed roost site so I was able to sneak back later to take these photos,

Night flyer, sleeping 2 

They’re not the best, but I had to be a little discrete, leaning out of the first floor window brandishing a long lens would not have done me any favours with security, as it is I’ve already got a bit of a reputation.


Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

15 thoughts on “Not on the Agenda

  1. Lucky you! I’d would have been over the moon to have seen it as I’m fascinated by owls but have only very rarely seen any in the wild.
    Your friend is right about them being fluffed up birds making them look bigger than they are. xx

  2. We have several local owls. Often, at night, I will find myself following one as it swoops down the lane and exits into the woodland. It seems enormous. One sits on the cable outside the house – our son watches from his bedroom, if his curtains are open in the morning we know it has been an owl night. They have very noisy periods too, which I love. Much nicer than screeching foxes – and less messy!

  3. When I was a kid there was a barn owl (or even a dynasty of barn owls – I don’t know how long they live) that perched on top of the dormer of my brothers’ bedroom. I could watch it from the dormer of mine.
    Most of the village being ribbon development, the tops of the houses must have been ideal stopping off points between the fields.
    And, of course, reading The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark at school made it even better.

  4. What a treat! I would have been as distracted as you. I’ve always wondered about that RSPB description, which of course is nonsense. (Very) large woodpigeon maybe. But it is true that under their feathers they are surprisingly small – you can easily cup a tawny’s body in your hand. In that sense a tawny IS about the size of a pigeon. The head and legs give the “extra” weight – in all around 500-550g, and can be less – while a (feral) pigeon is 350-400g.
    Nice pics. Let’s hope it’s alright and not seeking such shelter because it doesn’t feel well.

  5. What a great distraction from your meeting! A couple of years ago, a Cooper’s Hawk (http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Coopers_Hawk.html) started to hang out on the building opposite my office window. He quickly became my department’s mascot – we called him Super Dooper Cooper and would always check for him in the morings, and cheer when he caught a pigeon. Some people from other departments found excuses to visit us more often than usual, while other people were completely clueless as to why we were so excited. He left in the autumn, and then I left that office… I’ll have to ask them if they’ve seen him again!

    Sarah – I LOVED that book! Wasn’t the owl called Plop?

  6. I think you’re right – the owl who was afraid of the dark was called Plop. We have a story CD of it and have listened to it several times in the car on long journeys.

  7. Lucky you!! A wonderful distraction, and great capture.

  8. How cool was that. I’d have been distracted too.

  9. Your photos of the little owl are just beautiful. What a delightful distraction and gift. Owls are just about my favorite birds, except wrens. Thank you for sharing it with us, and the gorgeous spider webs from the previous post, too.

  10. Oh yes, I’d have been the same! Very exciting to see an owl in the wild in the daylight. I possibly could see a tawny owl if I made the effort. I know a tree where they are said to nest. The front door is clasic, just like in all the bird id books. I just don’t fancy hanging round this particular wood in the dark or dusk. I have been stopped by the police in this wood once already. You see, I too have a reputation with the security services! I was only bird-watching, but the copper wanted to know why I was loitering by someone’s back fence with a long lens trained on their house. Well, it was actually trained on a couple of chaffinches, but it was difficult to prove that. It so happened I had no bird id books in my pocket that day. And when the pressure was on it was difficult to sound knowledgeable about even chaffinches! Well done for being discrete.

  11. You have a barn owl near your house. Ive seen him.
    He was out early in the morning last Sunday.

  12. Isn’t that great. I would have loved to see him sitting there, unperturbed by all the noise below him, knowing he was safe up there. Great shots!

  13. Like so many others said, you’re very lucky! I’d be beside myself to see an owl just sitting outside… and my little digital camera that I keep with me would be drained before I stopped taking photos. We have hawks that live in our area and I’m always in awe when I see them, either sitting on top of a light pole or majestically flying/gliding around. I never get tired of seeing them.

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