Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Hunters in the snow

No brainer question of the day;
"Wash the kitchen floor or go for a walk in the snow with Cliff?"

We've just got back from a short walk across the fields on the edge of the village . . .

The snow has frozen and is scrunchy underfoot; sheets of ice cover the puddles and rivulets of water run beneath the frosty panes.

Just behind the churchyard we disturb a Muntjak deer, it turns in a scatter of snow and is gone. We follow the field margins, the straw coloured grasses stabbing through the snow, and look for animal tracks as we make our way across the smudgy landscape. A mouse had made tracks back and forth between two tunnels in the snow-capped tussocks; birds, dogs, horses had all passed this way.

Then a pale bird swoops across the white-striped furrows and skims over the hedge to our left – a seagull perhaps? No! an owl!

"A Barn Owl!" we whisper – it glides towards us and hovers low over the grasses; I fumble with the camera case and the rasp of velcro sends the owl in slow flaps away over the hedge again.

We stay and watch, inching along the hedgerow to a track which curves through the fields to a farm; we stand and see the owl in the far distance as it hunts over the ditch banks beside the track – and then there are two . . . a pair of Barn Owls hunting together in the snow . . . magical moments.

These are enlarged details from the photos I took. I like the pastel-drawing quality and the winter palette.
Hunters in the snow frozen in time.


  1. What a lovely post. I was right with you, walking there. Such a treat to see two barn owls, lucky people.

  2. Oh I love barn owls :)

    I've just spotted your comment over at Shirl's re the dinner party. I'll be keeping it going for a few days if you'd still like to join in - just click on the picture at the top of the right hand sidebar and you'll be there!

    I do hope you can join us - there's a lot of delightful guests and lively conversation going on!

    BTW I see you're also a regular commenter over at my friend Threadspider - we met through blogging but live just 10 minutes away from each other!

  3. Oh my god, how amazing. They are such beautiful birds. You must have felt like you were in heaven. I could feel the moment from your words and pics...xxx

  4. Wow - so lucky!! It would have been fantastic to have been there. I've not really left to house to do walks as the snow got even deeper on Friday, its now iced over and I'm sure is not a good mix with slightly wobbly toddler. But the bonus has been that the wren that lives in the ivy on the fence has been hopping close to the house so I can watch her. I love how she flits about.

  5. What a thrill to see a barn owl! I've seen a few in the last year, and I wonder if they're making a bit of a come-back? Seeing one when I was a child was almost impossible.

  6. I've only seen barn owls twice - once when I was cycling home to our village at twilight, and once in the field next to a cottage we were renting. You're very lucky!

  7. What a lovely highlight to a snowy walk!
    Barn Owls are definitely making a comeback here in East Yorkshire. We see them in the day when the weather has been poor - I think they can't hunt enough at night to keep them going. We came home from a Natural History meeting last summer in the early evening and saw 5 in the space of 4 miles - THAT was an evening to remember!

  8. Lovely - and how lucky you had your camera with you. I hear them here, but as soon as I go out, they vanish into the wood. But I often see the tawny owls, which are much less shy. The saddest sight for me so far this winter was a dead barn owl, run over and left in the road. I suppose the only good thing was that later I saw a red kite swoop down on it


  9. what awesome photos. the detail on the wing is amazing. the creams & browns are delicious! now to find a knitting pattern to mimic the pattern.........

  10. How wonderful to see two owls like that - terrific photos!

  11. Thank you Toffeeapple :-)

    Hi VP - welcome to PPPs. I've enjoyed reading the dinner party guest lists - what a lovely idea.

    Amber - we were so excited but couldn't show it as we would have scared them away!

    Rhiannon - I love seeing the Wrens too - I hope they have somewhere warm to hide at night.

    Soilman - I hope you're right. I saw a few last year, so hope they become a regular sight.

    Dottycookie - I think twilight is a likely time to spot them, so maybe you'll be lucky again.

    Sarah & Jon - we felt very very lucky.

    Veg Heaven - Five! that was amazing! I think you're right - they need to hunt whenever there's a chance of catching something.

    Joanna - It's good to know they're there. I've heard that a Red Kite was sighted in the next village recently and Buzzards are now quite common too.

    Petoskystone - the wings are exquisite! And the colours so soft and subtle.

    Hi Gina - I wasn't sure that I had got a good picture - I just held the camera and kept clicking. When I enlarged them I thought the images captured the atmosphere perfectly :-)


  12. A magical walk-well worth leaving the floor dirty-and inspiration to last for ages.

  13. My thoughts exactly, Threadspider!


  14. Wow! Owls! It would have been no good me seeing them..i'd have been jumping up and down with glee making them fly home in fright!

  15. What stunning pictures Celia - how exciting! You can even see detail on the wings! It must have been a fabulous sight. I spotted one near the Devil's Dyke recently but didn't have my camera with me - drat. Emma x

  16. How magical! I so love Barn Owls. I've never been fortunate enough to see one in the wild.

  17. I love owls, I have seen quite a few recently up here in Cumbria. The most recent sighting was a barn owl hunting in the daylight, it was so close to the car and flying only about 6 feet above the ground. I was out sight-seeing with a friend who was visiting and inevitably this beautiful owl lead us to reminisce about the huge hare we saw a few years ago in France.


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