Jo Mortimer

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Flight of the Barn Owl

Twenty-three and a half hours ago, a barn owl flew low across our garden.

I was about to draw the curtains on the day when it appeared from behind the house; I called out, ‘What’s that?’ and decided it must be a seagull.

Owl Steve.jpg

But then it turned and followed the line of bare trees against a dark silver and pink sky.

Wow - that head shape, the shading from white through to the subtly powerful pale gold. Unmistakable.

I guess the whole majestic experience lasted no more than six or seven seconds, but it will stay with me forever. My brother once accidentally photographed a barn owl at Wood’s Mill nature reserve, noticing it only after the picture was developed. Pretty extraordinary.

At 5pm yesterday, my heart soared. For a few seconds, I was on that owl’s back feeling the slow, steady rise and fall of its wings. I watched the beauty disappear into a small wood; for all I know it’s nesting there. I’ve since been told that winter is the best time to see them because they widen their nets for food. I’ve never seen a barn owl in the wild before and may never again, but I’ll listen out for distant calls and be grateful for that one breath-taking moment.

Photo by Steve Mortimer

Jo Mortimer