I am doing eleven hour shifts, right up to Christmas Eve - my choice and "big bucks" come the New Year! I left home, just on 05.30 hrs this morning, walking the main footpath across to Ellington Girls School, rather than the field margins ( they're more direct, but very muddy at present).
I'd just reach Burbridge's Wood Yard when I became aware of a bird flying down Pyson's Road, illuminated by the street lights. Bloody hell; it was a Barn Owl! It didn't fancy the Newington Estate and the massed lighting of Thanet suburbia, instead, choosing to fly across the darkened wood yard, towards St. Luke's beyond and so, in my direction. I squeaked it (sucking air in through my closed lips) causing a momentary alteration in flight path, before it continued on its' way. It is a patch tick of sorts? I have a record of a Barn Owl, perched on my garden fence - illuminated by the glow from my 250w mv moth trap! It was in the summer, a good few years back, and I never felt happy with the sighting - my thinking being an escaped falconer's bird or a recently released re-introduction individual. I included it, but my tick wasn't with any great conviction. The sighting, this morning, has elevated the status of Barn Owl to fully paid up member of the Newland's Farm "patch listings" The bird wasn't hunting, having probably just reached Thanet after a sea crossing from some far-flung European shore. No camera, no bins, it made not the slightest difference to my pleasure of the encounter - my eleven hour stint within the factory was so much easier because of this totally unexpected sighting - I'm still smiling now! Patch watching - can you beat it?