Speaking to barn owls

Months after writing this article, I've finally taken a photo' of my own to accompany it.

Who would have thought it possible to call in a wild barn owl? I have called tawny owls at night with a rabbit squeaker before, but leaving the Chayne late yesterday evening, I heard the familiar hiss of a barn owl. We have two pairs living on the farm and it is always great to see them, particularly when they are hunting low over the tussocky grass around the abandoned barn. The call was a hundred yards away, but I returned it, more out of a desire to see if I could make a similar sound than to actually communicate with the bird. I tried twice, then turned on my way and walked a few yards further back to the car. Thirty yards behind me, the phlegmy screech sounded and I turned to peer into the gloom. It was too dark to see far, so I called again, bubbling the spit at the back of my mouth. Against the moon, just fifteen feet over my head, a ghostly pale silhouette drifted past and wheeled into the trees nearby. It was a magical moment, made all the stranger by the fact that all I had done to bring it about was to clear my throat.

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