Owl spotting by bike

2010-06-28, Comments

Matt Burns spotted a barn owl on a bike ride earlier today — the first wild owl he’s ever seen.

Barn owls hunt by stealth rather than speed. They fly silently. A well oiled bicycle moves quietly too, making it a fine mobile vantage point for wildlife spotting. Some years ago, I spent a short while working at a serviced office in Hartham Park and my daily commute included a bike ride from Chippenham railway station. Sometimes I took the Bath Road (passing the place on Rowden Hill where Eddie Cochran died in a traffic accident) but usually I took the more rural Chippenham Lane. We were only in that office a year, I think — it wasn’t a great location — but in that short time I saw a family of tawny owls learning to fly. There must have been five or six of them, arranged on branches at various levels of that tree. I saw them several days in a row, and then they were gone, flown the nest. Thanks to google street view I’ve made that journey again and I’d say this is the tree. There was less ivy on it back then.

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Mad March hares raced and tussled in the surrounding fields.