As soon as we got out of the Land Rover we spotted a family of fledgling Willow Warblers in the bush next to us, still with their nestling gape showing.
Moving along the hedgerow at the edge of the field we saw no sign of our intended quarry. Reed Buntings and a Robin gathered insects but they weren't what we were after. A quick call to the Ranger revealed it was sat on a waymarker post just beyond the trees on the other side of the field.; would we see it today.
He joined us and we stood in a little nook in the hedge out of sight of the main part of the field but affording us a good view - nothing. 20 minutes later we gave up and had a wander around the track to the west where some higher ground might be to our advantage. Still no sign but we could hear a Grasshopper Warbler reeling away and a Cetti's Warbler sang briefly from an area we'd never heard them in before, not too far from their normal patch but far enough to make us note it as odd.
A quarter of an hour later and still no sign. A Curlew wailed mournfully overhead - more 'autumn' passage.
We parted company and the safari headed back to the field on the off chance...good move! It was there quartering the damp rough to the south - Barn Owl (167) -at last!
It disappeared behind a scraggy bit of hedge so using the cover we snuck down to get a better view. Where had it gone? It lifted out of the thick long grass with a vole too close for us to get the camera fired up in time, it screeched at us mockingly as we panned round behind it. Was that to be it for the day as it was getting late in the morning by now.
Fortunately not. It reappeared and successfully hunted two more voles.
Getting a decent pic proved to be a nightmare. Despite their floppy slow looking flight they cover the ground pretty quickly. Add to that that it was over the middle of the field and the camera kept trying to focus on the trees at the back. Not only that even though the morning was cloudy compared to the other morning the whiteness of the owl still bleached out on the pics. Doh...a bad workman always blames his tools!
Anyway it was nice to get the scoreboard moving again before we go in to hossy.
Here are the very best of a very bad bunch of Barn Owl pics.
Where to next? Might get a brief soiree into Patch 1 before the torture that will be England v Slovenia.
In the meantime let us know if the scoreboard in your outback is still ticking over.