Introduction

Wild Time

Spring

Feel the beat of spring

Be dazzled by bluebells

Harken to a bittern's boom

Seek a swooping sand martin

Pen poetry among daffodils

Sway with dancing grebes

Get sent packing by a grouse

Take a ringside seat

Track down a tiger

Watch a rare sky dance

Chatter with a natterjack

Enjoy the great rush north

Look up in awe

Shine a light on newts

Eavesdrop on a nightingale

Go spotting early orchids

Follow a sat-tagged osprey

Gape at hunting hobbies

Nurse a passion for purple

Scour riverbanks for Ratty

Tip-toe among fritillaries

Summer

Hail the success of avocets

Go batty as night falls

Bewitched by a buttercup

Play the summertime blues

Thrill to damsels and dragonflies

Go after Dartford warbler

Make a splash with gannets

Stake out a badger sett

Hurrah for the king

Rejoice in Manxie's chorus

Delight in a glow worm

Fall for THE fastest bird

Be spellbound by orchids

Journey to a seabird city

Exalt at a skylark's song

Party with the puffins

Lounge with a lizard

Haunt a churring nightjar

Head seawards on safari

Discover the rare spoonbill

Join the toadlet exodus

Spot our largest butterfly

Wear a hat for terns

Hunt woodland beauties

Autumn

Admire our eager beavers

Marvel at migration

Forage for Autumn's bounty

Go nuts over squirrel nutkin

Ramble through purple

Gaze in awe at reds' rut

Wander in the wild wood

Cheer on the salmon run

Try a wild goose chase

Foray for fungi

Winter

Pay homage to the Russians

Go on a winter ghost hunt

Wonder at wintering waders

Fall in love with a seal pup

Hear Britain's tallest bird

Revel in roosting wagtails

Kiss beneath mistletoe

'Ooh' & 'aah' at murmurations

Lie in wait for an otter

Rock 'n' roll with geology

Wrap up for a raptor roost

Go on a winter ghost hunt

Barn owl © Jon Hawkins

Watch as a barn owl hunts on silent wings

Like many owls, barn owls find it harder to hunt in windy conditions, so still evenings are best to try to spot them 

The barn owl is one of those birds that everyone can recognise, one of the most familiar birds of our countryside and yet many people have never seen one.

If you’ve never seen a barn owl before, then winter can be a great time of year to look, as they often extend their hunting hours into daylight to find the extra food they need to get them through the colder months.

Barn owls famously hunt on silent wings, a soft fringe along the outside of their flight feathers reducing the noise of their flight. This helps them to creep on their prey unannounced, and also means they are better able to listen out for the rustling of the small mammals amongst the grass, without any background noise of flapping.

They feed almost exclusively on small mammals, with 50% of their food being made up of field voles.  So to stand the best chances of seeing this ghostly silent hunter, look for areas of rough grassland, the favourite habitat of voles.

How to do it

If you can’t get to the special places listed below…Barn owls are found throughout the lowlands of the UK.  Two other daytime hunting owls to look out for are the short-eared owl, which especially likes moorland and coastal flood meadows, and the diminutive little owl, who especially likes to hunt from veteran trees along old hedgerows.

Special spots

Thanks to the work of the local drainage authorities, farmers and landowners who manage grassland edges, drains and field boundaries to benefit the field vole (the barn owl’s main prey) and put up nesting boxes, Lincolnshire has one of the highest densities of barn owls of any county in the country.  Barn owls can be seen throughout the county on a number of Wildlife Trust nature reserves such as Willow Tree Fen and Gibraltar Point , as well as throughout the wider landscape as they hunt alongside ditches, tracks and roads, particularly at first dusk.  At Vine House Farm in south Lincolnshire 13 pairs of barn owls bred in 2014, producing 63 young. Vine House Farm holds open days and farm walks where the lucky visitor may just catch a glimpse of these ghostly residents.

Avon,  Folly Farm

Cambridgeshire,  The Great Fen

Cambridgeshire,  Grafham Water

Cambridgeshire,  The Ouse Washes

Dorset,  L orton Meadows

Essex,  Blue House Farm

Lancashire,  Lunt Meadows

London, Frays Farm Meadows

Norfolk,  Hickling Broad

Somerset,  Westhay Moor

Suffolk,  Hen Reedbeds

Suffolk,  Snape Marshes

Wiltshire,  Blakehill Farm

Barn owl © Richard Bowler

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