I disturbed a bird the other day. I was walking through the garden of the Old Forge and something broke cover.
It was only later, alerted by the scolding call of a chaffinch, that I saw it properly and realised that it was a …
… little owl (Athene noctua). I’ve only seen them before in Greece; perched high up and looking down at me from the crumbling walls of Molyvos castle. Introduced to the UK during the 19th century, little owls feed on small mammals, birds (hence the ire of the chaffinch), beetles and worms. The Old Forge owner has recently found a cache of dead mice and voles in one of the bedroom window frames. It might be the owl’s larder; it might be the kestrel’s.
I do hope I see it again and get a better photo of him/her (the sexes are pretty much indistinguishable). I think there is something rather lovely and exotic about having a little owl at the Old Forge.
Though I don’t suppose the chaffinches agree.