Barn Owls

January 17th 2016

“The pieces of unprofitable land are what I like, best seen in winter.” These words by Molly Holden rang true for me on January 17th as I took a late afternoon walk along side a drainage ditch which borders the Bowmont river flood plain. My family have always known this as ‘Melton mains’ for when we arrived here in 1982 we embellished our exploration of the area by giving names to the terrain. My two stepsons added Rook Wood, Chestnut Wood, Green Bridge and the Crags to our new topography. Each became a scene for adventures; camp fires, a den excavated beneath an old elm tree, elementary archeology. We dug for old bottles and found something better; an old military cap badge! You can see why these names have stuck with us. Other things stuck too. Along Melton mains we planted a horse chestnut, an off spring from a conker my brother Nick had planted as a cub scout back in the 1960’s, and also a rowan and a cherry. Now thirty years later the former stands at a statuesque forty feet in height. So you can see how this “piece of unprofitable land” has meant a lot. Today it brought another delight. Bright and white with a covering of frost hardened snow, the brambles, dry grasses and trees of Melton Mains all shone in the sunshine. Along its length, past the horse chestnut, a barn owl approached in measured wibble-wobble flight, twisting and turning as it searched the tangled vegetation for prey. Then it veered away and for a moment its outstretched wings were caught by the setting sun, backlit into a diaphanous glow.
For more on barn owl sightings this week see ‘Profiting from the Unprofitable Land’ on the BIRDS page. As for boyhood explorations and adventures see “United for Life” in “Becoming Valiant”. This Kindle Publishing e book is available from Amazon. Finally for Molly Holden’s poem in full see “The Seasons- the Nation’s Most Treasured Nature Poems”. (Faber 2015)

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