White Wings

Change is part of life. Every new day is an opportunity to begin again. The seasons turn, the tides change, the sun rises and sets. We humans assume we can always remain the same, but we are part of nature, and therefore change is inevitable for us too. Something I have discovered only too painfully. The changes in my life some 16 months ago turned my world upside down and continue to affect me now. I have barely been able to pick up my camera, let alone write. But. Here I am. New, beginning again. Because that’s what nature does, begins – over and over again.

Enough about me. You’re here for the wildlife, and so here it is!

In my first ever solo holiday last year, I visited the amazing county of Yorkshire, a place I’ve never been before, but now a place I love and hope to return to again. The beautiful rolling hills and magnificent views. The sweeping curves of the roads at which I smile involuntarily as I change my grip on the steering wheel to ease my little car around another arc of tarmac. Over the next hill the glitter of the sea is visible on the horizon, and rugged heath and heather rolls out either side of the road. I explored to my hearts content, finding fossils of ammonites on the seashore, and weird and impressive rock formations rising out of the moor.

I travelled to the famous RSPB Bempton Cliffs, home to around half a million seabirds between March and October when they come here to these spectactular chalk cliffs to breed. At the end of the season, when I visited, mostly just the Gannets remained, but the sight of these beautifully pre-historic looking birds cruising the cliff edges was incredible. Soaring past on steady wings at eye level, I couldn’t help but be captivated by these stunning birds. I spent all day with them, watching them surf the updraft at the cliff edge, and listening to their deep raucous laughing calls. Giving myself vertigo imagining being with them as they tipped themselves off the cliff edge into a steep dive, trusting their huge 2 metre wingspan, then pulling up in a glorious arc of air, banking into the sea breeze and circling back to the cliff.

Back home, the other bird I’ve had the pleasure to photograph more recently, is a beautiful local Barn Owl. I’ve always wanted to photograph a wild Barn Owl, so to find one hunting in a regular spot on the way home from work was an absolute delight. This lovely bird was completely unconcerned by my car, allowing me to get some photos that I’ve only ever dreamed about!

When I watch a Barn Owl hunting in the last light of the day, I tend to hold my breath. Is it the mesmerising silent flight? Or maybe the slight disbelief that that beautiful creature just flew so close to me? The rest of the world seems to hold it’s breath too. There’s something about that buoyant and soundless animal that seems to absorb attention, and become for a moment, the centre of the universe. Until, that is, the owl sees the centre of it’s own universe, a vole, and after a brief second of hovering, he hits his target with such power that it seems disproportionate to his gentle flight. After looking around carefully for the marauding Kestrel, he heads home for his dinner, as I do too.


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