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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Don’t blink! Britain’s smallest owls make their home on West Country farm

By Daily Mail Reporter

Wary: The owls only emerge from their hiding place in the farm's silage one at a time to search for food

Visitors to this West Country farm were unable to shake the feeling that they were being watched.

Then a wildlife enthusiast noticed Britain's smallest owls have set up home the silage bales.

The tiny birds, part of a species called Little Owls, have made their home in black plastic covered bales left on a farm outside Winford, near Bristol, Somerset.

They sit on the bales and watch the animals and people go about their farmyard business.

Nature photographer, Ian Wade, 35, from Bristol was delighted by his first encounter with the creatures when he visited family friends who own the farm.

'It was quite weird. As soon as I got close to the silage I got this feeling of being watched,' recalled Ian.

'They've got these amazing big yellow eyes, which just stare at you.

'I've never even seen one blink.

'They are really tiny, smaller than a bag of sugar.

'When I saw one in the silage bobbing her head up and down, it was like she was trying to size me up in this amusing way.

'They've got funny little faces which clearly show them trying to work out who I am and what I'm doing.'

The owls leave their little silage holes separately so they can efficiently hunt the insects they catch.

'It's quite nice and warm in the silage. The sun shines down on the black and warms it up,' explained Ian.

'It's quite a good place to hide and watch what's going on at the same time.'

Ian had to get as close to an owl as possible to take his pictures. But as soon as he got close it would move to a nearby wall.

Ian would then approach with his camera and again get as close as he could before the uncooperative creature would return to her silage watching hole.

'This continued back and forth all day long,' said Ian. 'It must have looked very funny to anyone watching me.'

Watcher: One of the owls waits on a wall beside the bales that have become their home



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