Hazel was away on business, so on the Friday evening I rung me father in law, to see what was happening on his farm. The usual. He then asked me if I'd ever seen Eagle Owl. I said I'd seen them in Finland and France. He said his close mate Geoff thought he had one on his farmland in the next valley and had ruled out Short Eared Owl, due to the size, and also the fact it had attacked him!!
I said we'll be through tomorrow to see whats happening up there.
The next day, Hazel and me travelled up to Whitendale, to try and connect with the 'Eagle' Owl.
Geoff showed us the lacerations on his neck, and it was obvious that it had gripped him hard. He said he would drive to the area on his quad bike, and that we could follow in the Land Rover.
He pointed over the valley, and there it was, an Eagle Owl sat on a boulder.
Geoff explained that he thought the female was on our side of the valley with two young.
My camera was set up, but the bird was nearly 100 yards away.
We watched from afar for a while, when Geoff's young son arrived on another quad bike.
He asked if id photographed the owl, and I told him it was too far away.
His response surprised me, saying, 'Ill be back in a few minutes'.
Five minutes later, he arrived with his sheep dog sat behind him.
He let his dog off the bike, and straight away, the Eagle owl flew across the valley like a Lancaster Bomber, and landed on a fence post right in front of my camera. It couldn't have happened any better. The owl sat there for a while before dropping into the long grass.
The Eagle Owl is a fantastic bird, but unfortunately its smack bang in the middle of where Hen Harriers breed, and it remains to be seen, how much damage this bird could do to the local Harrier population.