Last weekend I was invited by a friend to see if we could see Barn Owls. I wasn’t going to say no! My friend had heard reports of fledgling Barn Owls at Dorset Wildlife Trust, Lorton Meadows near Weymouth. we left home around 5.30pm and got there before 6.30pm hoping to get our bearings before the Owls came out.
Neither of us had been to Lorton meadows before and it was not the easiest place to find down a long rough gravel track, surrounded by housing but when you got there you felt you were right in the countryside, except for the trains passing by and a slight hum of traffic. Lorton meadows are unimproved meadows, hedgerows and small woodlands filling the Lorton valley looking towards Weymouth Bay.
We were not sure the best thing to do after we had parked at the Conservation Visitor Centre we took a walk in the meadows trying to get our bearings and decide where we could wait. We were so engrossed in working this out that we nearly missed a Roe deer stood watching us from a short distance away. It wasn’t too bothered about us but eventually slipped into the woodland.
In the end we asked one of the few dog walkers that were using the meadows and she sent us to the visitor centre where there is a big hole in the eaves, under the thatch. We set our selves up in an open barn and settled down for a wait. We had both been looking earlier at the Webcam from this nest and I had seen four owls and we found out there were five in total. We never saw the adults but after a long wait the owls started to appear at the entrance.
They were very aware of any movement below and every time someone walked by they disappeared again, there were one or two walkers out and even a policeman! Eventually one decided to stretch his wings and ended up on the roof, he wasn’t too happy as his soon returned to the nest box.
Finally at around 9pm one decide it was time to move and flew off into a tree. The others stayed put. By this time the light was failing so we decided to call it a day. It was worth the wait although it would have been nice to see them over the meadows, perhaps next time?