On a grey, temperate Friday evening at the end of July, Holme Farm was the place to be. After the gentle yet persistent efforts of the biodiversity experts, Barn owls have started to see this place as their home. And it turns out that there is quite a large amount of interest among humans in watching these graceful creatures going about their business.

More than 40 people gathered on the dot of 8.30 – the cusp of evening – armed with binoculars, cameras, camping chairs and flasks. Some were old hands at this, others were new to the hobby of owl watching. The group moved quietly to the bridge which marks the edge of the Holme Farm site and settled in, waiting patiently. There were mutterings that since so many of us had gathered, maybe the owls would be too shy to make an appearance, but no one seemed to mind since it still gave us a chance to enjoy the peace and sights of this place as well as the togetherness of nature lovers. As one person remarked, so many of us have become so disconnected from our own ecosystem – the natural world – this kind of gathering feels unusual. It really shouldn’t.

We weren’t at all disappointed. We were treated to a warm up act when a mumuration of jackdaws (possibly 1000 live in the nearby woods) gave us an air display, swooping all over the sky. Soon after, one of the young Barn owls appeared very boldly in the doorway of its home, quickly joined by its two siblings. All three were hungry and they wanted their parents to return with some supper. Like all children, they were making their needs known. Before long, Mum appeared with sustenance. There was a lot of noisy squawking so evidently they were eating with delight! Mum is obviously very confident in her surroundings as she flew across the field after her food delivery, rather than vanishing at speed – was she performing to her gathered audience? There was a very soft hum of joy from the humans who were thrilled by the sighting yet mindful of respecting the sanctity of this owl family.

And off Mum flew again because it’s a lengthy business to keep feeding your little ones. Gradually, people started to peel away from the group, perhaps it was time to think about their own evening meal; certainly their souls had been fed with this moment of nature connection.

This is one of the many treasures that Holme Farm offers – a chance to witness nature in all its simple wonder while knowing that conservation experts have put in the effort to make sure that these birds of prey are properly protected. More opportunities will be promoted over the coming months and we would love you to join us again and perhaps make a donation if you feel able to continue to support our work.

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