Fields and feathers - Owl watching on the farm

Enigmatic, beautiful and elusive, there is something truly magical about an encounter with an owl. Of the five species found in the UK, we have seen four here on the farm. We are often lucky enough to catch sight of the ghostly silhouette of a white barn owl gliding over the fields in dusky light and we have a pair of little owls that live in the hedgerows around the house.

Photo of a white barn owl on the Wrendale farm

Photography by Jack Dale

They are altogether different in character from the barn owls, almost comical in the way they bob their little heads up and down, their large amber eyes observing us knowingly from the safety of the hawthorn hedge. Over winter, we were incredibly excited that the farm was home to a short-eared owl that likely migrated here from continental Europe to take advantage of our milder winters. Its startling yellow eyes, encircled by black rings like kohl eyeliner were mesmerising and we spent many evenings watching it hunt over the farm.

Photo of a short eared owl on the Wrendale farm

Photography by ecologist and photographer, Graham Catley

Of all the sounds of the British countryside at night, there can't be any more iconic than the fluting hoot of tawny owls as they call to one another in a ghostly volley. We hear these beautiful birds far more often than we ever catch a glimpse of them but it's somehow comforting to hear their distinctive calls by the light of the moon and know that they have made their home here. We have put up many owl nesting boxes around the farm and they have been used by a wide selection of birds including kestrels, jackdaws and wood pigeons in addition to the owls that they were designed for.

Owl nesting boxes around the Wrendale farm

Photography by Jack Dale

This year, one of the boxes has hosted a pair of tawny owls that have recently fledged three fluffy brown owlets. Tawny owls make lifelong pairs and both male and females care for their young. This meant that we saw more of the parents around the farm as they tirelessly hunted for voles to feed their growing chicks. One afternoon, I spotted one of the pair resting in a field maple that is nestled into the hedgerow that runs down the farm. Armed with pencil and paper it was the perfect opportunity to make some sketches as the bird bathed in the dappled light that seeped between the leaves of the maple tree.  

Tawny owl sketch page by Hannah DaleLater that day, around half a mile away on the other side of the farm, we spotted two recently fledged tawny owls perched in a large hawthorn tree at the edge of a woodland copse. Tawny owls are highly territorial so the presence of two pairs that have successfully fledged a brood in such close proximity is a sign that voles are plentiful amongst the rich scrubby habitat that has developed on the farm and so grateful that we have had the opportunity to make space for nature here on our farm.

Photo of a tawny owl on the Wrendale farm

Photography by Jack Dale

I always love seeing all the wildlife on the farm and often take inspiration for future designs. Take a look at a video of a design we will be launching next season. 

add a little wrendale to your home

Owl canvas by Wrendale Designs

Did you know that we offer a variety of prints and canvas prints available? They are perfect for adding a touch of Wrendale to your living space. Click here to take a look. 


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