It was a couple of years before the stars aligned and I was able to join a licensed ringer and observe the ringing and recording of our local barn owl brood. It’s taken over a year before I could look over the pictures again; as these would be the last generation of a barn owl nest site that’s produced young for at least a decade.

I’ve been watching the barn owls in this territory for as long as I’ve been living here. A London suburb born and raised “towny”, I had to pinch myself when weeks after moving to the area I caught that haunting and unmistakable shape silently drift over the lane in front of me. In fact, as the days passed I began to doubt myself, maybe I imagined it? But the more I looked, the more I absorbed, the more I saw.

Ten years later and after thousands of images taken of the Sun Lane barn owls, I’m about to come eye to eye with the last generation this habitat will produce.

Less than six months on from this encounter and rumours of a bag blocking up this nest box would hit me like a stitch on a cross-country school run (probably the last time I got a real stitch). Fences up, foundations dug and show home close to completion within 12 months.

Progress is important, but so is remembering what went before and what’s been lost. A record of a magical, unique Summer’s morning…

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