Living the Wild Life

Series 6: Barn Owls

Colin meets up with owl expert John Lusby to assess the current state of Barn Owls in Ireland. John works and surveys owl populations in the Duhallow region of North Cork - a real Barn Owl stronghold in Ireland.

John, who spends his summers traveling around the country measuring and monitoring the health of the Barn Owl chick population, knows the location of nearly every Barn Owl nest in the country but when Barbara Lucey calls with a new nest in a very special location, John just has to check it out.

Barbara woke one night to what she thought was the sound of her husband snoring before realising the noise was coming from outside the house. In Barbara's garden is a tree that was hit by lightening six years ago, and here she found two barn owl chicks. These days, the tree is home to a charming owl family, with two new chicks tucked up in the nest waiting for their parents to bring them food. After an initial inspection and a chat with the neighbours, John returns the chicks to their nest and observes them as they make their famous night calling.

A few weeks later, Colin returns to the tree to set up his scaffolding and hide before settling down for a night. Armed with a night-vision camera and special lights that block out white light, it's not long before the chicks make their appearance, and their distinctive vocalisation which, in the past, was often mistaken for the call of the banshee. Colin's eagerness to get the best shot of a feed gets the better of him. An accidental noise from the hide alerts the mother owl, who gives a startling rendition of her alarm call, bringing an otherwise successful evenings filming to a close.


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