Birdwatch: a pair of barn owls make our midsummer’s evening

We were searching for quail in the Polden Hills but this sight was an unexpected treat

We came in search of quail – surely one of Britain’s most elusive birds – and, although we failed to see, or even hear our quarry, we did enjoy a midsummer’s evening to remember.

My companions and I had ventured south of the Polden Hills, that long, low ridge that passes for the highlands above the flatlands of the Somerset Levels. On the broad, open moor, we were serenaded by the chaotic trilling of countless sedge warblers, the ponderous notes of reed buntings, and the urgent chacking call of a male stonechat, carefully shepherding his brood of half a dozen newly fledged youngsters, like a proud dad collecting the kids from school.

Related: The UK’s barn owls are growing in number – and for once it’s thanks to humans

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