Andrew and I faced last Sunday with some trepidation, as we were due to attend a bygones and fun day at Ufford, near Woodbridge - the second opportunity we have had at this particular event to introduce the work of S.O.S. This is the time of year when everyone is holding their summer fairs, working on the assumption no doubt that the weather in July and August is likely to be hot and sunny. Yes, well the forecast for this particular day was not only rain, but gales and thunderstorms to boot. Still, the show must go on and we arrived at the Sanctuary at the crack of dawn to load up the vehicle kindly donated to us for the day by our sponsors Jeffries of Bacton. Occasional volunteer Tony was on hand to help us with the hefting about and be our chauffeur for the day (very decadent), so we were soon ready to set off, keeping a watchful eye on the darkening clouds above.
As is quite usual for Andrew & me, we managed to not quite correctly follow the directions and were just debating a slightly uncertain left or right turn, when a rather beautiful classic car appeared on the scene. ‘Follow that car’ we cried in true English fashion and sure enough we were soon at our destination!
With us, we took Nightshade our beautiful Barn Owl and Auckland the Boobook Owl, seasoned campaigner at the ripe old age of three and phased by absolutely nothing. Although Nightshade has been out to schools with us before, this was his first time at a big show, with all the sights, sounds, smells and other animals that naturally entails. We kept his travelling box close at hand in case he needed to have some quiet chill time, but he seemed to take his cue from Auckland and was quite relaxed perched on Andrew’s fist enjoying the admiration from visitors.
Although, certainly in East Anglia, Barn Owls are a relatively more common sight these days, it’s very rare to see them up close enough to really appreciate their fragile beauty. In flight, all you really see from a distance is a gliding white shape. Up close, people are always amazed by the delicate patterns of grey and gold that adorn the Barn Owl’s outer feathers.
Weather wise, the day turned out to be a mixed bag, with some lovely warm sunny spells, followed by a handful of torrential downpours. But the visitors were undeterred and, fortunately, our spacious gazebo encouraged people to come and take shelter when it rained. Auckland and Nightshade were stars throughout and we had a very successful day despite the erratic weather.