The Somerset Wildlife Trust have a quite addictive web cam of a Barn Owl nestbox.
In the bewilderment and complexity of life, logging onto the webcam and watching the barn owls breathing, just breathing, is enough – plenty and plentiful.
‘Unhindered purposeful inaction‘ as my artist and yoga teacher friend Gretchen writes to me following an owl watch. The web cam has been a wonderful accompaniment through the winter for both of us. We log on from opposite sides of England and exchange enthusiasms for the delicate sounds of the ‘shuffling and slurring’ of feathers.
The excellent thing about webcams (as long as the wildlife can tolerate the sense of being watched 24/7 by an undetermined presence, and perhaps another topic for exploration in reference to ‘The Sense of Being Stared At’ by Rupert Sheldrake) is the non-drama unedited real time of wild lives.
Breathing, sleeping, preening, sex, hunting, eating, pelleting, calling, listening, scratching ……with very long periods of ‘inactivity’. The internal activities we do not know.
Closeness, stillness, attention, presence, observation……
The sound of the weather – rain on the roof, gusts of wind. And other birds – crows, blackbirds, pheasants …. along with the astonishingly beautiful sounds of the owls, of some of the preening where the wing feathers are splayed out to the side and the beak run along close to the body at the base of the feather giving a rhythmic ‘scale’, at 11.45am.
TV wildlife programmes continually focus on the drama of animal life – slowed down and sped up digitally enhanced action accompanied by a panoply of classical music.
“…Animals …. on TV … are put into human stories. You don’t just see a leopard as a leopard. It is put into a story of predators, of extinction, or ‘the wonders of mating’. Or … about how risky animal life is and how everything likes to hide in camouflage; or its about big bucks competing for females. All human stories….”
– James Hillman from his book with Margot McLean, ‘Dream Animals’.
Here on the webcam, events are occurring entirely within the span of and at the same rate as the lived experience. That is the importance of it. And to just breathing.
Good Luck Barn Owls.
And thank you Somerset Wildlife Trust for making it happen.