I bought Astrantia Midnight Owl at the RHS Cardiff Show earlier this spring. I am really pleased because it loves the shady and damp clay soil that sits in front of the north facing fence. Many plants struggle to survive, and it is really mainly Christmas roses, and yellow poppies ( the emblem of Plaid Cymru the Welsh political party). However, Midnight Owl has settled in really quickly and has been flowering since May. It is perfect for adding flower heads in the middle of the narrow border. Astrantia also reminds me of my 94 year old darling uncle whose surname is Buckland. I bought him an Astrantia Major Buckland many years ago, and he is so pleased with it, it is less pink, loves his Chiltern chalky soil, and seeds readily. This is one of those plants that is less showy, and is easy to overlook at the garden centre, but once in the garden it flowers away adding a starry background.
I have only seen a few wild owls, even though I started seeking them out as a teenager. The best one was early one New Years Day as we returned home in Shropshire. It was sat in a tree illuminated by the car headlights. It was a very magical moment.
I am trying to learn their different calls, and they have just started to call again. I heard something the other night just as I had got into bed. I scurried back downstairs to get my binoculars, and the bird call app on my phone. I am fairly sure that it was a Little owl. It’s not unlike a yapping dog. I saw one of these with the aid of my two bird watching friends in a quarry on Portland Bill. Even with a scope you can so easily miss them as they are so small and extremely well camouflaged.
Whereas I was just giving the hanging basket a final water last night and I heard the Twany Owl squawking in the area where our neighbours have installed an owl box. We maybe lucky and be able to spot if the spiders webs that surround the entrance have disappeared, or find some pellets. These are regurgitated remains of the prey (bones and fur) and although these might look like some type of dropping, they are not. From these you can identify what the owl has been eating.
So owl leave you to listen out on these warm summer evenings to enjoy the antics of our more common nocturnal birds.