The tawny owl may have been protecting her young
A grandfather almost lost an eye when he was attacked by a swooping owl.
John Butter, 74, was walking in woods close to the tawny owl's nest when it swooped.
His ear and temple were slashed by the attack which left a cut just an inch and a half from his right eye.
Mr Butter believes he had walked too close to the female owl's nest and the bird had attacked him to protect her young.
I heard a clicking noise and looked around to see an owl coming straight towards my face
Mr Butter, who manages an 11-acre woodland at Chelfham, near Barnstaple, north Devon, for the League Against Cruel Sports, had been out watching the birdlife when he was attacked.
He said: "I was only a few yards from the edge of the wood when I heard a clicking noise and looked around to see an owl coming straight towards my face.
"I must have turned away a fraction of a second before it hit me because its talons caught the side of my face rather than my eye.
"I must have been too near its nest."
The tawny owl is a bird of prey with a wing span of about 2ft 6in.
Mr Butter said: "I remember seeing its angry face and its glaring eyes.
"I have only heard of one other case of someone being attacked and in that case the victim lost an eye. I am very lucky the same thing did not happen to me."
Mr Butter was seen by a doctor who cleaned up the wound but he did not need to go to hospital.