Friday 25 May 2012

Tawny owls revenge

Five evenings ago a young tawny owl was pushed and shoved out of the enormous Scots pine beside the house. A pair of crows, that nest at the top of the tree, dived onto the ball of fluff and feathers until Molly (our dog) and I chased them off. The bedraggled owl scrambled through the wire fence and crash landed into reeds below where once again the crows attacked. By the time we got there it was lying on the ground, exhausted, barely able to keep its eyes open. But when I approached, it gathered enough strength to fly fifty metres or so into the refuge of a nearby willow. We watched for a while and it seemed the crows had either not seen or lost interest.

Later that night there were two baby tawny owls crying out for food by the railway track at Campbell’s Platform. The next night they were a couple of hundred metres up the line. On the third night there were definitely three of them and I was able to stand in the middle of a triangle of trees as they pleaded to be fed. On the fourth night they were a bit further into the nature reserve and, maybe because it was a bit overcast and misty, the owlets started calling out much earlier, at about 7:30.

Last night we sat on our warm, midge-free balcony; it was bright and balmy and not until nine o’clock that we started to hear them, faint and far away to begin with. But by the time we’d gone to bed, the owls had moved into the same Scots pine, in the middle branches next to our open window, and were in full voice non-stop till dawn. This morning the crow family was looking just a bit tired!

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