Monday, 27 December 2010

Tawny Owls on Boxing Day

My brother and his wife played host to our parents and my family for the holidays this year. The kind of ideal Christmas that one might visualise, but which seldom lives up to expectations, had actually come to pass.
The brandy butter on the Christmas pudding came after a Boxing Day morning walk when I found a Tawny Owl roosting on a telegraph pole.
This is a bird that can hear a mouse’s heartbeat under 5 feet of snow from three-quarters of a mile away, so I wonder what made me think that I could creep up on it? Obviously, it knew that I was there and showed great tolerance as I approached and allowed me my best ever view of this species. Though I tried not to approach too closely in case I disturbed it, what I hadn’t registered was its mate in the holly tree between us. The second owl flushed from the cover of the holly and sparked the original bird, into responding flight. The reddish colour is the most common in British birds though they may be seen in a greyish-brown variation.
The flushed bird went deep into the wood, but the first owl settled again slightly further along the path. I am not in the habit of disturbing birds if I can help it, but the way back necessitated passing the owl again. This time it flew off the path and I was able to pass without bothering it any further.

And a happy Christmas to you whoo whoo.