Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Tawny Owl

The tawny owl is Britain's largest breeding owl, discounting the European eagle owl, one of the most common resident owls and arguably the most famous due to folklore, myth and stories.

We have always had tawny owls on display, and after starting our flying team two years ago they quickly became a huge success and very popular with visitors. Following on from this we launched our "Owl Photo Days" which almost sell out before we announce them... despite having long-eared owls, short-eared owls and little owls on offer it still seems to be the tawny owls that steal the show.

Therefore many of you will be pleased to hear we have some new tawny owls hopefully arriving at the Centre later this year. We hope to add to our flying team with another pair, which we can also use for photo days to give Aluco the occasional break. And wouldn't it be nice to breed these owls here? Well hopefully we can establish a breeding pair too.

So why am I saying this now? Well... I have had to delay the news on our exciting new research project, due to bad weather, hopefully I can tell you about that next week. And while walking through our woodlands this week our lovely Liza in the office spotted a wild tawny owl chick.

Our ancient bluebell woodland, currently in all its glory, has been home to wild tawnies for as long as I have been here... but I have never before seen the chicks they have reared. On three consecutive days now, Liza has stumbled across one of the chicks while it was "branching out", this is the stage where they start to try and find their wings. Often falling to the ground and having to climb back up the tree again.

Today Liza took me with her to see if we could chance our luck again, and sure enough the chick was their again about 12 foot up a tree covered in climbers.

I love British wildlife, and am very lucky to see and work with many British animals everyday... but as I have said to many people many times, nothing beats seeing it for "real" in the wild! I get a real buzz from it, even still today and even having seen wild owl chicks several times before.

Our wild sighting is great news for our reserve... breeding top predators means a good ecosystem, good prey base and thriving habitat. Our conservation work is obviously paying off and hopefully this will continue with the extra 10 acre expansion we are currently doing.

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