The owl files – Chapter 2: Up and down . . .

18 October 2021

Up and down . . .

Since the last update, the situation has fluctuated quite a bit. Early on Friday morning, and again on Friday evening/ early Saturday morning Cynthia and I heard a (? the) female calling a distance away from the Centre. I’ve still not been able to track either her or the missing chick down however.

The male’s hunting success seems to be variable – on some evenings the chicks are ravenous, almost ‘mugging’ him while soliciting food, while on others the chicks continue to doze, preen or look around until it’s almost totally dark. Significantly, they rarely start their wheezy “weeaahhhh .  .  .  weeaahhhh .  . .” calls early on these evenings.

Friday was a bad day, the two chicks were already on the landing at the back of the Centre begging loudly at 16:45. They were clearly very hungry! I tried the ‘dragged rat’ approach for over an hour, but although both chicks watched the bait intently for a while, neither they, nor the male came down.

On Saturday morning, the Green Woodhoopoes were mobbing something down towards the sanctuary and I could eventually see what was upsetting them – one of the chicks. The burning question however was “was this the missing chick?”. Checking the Elm behind the Centre, I found the male plus a single chick – so probably not. That evening, I again dragged a dead rat back and forth below the chicks – again without the chicks coming down.

On Sunday, both chicks were back together in the Elm, and they seemed to have fed well overnight. They were a lot more relaxed and had not started begging by the time the male moved off.

This morning, the chicks were perched together in the Elm dozing. They later woke up and began preening – eventually allopreening each other for an extended period, and allowing me to take a series of photos. Enjoy.

By Geoff Lockwood