The owl files – Chapter 4: A busy night . . . and this morning? . . . the three Mouseketeers were back in the box!

15 October 2023

A busy night .   .   . and this morning? .   .   . the three Mouseketeers were back in the box!

Last night, the third chick finally left the box and flew down to join the other two on the ground – so all have now successfully left the nest.

This morning, just before 05h00, I heard the “Chip . . chip . .  chip . . . ” calls of a Black Sparrowhawk coming from the Tea Garden, followed by the calls of the male Spotted Eagle-Owl – also from the Tea Garden. I rushed out onto the lower roof, with the female watching me closely from the step at the entrance to the nest box. Last time I tried to protect the owls from the sparrowhawk, I slipped and fell badly on the ridged metal roofing – but no frost this morning and so I reached the edge of the roof without incident. An adult male Black Sparrowhawk flushed from the Tea Garden and flew down to the sanctuary, but I couldn’t see any prey in his talons. Phew .   .   .  no sign of the chicks though!

I then went up onto the tower roof to check the nest box. The female had moved inside and seemed to be preening at least two chicks in the box with her. I went to fetch the camera, but when I climbed the ladder again, the female had already flown down to the Tea Garden, two of the chicks were out on the step at the entrance and the third was in the box. A barrage of bill clicks – sounding like a popcorn popping, greeted me  .   .   with the female joining in from the Tea Garden. I leaned over the wall to take a photo, and fortunately looked up just before the female hit me. I fended her off, but she landed on the wall four meters away and sat watching intently as I came down the ladder.

Great to see her so protective of her brood, and also that the chicks are flying well enough to be able to return to the box, should they need too.

By Geoff Lockwood