A tawny owl hunting experience

A tawny owl peers through the trees
A tawny owl peers through the trees

A tawny owl peers through the foliage as I pass through his territory, writes George Hogg.

I had in fact followed him to this tree, guided by a mob of very agitated woodland birds. It was at a time in late spring when many birds have vulnerable fledged youngsters newly out of the nest.

Tawnies are not slow to realise the opportunities this presents. However, the concerned parents have an instinctive behaviour of following owls, scolding loudly. Hearing these alarm calls, more and more birds join in, until the owl is surrounded by a furious feathery mob.

This racket is what had drawn my attention to the tawny as he sat in branches above my head. He had been forced to flee but his train of irate neighbours followed, still screaming loudly. Following myself, I found the owl in a second tree, still being mobbed and sworn at.

Again he moved, but this time all went silent when he went to roost on the branch shown here. The difference is, he had gone to roost close to a trunk and was no longer in hunting mode.

Prey species are expert at reading the intentions of their enemies.

Seeing him roosting, as shown in my picture, they instantly called off the chase and drifted off back to their duties, satisfied the danger was over.

Thinking back, I think most of the tawnies I have ever seen were pointed out to me by a swearing mob of woodlanders!