Day 1: The two owlets respond to me imitating owl, and persistently cheep for food. From what I can see, they must be a little over a week old, but please correct me if I am wrong.
Day 2: Much the same. In this video, you can see the second owlet a lot better.
Day 3: Nothing! Perhaps I heard a faint cheeping from the nest, but I didn’t see any owlets.
Have they already fledged? Are they alright? I hope so. I will bring further news over the next few days…
Day 4: Sighting! the owlets are still there – they must have just got up a lot later last night. They are really starting to mature now, you can notice they are looking more owl-like.
Day 5: Great view of the one owlet as it climbs a bit further out of the nest now – you can see more than just the head.
They will soon be ‘branching’ or (as Michaela from Springwatch would say – ‘semi-fledging’). More on this when I have some films of it to show you.
Day 6: Here again you can see both owlets as one uses the other as a step in order to climb to the edge of the nest. You also see the second owlet’s wings flapping in the background – this is again a sign that they will soon be branching. Branching is where the owlets leave the nest, hop around on the nearby branches, but are still fed by the parent, and still roost during the day in the nest. They start to wing flap (like most bird chicks) in order to build up the flight muscles. When it starts to feel a little bit of lift, it will be ready.
Day 7: One owl only, this time, although towards the end of the video you do catch a glimpse of the second. In this video, you can see the young tawny stretching, and bobbing its head at both me and some random object just to the left of me. This circular movement of the head allows the tawny owl to build up a 3D image of what it is looking at. You see, owl’s eyes are fixed in their sockets, and so they cannot do what we do (flit our eyes about quickly) in order to triangulate what they see. Instead they have to move their entire head.
But head bobbing doesn’t just allow them to triangulate visually – it allows them to triangulate a sound as well, to pinpoint accuracy. This is needed when hunting voles and mice in fields.
Day 8: Came quite late today, as the tawnys have been waking up later and later. They are now, I think, aware of me, and are less easy to encourage out. Here is a video of them from tonight, not as good as the others, but you can still see it developing.
Day 14: Yes, a whole week has passed since I last saw the tawny owls. This is partly due to my homework and exams, and partly due to the fact that whenever I have been to see them, they haven’t come out of their nest – they are now wise to my trick of imitating their parents. Or so I thought. Tonight I went out again, and hooted halfheartedly on the off chance that I might see them. I did not, but I heard their calls coming not from the nest, but from some trees nearby. They had started branching!
I raced back home, got my camera and tripod out, and raced back (it was quarter past 9 and the light was fading). I then spent half an hour playing a game of Marco Polo with them in a marsh covered in stinging nettles, in crocs, and came back with not even one glimpse. Tomorrow night I will definitely head out earlier and try to get some films of them leaving the nest.
Sorry, no film today!
Day 15: I did much the same today, getting there a bit earlier, but the owls were already out. Tomorrow I will go even earlier to try and capture them coming out of the nest. This time I was also better prepared, with wellies and thick trousers to protect against deep mud and stinging nettles.
Today I did find one, although it was really high up, silhouetted in the tree and mostly obscured by leaves and branches.
I watched that poor, cold and wet owlet – ‘Tawn’ as I’ve named it, somewhat uncreatively (the other is called ‘Dusk’ “Tawn and Dusk!”) – for near enough an hour, while it preened, looked about, and just sat still.
Here is a video of it below: