Monday, June 22, 2009

A Midsummer Night's Owl

I said the other day that I always tell the truth on this blog, and this is a true story, and it happened last night. Truth can be a bit strange sometimes.

Last night I watched a television programme with the excellent wildlife presenter and cameraman Simon King demonstrating how to get closer to some wild animals and birds.

He spoke to a cuckoo by doing a "cuckoo" noise and explained that it was important to leave the same amount of time in between doing it as the call takes, so that the cuckoo could reply. And, although his cuckoo imitation was by no means perfect, the cuckoo did indeed reply.

Then he played a recording of a tawny owl in the woodland, and explained that if you did this, any tawny owls about would take it as a challenge to their territory. They would repeat the call and come to have a look at you. Sure enough, a tawny owl turned up and he managed to film it.

Much later on in the evening, I went across to my Mum's house, which is next door to this one - - but her house was built in our house's garden so now there's one big garden.

To my amazement, in the distance I could hear a tawny owl hooting, making exactly the same sound as in the programme. I have heard it before - we live quite near to the woods - but only a few times every year.

Well, I didn't of course happen to have a handy recording of another owl with me - - but then I remembered how Simon King's cuckoo imitation had worked. Presumably the cuckoo in question just thought it was a cuckoo that spent its summers in a different part of the country.

So, feeling a bit of a fool, I stood in the middle of the lawn and did my best Tawny Owl impression. Kind of a rather wobbly "Hoooooooooo".

The owl immediately hooted again so, filled with new-found confidence in my Bird Impression skills, so did I. Again it replied, and was definitely moving nearer.

After a few goes I sounded more like a Tawny Owl than the real thing. Certainly, the real thing thought so, as it kept moving nearer and nearer, until finally the calls were coming from the old pear tree above me.

I was looking for the dark shape in the branches and I think I might have seen it, though by now it was late and very dark.

"Hoooooooo!" said the Tawny Owl.

"Hoooooooo!" said Daphne.

I didn't want to frighten the owl as I was aware that what I was saying was actually "It's my land! Clear off!" So after a few moments with the owl in the tree above me, I stopped calling. The owl did a few triumphant "Hoooooooo"s and then flew off - I could hear it calling from time to time as it headed for the woods.

With a slightly spooky feeling of midsummer magic, I headed for the light of my Mum's back door.


Blogger Jennyta said...

He might have thought you were encroaching on his territory, Daphne and swooped in for the kill!!

9:38 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Tomorrow a van will be arriving with two men in white coats. Don't be afraid Daphne. They will be taking you somewhere where you will feel safe. In the ward, you will be able to make owl noises to your heart's content.

11:47 pm  
Blogger Debby said...

Don't listen to YP. I thought that was freakin awesome.

4:08 am  
Blogger Daphne said...

Jenny - That's entirely possible and then he may have thought I was just that tiny bit too large.
Debby - thank you.
YP - Hoooooo? Hooooooo. Hoooooo. Hooooooo!

8:01 am  
Blogger WendyCarole said...

How exciting that must have been.

(I had seen the SK proggramme too)

9:39 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

I think in owl-talk you were setting up a personal rendezvous for tomorrow evening at eight, with hints of being receptive on successive evenings to an ever-increasing flock of randy tawny owls looking to mate.

I have been known to do the same thing (whistle, not mate) with bob-white quail, but the female response is different from the male's call.

2:56 pm  
Blogger tony said...

I can hear both Bats & Peacocks from my front door.However both these types of creatures I find a wee bit scary so i dont think I will push my luck!

5:23 pm  

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