Tawny Owls

(Click the links below to hear the owl calls)

It’s owl watching time for me in Hoo Wood and on the marsh. The hooting, tooting and screeching is hard to ignore on dark, cold autumn evenings. In local wildlife terms, owls are at the top of the tree in my estimation: above herons and buzzards.

There are Tawny Owls, Barn Owls, Long Eared OwlsShort Eared Owls, and Little Owls living in the Wilden area. Whilst often heard, owls are not so easily seen. As silent flyers, they rarely rustle a leaf when landing on or taking-off from tree branches. One minute they are hooting from the tree on the left, and the next minute from a tree on the right. If you are observant, you might see the ghostly form of the owl as it flies from perch to perch.

Tawny Owls are the commonest and the most vocal species on either side of Wilden Lane; they are larger than Barn Owls. Their call is the ‘towit twoo’, the call that people often associate with owls. The ‘towit’ is the female call, and the ‘twoo’ is the male answering the female ‘towit’. Barn Owls are light-brown and buff in colour, with a white face and underside. The Tawny owls are a brown colour all over. Barn Owls make shrieking calls that can seem unearthly on a quiet dark night on the marsh. It is the Barn Owl, with its white face and underside, which can give the impression of a ghostly figure moving silently through the night sky. It is not difficult to see how ghost, ghoul and vampire fables end-up being associated with the woodland creatures of the night – particularly flying creatures.

It’s a pity that I don’t have suitable infra-red cameras to photograph owls at night. I’ll just have to be satisfied with watching them.

6 thoughts on “Owls.

  1. I have heard the owls you have written about, hooting in Hoo Wood and down there on the sugar beet field, when I have been lying in bed at night. They are very creepy sounds. Hooting owls and goblins! I just don’t know how you are able to wander around the marsh at night with out being afraid. The thought of it frightens me silly. Which part of the marsh is scariest at night?

    When I played the owl calls from your latest post, my dog began barking and running around in circles.

    I really enjoy reading your blog. Thank you.


    • Thanks for your comment, Jill.

      I don’t suffer from night fears. I know why they occur and what is likely to trigger them, but I don’t see that there is much difference between night fears and the fear of spiders. I have spent too much time travelling in darkness for it to bother me now. Even as a youngster the darkness attracted me. I am well aware that people on the marsh at night might be there for nefarious purposes, but this can be the case during the day, too. Approaching people on the marsh at night is not a good idea, and normally I wouldn’t do it – they could be a mad axe person, or a murderer!

      I think I would be more likely to see someone on the marsh at night before they saw me. If someone does happen to see me first, and they not supposed to be there, I think it probable that they would hide from me.

      As to your question about which is the scariest place on the marsh. I don’t think anywhere on the marsh is scary. However, alongside Hoo Brook can be pretty spooky at times, particularly when the wind is blowing hard.

      I hope you continue to enjoy reading this blog. It is people like yourself who comment and ask questions that make the process of writing more enjoyable.


  2. A bit sharp today, don’t you think?

    I’ve been dredging my pond this morning. It’s a right mess at the moment. I have decided to clean it up now, put some reeds and things in it, and see what wildlife it will attract next year. It’s something to look forward to.

    There has been an Barn Owl perched on the apex of my barn, on the other side of the yard from my bedroom. It’s been there most nights for a week or more. It shrieks and it shriefks, and then flies away every so often. Last night I listened hard and could just about hear a female in the distance. The male and the female exchanged calls what seemed a long time, ten minutes I would say, and then the old owl flew off again. I wonder if he was flying off to the same female all the time, or if he was visiting different ones.


  3. Indeed it was, John! It was hat, jacket, scarf and gloves weather. Mind you, the temperature is likely to be up around the 18 and 19 degrees centigrade again over the next few days.

    I am impressed by your pond project. Is the mud lovely and smelly?

    You will have to keep me updated on your progress and your pond plans. Have you dredged-up anything interesting?

    I have just arrived back from owling in Hoo Wood, so a nice cup of tea is now required.


  4. Thanks Mike.

    Yes it is a mite smelly and mucky around the pond, but I haven’t found anything of particular interest or value. Last year I saw a rainbow and one end of it was sitting in my pond. This was another reason why I wanted to dredge it, but I haven’t found a crock of gold. I am still looking, but I am not banking on finding it.

    Much rubbish has emerged form the depths. A milk churn, various tiles and bricks, a rotten pot bellied stove, clay pipes and loads of cow bones. The dredging process has increased the size of the pond. I think I am changing it into a lake.

    To be honest, I am at the point where I’m wondering if I should have left things well alone. The project is growing beyond my original plan. I should have put it all on paper instead of working things out in my head in the tractor when I was haymaking.

    Had a chap turn up last afternoon. He said he was an amateur historian and he had one of those metal detectors and a spade with him. He said a battle had taken place on my land and could he have permission to survey it. I don’t want anyone digging pot holes all over my land, but the chap’s enthusiasm was infectious. I said he could give it a go and I went out with him foe half an hour. He found a large old iron key and an old grass hook. You never know. He could make me rich.


  5. Well, John, you have three chances to make some money: a crock of gold, a cash stash in one of your fields, and charging people to fish your lake. What are the odds at least one of these projects paying off?


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