Sunday, 20 June 2010

Short sighted owl?

Last night we saw a Tawny Owl on one of the power lines. It had been there quite a few minutes before it flew off. This in itself is not unusual I hear you say. And quite right too.

What was unusual was this. It flew across the garden just as a bat flew in front of it and the owl actually hit a power cable! I have no idea whether the ultrasonics from the bat confused it because owls have incredibly sensitive hearing, or if it was a young bird or possibly even sick and weakened. It did fly off into a tree so I'm hoping it was OK in the long term.

Close encounters

On Thursday and Friday just gone I was running a private course for a chap called Chris. He was keen on learning about tracking and was up for an intensive 2 days of solid learning and experiences.

Well we certainly managed some fantastic wildlife experiences. The first one was whilst squatted down in the middle of a track talking about camouflage. A little earlier we had heard a rabbit screaming, having been caught by a predator - most likely a fox. After a short while the screaming stopped but then started up again a little further along a field edge. This happened about 3 times and I speculated that it was a vixen teaching her cub(s) how to kill.

Anyway, whilst talking to Chris I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye and told Chris to be quiet and not move. It was a fox cub coming round the corner! How cool was that. What was even cooler was that it kept on coming towards us and eventually came up and sniffed us both before heading off into the undergrowth. So where cub goes - mum goes!

I thought she couldn't be too far away so we decided to stalk down the track and see if we could see her coming up. Well we did indeed meet her just on the corner but the interesting thing was she didn't actually see us but she did smell us and then legged it at high velocity. We were only about 10 feet from her before she ran. An absolutely brilliant experience!

The next day we were walking up another track and I heard a noise down near the stream. So we stopped, waited and a few minutes later a young male Red Deer appeared - then another three turned up. Interestingly they decided that they weren't going to hang around but the first one was slowly working its way up towards us.

To cut a long story short - this youngster made its way right up to us and leaped onto the track about 10 feet from us. It stood there for a few moments and then saw us and bolted. It then stopped and didn't really know what to do because it just stood there before bolting again. It did this a couple more times before heading off up a bank and disappearing into the woods. We then had a fun half an hour or so tracking it on hard ground and marvelling at how high it could jump in one leap.

Needless to say it was a great couple of days with some fantastic close encounters. It just goes to show the power of the zone in.

Happy tracking.