A New Family 

by Mary Walker

Last year we moved into our “retirement” bungalow. It backs onto woodland and 100 yards beyond that is the River Yare. The UEA broad is a stone’s throw away. We soon had our bird feeders unpacked and erected and waited with anticipation as to what our garden birds would be.

A whole new selection emerged, grab and run Marsh Tits, five Bullfinches always feeding together, Blackcap, Nuthatch, Song Thrush, Treecreeper, Lesser Redpoll, a male Great Spot with his two wives in tow. A Female Lesser Spot appeared on four occasions in February. Two Grey Wagtails found our small water feature, Buzzards soared overhead, alongside Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and of late a Hobby. Little Egrets and Grey Herons pass by.

We knew there was a Tawny Owl about, so we asked WVBS member Alec Waller if he could make us an Owl Box. He happily agreed. Another WVBS member was coerced into climbing the Ash Tree at the back of our garden to erect the box.

At the next indoor meeting Alec asked if the box was up. “Yes” we smugly replied. “Did you put some bedding in?” was the next question. So our friend with the huge ladders scaled the tree again armed with a bucketful of mixed fresh molehill soil and sawdust, and attempted to post this in the box although as much landed on Keith’s head as he monitored from below!

This was on  1st November, December passed as did January, February and March with no activity observed. Then on 22nd April we were startled to see an adult Tawny Owl sitting outside the box as bold as brass in the middle of the day. Five days she appeared to stay and every time we went out in the garden she popped back into the box. All our fingers and toes were crossed. Then she vanished.

A grey squirrel that kept peering into the box was accused of Murder & Gluttony and anything else we could think of. Our attempts had failed.

But No!!!——- on 4th May a tiny furry grey head appeared, shortly followed by another. We hadTawny Owls succeeded!!! The two baby chicks grew by the hour. Larger and browner every time they had a wing stretch. Dad was very attentive bringing mice and voles which were gobbled up in seconds. Friends and neighbours appeared at the door asking if they could have a look at our babies. Then on 8th May whilst I was in Dorset with the WVBS they fledged.

As I write (7th June) they are still very much alive and well, and still only a few yards from the house hidden amongst the nettles and brambles within the wood. We hear them every night loudly demanding food from their parents. It has been such a joy to watch the new family emerge and we feel very privileged.

So fellow WVBS members, as we all know, the small task of putting bird boxes up pays dividends.

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