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Buzzed by a tawny owl

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Old Thursday 28th May 2020, 15:48   #1
Cinclus2
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Buzzed by a tawny owl

This morning I was on a footpath above the Water of Leith in Edinburgh, photographing a wren, when I looked up and saw an owl flying straight at me, head-height, completely silent.

As it got to about 10 feet away I tried to take evasive action, tripped and fell over 😂. As I did so it banked fast into the trees and disappeared.

The whole episode took about 3-4 seconds but I got clear sight of the owl's face and eyes as it glided in fast towards me, and don't think I'll forget it for a long time.

The main reason for posting this is to ask whether anyone's heard of this kind of behaviour before, and if so, what explains it. I'm guessing I may have been near it's nest, or something like that, without realising?

Thanks

Jim
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Old Thursday 28th May 2020, 16:26   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinclus2 View Post
The main reason for posting this is to ask whether anyone's heard of this kind of behaviour before, and if so, what explains it. I'm guessing I may have been near it's nest, or something like that, without realising?

Thanks

Jim
Yes, be careful. It'll have your bloody eye out, if you're not watching.

http://www.johnchillingworth.co.uk/EricHosking.html
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Old Thursday 28th May 2020, 19:37   #3
Cinclus2
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[quote=Britseye;4007484]Yes, be careful. It'll have your bloody eye out, if you're not watching.

Thanks! I'll certainly #stayalert next time I'm walking that way

This is my first thread on here (I've just registered) and wasn't sure what reception it would get
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Old Thursday 28th May 2020, 20:48   #4
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[quote=Cinclus2;4007585]
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Originally Posted by Britseye View Post
Yes, be careful. It'll have your bloody eye out, if you're not watching.

Thanks! I'll certainly #stayalert next time I'm walking that way

This is my first thread on here (I've just registered) and wasn't sure what reception it would get
Hi again.

I ought to point out the Hosking's incident was an extremely rare (but infamous) incident so I wouldn't want you to become too paranoid every time you go out birding! . I was just looking through the Birds of Western Palearctic encyclopedia I have on my computer for further information and it talks about various incidences of Tawny Owls in defence of their young (not eggs). The occasional blow to the back of the head has been noted, but more frequently an observer between the adult (usually female) and the young is more likely to be assailed by a vocal attack or by the bird flying at the observer and veering off at the last moment. Occasionally wing distraction displays, rather like Plovers, have been noted.

I've been around young Tawny Owls quite a bit in the last few summers. I assume it's mostly when the birds are very young and quite helpless that the parents aggression is at its most intense? If I'm following up on a calling bird, I will remember the Hosking's incident and keep an arm in front of my face, but as I say, genuine attacks seem to be very rare. I imagine old Eric probably spent a fair bit of time around bird's nests and actively pursued birds to photograph through the breeding season, including Owls, so the percentage time he spent inviting an attack was far greater than my (or your) casual interest from time to time. Who knows...from your post, the fact you fell over, it would be hard to know whether the bird was just making an escape flight that happened to intersect with your path and wasn't intent on harming you in any way? I came face to face with a hunting Short-eared Owl just a few days ago but on seeing me it simply did a ninety-degree turn and carried on with its business.

I'm hoping to reassure you about the 'dangers' of Tawny Owls. If you ever find yourself looking for other Owl species in the breeding season in Northern and Eastern Europe, beware! Some of the bigger ones ARE genuinely more aggressive and dangerous by nature.

Welcome to birdforum, by the way This is a very good subsection for new members finding their feet and to receive help and encouragement on all facets of our wonderful pursuit.
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Old Friday 29th May 2020, 06:26   #5
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Very interesting - and reassuring - many thanks.

Thanks too for the welcome!
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Old Friday 29th May 2020, 07:26   #6
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Not been personally attacked by a Tawny Owl, but our cat was!
Standing in the garden one night, the cat came running round the corner of the house ,like a bat out of hell.
She was being chased by a Tawny Owl which was flew past me, a metre away, at knee-height chasing the cat.
The cat flew round the other corner, pursued by the owl.
When I eventually caught up with her she was in a state of trauma and ran inside the house.
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Old Friday 29th May 2020, 19:57   #7
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After my recent encounter I can imagine how that may have had a powerful effect on you. And the cat..

Funny in retrospect though!
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Old Friday 29th May 2020, 20:57   #8
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Hi Cinclus and a warm welcome to you from all the Staff and Moderators.

All things Scottish can be found here. Also, keep an eye on threads titled something like Scottish Bashes; we try to meet up occasionally (if we're ever allowed to again!!) and they're always great fun. You'd be most welcome to join us on another if you can manage.

Some years ago, one of our members from Wales was in a wood and found a very young owl on the ground (not in a safe place), so lifted it and put it on a branch. The next thing he knew he was thwacked on the back of the head by an adult!!! That's gratitude for you!

I'm sure you will enjoy it here and I look forward to hearing your news.
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Old Saturday 30th May 2020, 19:58   #9
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Hi Cinclus and a warm welcome to you from all the Staff and Moderators.
Hi Delia, many thanks for the warm welcome! Thanks too for pointing me to the Scotland forum. I'm fairly new to birding, still finding my way, and obviously new to the forum so that's really helpful.

James
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Old Tuesday 2nd June 2020, 14:35   #10
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I went back today and found my owl!
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Old Tuesday 2nd June 2020, 14:39   #11
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.... and lived to tell the tale I see James

Lovely pictures those lad. Well done.
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2006 63, 2007 52, 2008 46, 2009 32, 2010 31, 2011 27 Total 81 Last Patch tick: Magpie (locally scarce)

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Is not to die - Thomas Campbell (17771844)


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Old Tuesday 2nd June 2020, 19:24   #12
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I went back today and found my owl!
One on the right hand side: Best bird photo I've seen in months. Sincerely.
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