Things are a little quiet here fieldwork wise as the rains have come which means a) the dogs move far and wide and prove very elusive to find and b) we cant move very far after them without getting stuck in the mud! So unfortunately it’s the time of year for catching up with long-ignored paperwork in the office. Uurrgghh.
However, the arrival of a beautiful little owl to keep us company has improved things somewhat. ‘Owl’ was found as a tiny chick and raised by colleagues of mine from Gonarezhou NP, Hugo & Elsabe van der Westhuizen. I am just babysitting him while they are away.
For the first few weeks, it was not even clear what species he was – an owl, or at least a rator of some kind, was obvious, but it was a while before we knew exactly what he was…
Then one day it became apparent he was a beautiful little white-faced owl – here he is at about 3 weeks old. (Photo by Elsabe)
Anyhow, so now he is living with me for a while and has made himself very much part of family. He is not yet fully fledged, but flies about the house a little bit, crash landing on any available surface. He particularly liked my bowls filled with shells or seedpods and kept trying to burrow into them then falling off, so I made him his very own nest and he spends most of the day happily dozing in that…
He likes to be at the highest point in the room, so his basket is on the mantel piece and he seems very much at home there! Almost looks like an ornament himself!
Ultimately, when he is fully fledged, he will be released back in the area he came from – a soft release done over time so he always knows he can return to Elsabe for food. But in order to help him develop the necessary skills, I’ve been feeding him chicken heads, so he has to work to get the meat, like a proper owl would…he’s getting good at it now.