Tuesday 2 October 2012

Going agley

I was such a fool, not only to make a plan but to put it in writing.  Of course it didn't work out.

It was 12.50 am and the Sage and I were peacefully slumbering when I was woken by a noise on the roof.  When something falls down the chimney, it's usually a pigeon, but it wasn't that this time, so I could only think it was a squirrel.

Funnily enough, last week I had a conversation about such events with Wink and some others, about the problems of bats in the house, squirrels down the chimney, various creatures making their way in and causing havoc.  And I said a squirrel wasn't likely to get into our house by the chimney route as the pot is 6 foot tall.  Oh, bitter irony, I thought, in the small hours, as the animal bashed about trying to get through the board that blocks the fireplace.  It settled down later however, and I went back to sleep for an hour until it tried again.  There was also a bleeping sound, which was probably something with a running-down battery (I haven't found that yet, must look again).  So I decided to sleep in the next room and crept out, the Sage still being asleep.  However, he'd shut the door on that room in the hope I wouldn't notice that he'd put a whole lot of Stuff in there (I was well aware, obv) and, as that door is slightly warped, opening it is a bit noisy.  I may well have woken him, I'm afraid.

I put my book, iPad and iPhone under the pillow (these are necessary, they're my security blankets) and had quite a good night's sleep after that, but I didn't get up very early.  And then, having got a towel and a pair of gloves, we opened the windows and shut the door and cautiously took the board from the fireplace.  No squirrel.  Instead, a barn owl, which immediately took refuge up the chimney.

The Sage suggested leaving the fireplace and windows open, but I've been caught that way before, because there's no way of knowing if the bird has left or not, so we balanced the board back and agreed to have another go later. And later, he went out and Dilly and Hay came round for a chat and it wasn't until they left that I realised that Elle, who had a free period first thing, should have been downstairs for breakfast by then and I went up - but I glanced in the bedroom and there was the owl on the windowsill.  When it saw me, it flew to the other window, thwacked into the glass and lay stunned.  Anxiously, I went across and picked it up.  Darlings, you know how beautiful a barn owl is and I feel quite lucky to have held one.  And it was all right, thank goodness, though a minute later it shot its back legs out, intending to fly away (but I was holding it securely) and the claws went through my jumper, into my shoulder and one curved claw got caught.  It was so curved that I couldn't extricate it so went down in search of Dilly for some help.

It weighed remarkably little, far less than a pigeon although it was larger.  Incredibly soft feathers.  That chimney is never used and isn't sooty at all, thank goodness, so no mess.

It was all right, it had disentangled itself by the time I got outside, I put it on the table and it flew (or flue, as Rog put it) strongly away.  And Elle's alarm hadn't gone off, so I woke her and she had to hurry, but still had time for breakfast.  And I've done Meals on Wheels and the first letter of all the work I have otherwise still to do.

Later, possibly, depending on what's happening around here, I hope to come back and tell you about my holiday.

Oh yes, pictures....

What an oddly wrinkled thumb I seem to have.
It didn't try to peck, which was quite a relief.  I'd rather handle an owl than a squirrel, though I suspect I'd come off worse against an aggressive owl.
It's a very small puncture (please excuse the glimpse of Zunderwear).


Liz said...

Having followed this episode on Twitter, I am delighted to see a photo of your feathered visitor.

At least there was no mess. Years ago, I had a starling come down the chimney when I lived at my flat. I came home from work to discover a terrified bird trapped in my lounge and the evidence of its terror splattered all over the room.

Z said...

The people who had a squirrel in the house found that, in its attempts to get out, it had gnawed the windowsill. And my daughter had a cat get into her house overnight and it left its mark in various places.

Rog said...

What a lovely creature!

Zig said...

oooooo fab bra strap!

dinahmow said...

Probably my favourite raptor.And you and the "barny" were both lucky not to be hurt. Although it does seem to have frayed your strap somewhat. ;-)

(if you need to know...they have a tendon in the foot which works like a ratchet-the more prey struggles, the tighter the talons grip)

Unknown said...

Quite agree Rog. And the owl's not bad either.

Unknown said...

On a serious note, Barn owls are lovely birds, and very rare these days in our area. It's great that you still have them, and that you rescued one.

Z said...

It comes across as grey, but it's more café au lait. All matching, obv. I take my underwear seriously and always look nice - you never know when you'll fetch up in A&E.

Ooh, Mike, you're so smooth...

I was very relieved that the owl didn't go for me, I expected beak as well as talons to be employed - in fact, the minor puncture wasn't intentional at all.

We hear barn owls teaching their young every year. There were tawny owls but the barn owls seem to have the upper hand at present. Quite a number around here, seeing them is a very exciting experience every time.

mig said...

How wonderful. Lovely to see the photos, they really are charming birds - even though a very sharp at the ends!

Z said...

I was more prepared for the beak than the accidental attack by talons