Something for the long suffering Ladies
A Cautionary Tale
The late, great Frank Muir told a story of driving his beloved Lagonda on St Anne’s Hill in Surrey, up from Thorpe and down into Chertsey, when round the corner came a woman driver at speed in a clapped-out, dented Morris Minor, missing his beautiful car by a centimetre. She wound down the window furiously and yelled at him ‘PIG!’ ‘Women drivers!’ he snorted, drove on round the corner and hit a pig.
All good things,
About eight years ago, I wrote a little book for our young Grandson, silly little stories really. I wrote a story about the owls that nest in our garden, Jane.
Guess what Charlie
One day about seven years ago at Jane and John’s house in the country, there was a terrible commotion. Jane could hear Sophie and Archie, our brother and sister large dogs barking like mad. Jane wondered what all the noise was about, and so went off in the direction of the barking. Sophie and Archie were underneath the Pepper tree out the front and barking like mad at something in the tree.
“Oh,” thought Jane, “I bet there is a cat up the tree, this is going to be a bit tricky, as it is usually quite difficult to get a cat down from a tree.” John had tried once before and had been scratched for his troubles. “Right, Sophie and Archie, come away like good dogs,” and Jane looked up into the tree, but could see no cat. Then guess what Charlie, what do you think Jane saw? She saw two owls sitting on the branch. She was beside herself with excitement, and went running indoors to tell John, but she was talking so fast, he couldn’t understand her.
“Wooah, slow down,” he said, “Start at the beginning,” “Well Sophie and Archie were barking up at the pepper tree, I thought there was a cat up there, but there wasn’t, there are two owls up there, come and see.” So they went around to the front and had a look, it was quite difficult to find them again, because they blend in with the leaves, but eventually they spotted them, they had quite tall pointed ears, and when John went indoors, he switched on the computer to find out all about owls. After a while, John called out, “Found them”, they are long eared owls.” “Well that’s good, at least we know what they are called,” said Jane.
Meanwhile, up in the tree, the two owls, whose names were Boris and Maria, were having a little chat. “You know, we have been flying over this house for a little while now,” said Boris,” and I am jolly glad we decided to stop in this tree,” “I am too,” said Maria, “My wings were getting so tired, it seems a nice place, lots of trees to sit in, and plenty of fields for food,” said Boris. “Those two dogs were a bit noisy, but the lady came out and sorted them out.” Said Maria.
“We could try out that big fir tree at the front, it might make a nice change now and again,” said Boris,. “Yes there are so many trees to try here, I think we are going to be very happy here, who knows, we might decide to raise a little family, “replied Maria”
Next morning, Jane very quietly went out to see if the owls were there, but was disappointed to find them gone, “Oh well,” she thought, “maybe they were just passing through,” but then she looked up in the fir tree, and low and behold, there they were, but it was even more difficult to see them, because they were so camouflaged by the fir cones.
The days passed, sometimes they were in the Pepper tree, and sometimes they were n the fir tree. One day Maria said,” I think it is time we raised a little family, where do you think would be the best place for a nest? I don’t really want to leave this garden, because it is so nice here, we don’t get bothered by anyone, and even the dogs are used to us now.”
“I have been thinking about that,” said Boris, “What about the Cyprus trees, there is a nice bushy one at the end, it would be ideal, nothing could see us in there.” “That sounds good, we will move over there to-morrow,” said Maria.
The next day, Jane went to see the owls, but they were nowhere to be seen. “Oh dear,” she thought, “They have gone, I do hope we have not frightened them away.” The weeks passed, and every day, Jane searched the trees for the owls, but they were nowhere to be seen, she really thought they were gone for good.
Meanwhile, Boris and Maria had built a lovely cosy nest in the bushy Cyprus tree, even when the wind blew and it rained, they were still warm and dry, and at night they went out to find food. Owls have very, very, good eyesight and they are able to see very well in the dark, that is why they are called nocturnal birds, they are awake at night, and sleep during the day.
For a couple of nights, just Boris went out for food, and when he came back at the end of the second night, Maria said, “Guess What? I have laid three eggs.” “How wonderful,” said Boris, “You are a clever girl.” “You are going to be so busy now,” said Maria, “because I will have to sit on the eggs to keep them warm, I will only be able to leave them for a few minutes at a time to stretch my wings, you will have to bring me my food.” So that is what happened, poor Boris was kept very busy, fetching food for Maria.
Then guess what Charlie? One night as Maria was sitting on the eggs, she heard a little noise, and felt the eggs starting to move, after a little while, guess what happened? Yes, the eggs hatched, and Maria could feel three little owl chick, damp and squirming beneath her.
“Oh, my little darlings, aren’t you beautiful.” Just then, Boris returned with some breakfast for Maria. “Boris, the eggs have hatched, would you like to have a little peep, there are two little girls, and one little boy. “She said”. “Oh yes,” Boris replied, and he had a little peep, “Ooh, they are tiny, and they don’t have any feathers.” “No silly, the feathers will soon grow,” Maria told him.
So for the next three or four weeks, Boris and Maria were kept very busy, looking after the little chicks, and keeping the nest clean. “These chicks don’t half eat a lot, and they are growing so big, and making such a noise, I think it is almost time for them to learn to fly and leave the nest. I think they will be OK, as it is starting to get warmer at night now.” Said Maria. “I know what you mean,” replied Boris, “I am fair worn out trying to find enough food for them to eat, I hardly get a bit to eat myself.” “Right,” said Maria, “To-night we will give it a go.”
So when it got dusk, Maria gently called to the little chicks, “Come on my littles ones, hop onto the branch, you will be perfectly safe,” So very nervously, one by one, they hopped onto the branch, they wobbled a little bit, but they managed it. So every evening, they came out of the nest and hopped a little further along the branch, and each night, they got a little braver.
At the end of April, Jane and John had some guests arriving for a holiday, their names were Gordon and Marisa, and they were very keen bird watchers, so Jane told them all about the owls. The next day, Gordon said to Jane, “Seen them, we were sitting outside, and when it got dusk, we saw two adult owls and there re definitely chicks, because we can hear them, they are very noisy,” “Oh how wonderful,” said Jane, “I thought they had gone, they were obviously hidden away on the nest, that is good news,” and off she went to tell John.
Each day, the chicks grew stronger and became braver, and Gordon and Marisa managed to take some lovely photos of Boris and Maria, so they were a little sad when their holiday came to an end, because they had enjoyed watching the owls.
One night, Maria managed to get the owls to flap their little wings, Boris sat in one tree, and Maria was with the chicks on a branch near the nest and Boris started calling. “Booo, Booo, the first two chicks flapped their wings, and managed to fly the short distance over to the tree where Boris was, but the third chick, the little boy, was very frightened. “Come my sweetheart, you can do it,” “I can’t Mummy, I just can’t, I am so frightened.” Cried the little chick. Take a deep breath and flap,” said Maria, with that the little chick took a deep breath and, flapped, he took off, but oh dear, he didn’t get as far as the tree where his Daddy, and two sisters were waiting, he floated down to the ground.
“Mummy,” he squawked, “What do I do now, I am so frightened.” Maria was now very worried, and flew over to the tree where Boris was sitting, “Oh Boris, what are we going to do, our little boy is on the ground, and I am worried about that cat that sometimes comes in the garden, and what about the dogs.” “Calm down Maria, we will keep calling to him, and we will watch him carefully, if the cat comes in, we will chase it away, he will soon learn to flap his wings and take off, we will give him lots of encouragement.
As it was now warmer at night, Jane and John now slept with the bedroom window open. All of a sudden, Jane and John wer awoken by a lot of noise. “What in heaven’s name is that,” said John, “It sounds like a cross between a frog and a small dog yapping.” They also heard Booo, Booo,, “I reckon it is the owls, I think they are teaching the chicks to fly,” said John “Well, they are very noisy,” said Jane.
Next morning, Jane got up early, and when she looked out the window, she gasped, she could see a little owl chick hopping around. “Oh, my life,” she said to herself, “I had better get John up, if that cat comes in the garden, we will be in big trouble, slos Sophie and Archie might chase it,” So she woke John, (Who wasn’t best pleased,) but when he realised the problem, he soon sprung into action. “Right,” he said, “Don’t let Sophie and Archie outside, they must stay indoors, or go over to the pen, I think I will try and pick the chick up and put it on top of the pillar, or on the branch of the tree.”
So John tried to pick the chick up, but the chick wasn’t having any of that, it started to spread it’s little wings, its eyes opened very wide, and its beak, which was very sharp, went clack, clack. John said, “Well, sunshine, you are going to have to take your chance, you are not going to bite me”.
So the little chick spent quite a while hopping up and down the garden, keeping close to the fence. His Mummy and Daddy watched him very carefully to make sure no harm came to him. Eventually, he went and sheltered under the large Yuka plant, where he was out of sight and it was sheltered from the hot sun.
That night, the noise continued, and Maria and Boris kept encouraging the little chick, calling to him. “Come on sweetheart, get those little wings flapping, you can do it,” his Mummy said. “Come on son, I’m waiting for you,” called his Daddy. Even his little sisters chirped in. Finally, the little chick made an almighty effort, and he took off, just enough to get him up into the safety of the tree.
“Well done,” everyone called. “Oh, I am so tired,” the little chick said, “I think I will have a long sleep.” “Yes you had better,” said his Mummy, “because you three little ones have got to practice your flying, because the next lesson, and this is the most important one, you have got to learn to catch your own food.” “Oh,” they all said. “This sounds very difficult.” “It is,” replied Daddy, “but we will help you, let’s hope you learn quickly.”
So the three little owl chicks grew daily, they practiced their flying, and gradually they learnt to catch their own food. One night, when Maria and Boris were watching their three offspring, Maria said to Boris. “Well, it’s been hard work, but I think we have done a good job raising our first family.” “Yes, we have” replied Boris
Lying in bed, John said, “I shall be jolly glad when those owls make less noise,” “I know,” said Jane, “but not many people can say they have a family of Long Eared Owls in their garden, can they.” “No they can’t ,” said John, as they finally went to sleep.
De Jane, que vive en Lorca