Distressing incident on the way home from Diss last night. I was sailing along on a clear road at about 11 o’clock when up ahead I saw what I thought was a dead rabbit. Just before I reached it a large domed head turned to face the oncoming car. It was a tawny owl. It made no attempt to leave the ground. I hit it at sixty mph and felt the thump of the fragile feathered body on the metalwork of the car. It may have been an injured bird or a healthy one feeding on road kill. Either way it shook us. I caught myself thinking how much worse it would have been if it had been a barn owl – though that made no real sense at all.
This morning I discovered that the Hawk and Owl Trust keep a register of owl fatalities. This seemed bizarre but apparently they have a good reason. At traffic/owl hotspots they are going to trial a system which sounds an audible alarm at the approach of headlights. This is supposed to scare off the owls who may be hunting along the road. It works for moose in the frozen north apparently. I filled in the form and reported the demise of our tawny. Next week I hope to see Owl Wardens in flourescent jackets with SWORD (Save Wild Owls from Road Death) emblazoned on the back marshalling the traffic along the A143 by Palgrave Wood.
I’m kidding about the wardens. But not SWORD. That really is what the trust are calling their initiative.