On the evening of 1 December Dalena Roux was taking her usual walk around the Reservoir Street dam when her dog Jessie drew her attention to an owl, sitting on the ground behind the bench on the dam wall above the school tennis courts. It was not clear whether the bird was hurt although it seemed unable to fly and scrambled around in the scrub.
Concerned that dogs could attack and harm the owl, Dalena called the Tatler. We immediately called Ina Els who regularly walks at the dam in the evenings and is used to dealing with animals. She was on her way to the scene within minutes. We then called Nick Norman who lives next to the dam. The “Nick, there’s a crisis at the dam can you go there immediately?” call alarmed him, as he knew of the fire at the Berg River Dam where a number of people had fought a brave fight the previous night. When he realised the dam in question was the one next to his house and an owl was in trouble, he grabbed a towel and joined Dalena and Ina. The frightened Spotted Eagle Owl was not easy to catch but was outsmarted by the intrepid trio, assisted by Ben Astfalk who had come with his father Jeremy and joined the rescue party. It turned out to be a juvenile that was not injured but could not yet fly. Nick took it home in the towel and put it in a box supplied by Jeremy, where it was safe and dark.
Caro Iuel, a passionate and experienced animal carer, came to have a look and suggested that the owl be taken to Spier. That is exactly what happened and the young bird was put in a big aviary with other owlets and surrogate mothers who feed them. When the Franschhoek owl can fly and is ready to be released, Nick will fetch it and bring it home where it can live a natural life in ‘wild’ surroundings.
Nick has asked residents who come across an owl, or any other helpless, vulnerable bird around the dam, to call him immediately on his cell phone (083 287 5756) to see whether the bird can be successfully rescued.
Kudos to the Franschhoekers who went out of their way to rescue one of our beloved Spotted Eagle Owls and give it the best possible chance of a good life.