Coincidentally, just as our elder daughter starts reading her first Harry Potter book, we have the opportunity to save an owl at Sainte Rose! The owl that we found in our Chardonnay block was no Hedwig, but was in fact a 3 year old ‘Grand Duke’ (Latin name ‘Bubo bubo’) or Eurasian Eagle Owl, one of the world’s largest owls more commonly sighted in sparcely populated, rocky, mountainous areas! It had most certainly hit a wire or electricity post whilst hunting and we thought it had broken a wing. We still don’t know what sex the owl is, but we named him Hector l’hibou for fun!
A quick call was made to the Ligue pour le Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), the French equivalent of the RSPB and one of their representatives advised us to catch Hector and contain him until one of their representatives could come and collect him. The owl would certainly die if it was not captured and treated. Catching him however was no easy task as although Hector was injured, he could still run very fast on the ground, ducking under the rows of vines easily compared to the ungainly humans in pursuit! He was also very aggressive and could only be caught and handled when covered with a blanket!
The LPO came to collect Hector later that morning and called later in the day with an update on how the owl was doing. It was not the wing that was broken, but one of the large and very important wing feathers, without which Hector could not fly. They confirmed that this was definitely a ‘Grand Duke’ and, having examined stomach contents, that our Domaine was part of his established hunting territory. So the LPO will continue to look after Hector until the feather has regrown (literally!), and once he is ready they will bring him back to Sainte Rose to release.
So we look forward to a happy ending for Hector l’hibou and will keep an eye out for the ‘Grand Duke’ patrolling his territory in the future!