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LOOK: Baby owls spotted near Mabel’s perch in Christchurch Park

PUBLISHED: 10:22 24 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:41 26 May 2020

Matilda, believed to be one of the chick's of Christchurch Park's famous owl, Mabel, may have had owlets herself Picture: PAUL SHERMAN

Matilda, believed to be one of the chick's of Christchurch Park's famous owl, Mabel, may have had owlets herself Picture: PAUL SHERMAN

A new generation of owls has arrived in Ipswich’s Christchurch Park, with two chicks spotted close to the perch of popular tawny owl, Mabel.

An owl that looked similar to Mabel returned to Mabel's  tree in Christchurch Park back in November 2019 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAn owl that looked similar to Mabel returned to Mabel's tree in Christchurch Park back in November 2019 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mabel was a popular attraction for many visitors to the park, regularly seen nesting at the top of the same tree since 2007. The council even put a wooden carving at the base of her tree in her honour.

Then, two years after her last sighting, a new owl appeared in the same spot in November 2019 – and park rangers believe it is one of Mabel’s chicks, later named Matilda by the readers of the Ipswich Star.

And eagle-eyed birdwatchers have spotted etwo fuzzy owlets perched on the branches close by Mabel’s spot this weekend.

Matilda has been seen relaxing in a tree as her two owlets sit high in the next tree in Christchurch Park Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMatilda has been seen relaxing in a tree as her two owlets sit high in the next tree in Christchurch Park Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

One Ipswich resident, Paul Sherman spotted the chicks on a walk through the park – but he believes the adult tawny owl is Mabel herself, not Matilda, which would make her at least 13 years old.

Mr Sherman said: “Mabel has had owlets this year and they have now appeared.

“She had two this year and despite the wind they have now left their nest tree and were today in the next tree over.

According to visitors to Christchurch Park, the owlets have been spotted in the tree next to Mabel and Matilda's usual perch Picture: PAUL SHERMANAccording to visitors to Christchurch Park, the owlets have been spotted in the tree next to Mabel and Matilda's usual perch Picture: PAUL SHERMAN

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“One was in the cover of the inner part of the tree while the other was on an outer limb and, at times, hanging on for dear life when the wind got up.

“Although it has been dismissed by some that this is Mabel, I believe it is her as this one behaves in exactly the same as she has done over the past eight years I have been watching her.

The owlets are visible in Christchurch Park and have been photographed for the first time over the bank holiday weekend Picture: PAUL SHERMANThe owlets are visible in Christchurch Park and have been photographed for the first time over the bank holiday weekend Picture: PAUL SHERMAN

“She sits in the tree the same way and she’s not afraid of people, it’s just not likely to have two owls behave the same way, in the same place at roughly the same time.

“I think that argument will rumble on for some time.”

Tawny owls live for an average of five years, but there are records of some living for up to 18 years.

One of the two owlets sitting high in a tree at Christchurch Park, with mum close by in another tree Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOne of the two owlets sitting high in a tree at Christchurch Park, with mum close by in another tree Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Reg Snook, who previously wrote a book on Mabel, said: “It is impossible for me to say it definitely is Mabel, but one thing is for sure is that the feathering is the same.

“This could easily be one of Mabel’s offspring - maybe even a grandson or granddaughter. It will happily sit there all day despite people coming to say hello and will only go inside the tree when it’s had enough.

“It is just a wonderful story, isn’t it?”


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