Maybe it's Mabel? Owl spotted in famous Tawny's roost in Christchurch Park
PUBLISHED: 11:08 13 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:20 13 November 2019
CHRIS LEGENDRE (@REEDERWILDLIFE)
An owl has been spotted today in the Christchurch Park tree once home to famous tawny Mabel... But is it her?
Pictures of the owl surfacing on social media have caused quite the hoot, with many believing it could well be the famed feathered bird back in her oak tree.
Mabel became one of the park's best-loved attractions after first being spotted in 2007. Traditionally timid creatures, owls usually stay out of sight of humans and remain nocturnal - but not Mabel, who would happily sit out during the daylight.
But sadly she remained out of sight for two years, with the last recorded sighting being made in 2017 - after she took an earlier than usual maternity leave.
Tawny owls typically survive in the wild for five years, although have been known to live as long as 18. So if this is indeed marvellous Mabel - she could be quite the miracle.
And amazingly, a spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said park rangers are confident it really is her.
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?"
Wildlife photographer Chris Legendre, 55, who rushed to the park upon hearing the news, said: "I take a lot of photographs of owls, but jumped at the chance to take a picture of the famous Mabel.
"I've seen tawny owls in the open like this but never in a public park. It is unusual behaviour.
"I was so surprised to see it there - there is always a chance it could be her, but it is a very nice spot for an owl to roost."
While some fear Mabel may move on with increased visitors - it seems that after years of making her face known in the town, Mabel may just have returned for her share of the limelight.
But one thing that is for certain is Mabel's legacy has lived on in her absence, both through her children and in a permanent statue built near her tree to commemorate her and the smiles she brought to the town.