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She’s back! Mabel the missing tawny owl photographed in her usual Christchurch Park tree

PUBLISHED: 11:20 24 September 2017

Mabel the tawny owl was pictured in Christchurch Park this week. Picture: VICKY PICKERING

Mabel the tawny owl was pictured in Christchurch Park this week. Picture: VICKY PICKERING


After months of worry and speculation, photographic evidence has come in to prove Mabel the tawny owl is alive, well and back in her home tree in Ipswich.

Mabel the owl in her tree. Picture: SU ANDERSONMabel the owl in her tree. Picture: SU ANDERSON

The beloved bird caused quite the stir after she disappeared from sight in Christchurch Park three weeks early in February this year, raising fears she was gone for good.

But ornithological expert Reg Snook, who has written a book about Mabel, has now received a photograph of the owl sitting in her usual Oak tree, which was taken this week by Vicky Pickering who said she was “thrilled that Mabel had returned”.

Mr Snook said he was sure the bird pictured was the very same one that had delighted viewers in Ipswich for the past decade.

“No other owl would do what Mabel does,” he said. “I don’t know any other owl which sits in the open, they don’t do that.

“Every year we take note of her feather colouration and it always matches the previous year. When a bird moults it will always obtain the plumage it had before. It’s got to be Mabel.

“People kept saying one of these days she will disappear, because tawny owls can easily get poisoned, they can get run over, she could get caught in netting.

“It’s been 10 years now and she has survived. She’s got to go some time but we are pleased she’s back.

“I haven’t seen her but I have got the photograph which is proof that she is back.”

He added: “People like walking past and saying ‘morning Mabel’. It’s obvious from the reports that people are missing her.”

Although tawny owls are common in Suffolk, they are not often spotted because of their nocturnal nature.

However, Mabel is considered unique as she will happily sit in her perch during the day, which has helped to earn her the title of one of the most photographed birds in the country.

In the past, Mabel has always disappeared down her tree from March to August/September while she lays her eggs and then looks after the young.

This year, it seems the feathered beauty just went for maternity leave early.

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