Owl did you get in there? Tawny in a tangle in Sydenham

Some people obviously do give a hoot about owls.

Residents called in the RSPCA when one ended up in deep water, after getting tangled in pond netting in a garden.

It might be mating season, but it was obviously too wet to woo.

RSPCA animal rescue officer Mat Hawkins was called to Sydenham on Tuesday (8 March) after a resident spotted the tawny owl in trouble.

Mat said: “The poor owl was discovered in the morning. I suspect he swooped in to catch a mouse that was scurrying near the pond the night before but got his leg in the netting and ended up in the water where he struggled and got further tangled.

“I pulled on my waders and got into the pond but I was worried about him drowning in the struggle so I used my net to scoop him from underneath, give him some support, and prevent him from dropping below the surface.

“He’d obviously been struggling to escape for some time as the poor thing was completely exhausted and barely moved while I set about cutting him free from the netting.”

Mat took the owl to South Essex Wildlife Hospital where experts checked him over and, thankfully, confirmed there were no injuries.

He was given a clean bill of health and Mat returned to the garden on Thursday night (9 March) to release him back into the wild.

Owl sheltering

He added: “It’s always so nice when you get to see a job all the way through like this. Our aim is to prevent suffering and to get these beautiful creatures back into the wild where they belong.

“Thankfully, this stunning owl will live to fly another night – and I hope he stays away from any further netting in the future.”

Mat added: “It’s great that these homeowners checked their pond netting and were able to call us for help in good time, otherwise this owl could have become even more exhausted, dehydrated and poorly.

“I’d like to remind gardeners that all kinds of garden netting, including pond or fruit netting, can be a real hazard to wild animals and the RSPCA recommends replacing them with solid metal mesh.”

Other wildlife-friendly garden tips recommended by the RSPCA include making sure that ponds have steps, ramps or sloped edges to allow wild animals like hedgehogs to escape, checking for wildlife such as toads when strimming or mowing areas usually left untouched and replacing pesticides – in particular slug pellets which can kill cats and dogs – with egg shells, coffee grounds or fine sand.

If you spot an animal in distress, call the RSPCA’s emergency hotline on 0300 1234 999 for advice or to request help from an officer.

Please do not try to free an animal from netting yourself, as animals can have serious injuries if they become tightly entangled, so it’s best that they are examined to check if they need veterinary treatment before being released.

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.




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