The Secret Campsite is surrounded by beautiful and lovingly managed woodland, in particular Knowlands Wood. Knowlands is managed as a private nature reserve by owner Nick Lear and his family. Lots of native creatures spill out of Knowlands on a daily basis and campers get the chance to encounter them.

During our mini summer getaway, for a night in the Tree Tent we were thrilled to hear the familiar ‘twit twoo’ of Tawny Owls. They were calling all around the campsite. There were so many calling points, it felt like the whole of sussex was filled with owls.

What’s that sound?

Did you know that the classic call is actually more of a ‘kewick’ from the female and ‘hoohoo’ of the male? You may be able to hear the separate calls in this sound clip. These elusive creatures most likely hunt in the woodland which surrounds the campsite, a habitat that their short wings and silent flight are well adapted to.

I often look upwards during dusk/dawn woodland wanders, they may be perched right above you. A good sign is an area under a tree with lots of droppings underneath a branch. They seem to be quite habitual.

barn owl pellet
It’s actually a barn owl pellet, but you get the gist

At this time of year we often hear large numbers of tawny owls hooting around the campsite. This is apparently because this summers young are trying to establish territories in the area. They are rather similar to human children, in that they take a while to move away from the location where they grew up.

Unlike us humans, perhaps, Tawny Owl parents are keen to chase their offspring away once their rearing work is completed. This continuous calling that we hear throughout the night is the result of all parties trying to assert their claim to a patch of the beautiful sussex woodland where they can live, eat and breed.

Tawny owls are excellent predators and they feed mainly on insects, rodents, small birds, frogs and worms. Not quite the diet that I lie in bed feeling envious of. But, it obviously works well for them, judging from the noise they make around the campsite. You might want to bring some ear plugs.

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