As temperatures continue to soar, a video of an owl cooling off in wildlife artist and greeting card publisher Robert E Fuller’s garden pond has captured the nation’s attention. The video, which was filmed by surveillance cameras in the artist’s garden in North Yorkshire, features a tawny owl bathing in brilliant sunshine – behaviour that was described as ‘unprecedented’ for a nocturnal bird.
The owl was first spotted hopping into the pond by visitors to an exhibition at the artist’s gallery in Thixendale last week. Robert Fuller, the artist behind the wildlife art card publisher The Robert Fuller Gallery, shares live cameras relaying images from more than 40 wildlife cameras in his garden with visitors to his gallery. He described the owl as splashing water onto itself with its wings and drinking great gulps of water from the pond.
The clip was picked up by BBC Radio before going online, where journalists dubbed the owl as cooling off in a ‘hoot tub’. It reached the BBC News Online’s number one Top Video. (See picture attached). It also appeared on Yahoo News and on the Daily Mail. After the clip of the lone bathing owl went viral, the artist cameras captured two more owls bathing in the same ‘hoot tub’ and a third owl actually swimming in the pond.
Robert Fuller, who uses wildlife cameras to watch wildlife for his paintings, said it was very unusual to see a tawny owl bathe during the day. “I have used surveillance cameras to watch wild animals for my paintings for a number of years now and have a lifetime’s experience of watching owls in the wild but this is the most extraordinary behaviour I have observed from an owl – in fact I think it is unprecedented.
“These birds are nocturnal and rarely come out to bathe like this in daylight. But what is particularly unusual is to see a tawny owl drinking. Most birds of prey get their moisture from their food. This bird is really gulping down the water.”
To see two owls bathing together the following night was an added joy, said the artist. “I only dug that pond a year ago.”
Temperatures in Thixendale reached 29 degrees last week. Although not as high as other parts of the country, these temperatures are high for Yorkshire. “Relentless sunshine has a cumulative effect. The ground is hard and very dry, reflecting back the heat.”