Last night we had a wonderful visitor to our garden. Just before we turned on the television we heard the unmistakeable call of a Southern Boobook Owl in our garden. I immediately grabbed a powerful torch and head outside. Unfortunately the bird not only stopped calling, it must have flown off. I searched a few of the trees where I thought that the sound had been coming from but to no avail. Never mind, it was good to hear it and know that this species is still around.
It was a special visitor because we are so infrequently aware of this species of owl in our garden or in our little patch of mallee scrub about 80km east of Adelaide, South Australia. We actually hear it only a few times a year – at best. I guess we should switch off the television more often. Or perhaps I should head off with a torch and walk the “estate” more often – all five acres of it!
Because the bird we heard last night did not hang around very long, there was no opportunity to grab the camera for a photo. The photo above – possibly the same bird – was taken in one of our trees a year or so ago. On that occasion the bird obligingly posed for two photos.
Update October 13th: we heard it again this evening. This time it was closer to the house and we had a good view of it – twice in a few days is special.
Other nocturnal birds
Below is a list of nocturnal birds I have recorded on our property. Click on each to go to articles and photos of them.
After nearly three weeks visiting family in Sydney and playing with our delightful grandchildren, we are on our way home again. We have reached Narrandera in the Riverina region of New South Wales. This is one of our regular stops on our way to and from Sydney.
We treated ourselves to a wonderful meal for dinner at the Hing Wah Chinese Restaurant in the main street. The food was delicious and the service excellent. I highly recommend this eatery. On our way back to our cabin in the caravan park we nearly hit an owl as it crossed the road in front of our car.
I am not sure what species it was but from its colour – mostly brown – and size it was possibly a Tawny Frogmouth or a Boobook Owl. It certainly did not have the lighter colours of a Barn Owl, and it was too big to be an Owlet Nightjar. It made a good ending to a rather poor birding journey today. Between Sydney and here we saw very few birds, except for a half hour stop for afternoon tea at the Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens.
UPDATE: at 5:30am the next morning I heard the call of a Southern Boobook Owl just outside our cabin in the caravan park where we were staying for the night. It was good to have my initial identification confirmed.
Last night we were watching television with the lounge door open; it was a pleasant summer’s night. During a particularly quiet segment of the show we were watching we suddenly heard the churring call of our “resident” Australian Owlet-nightjar.
“He’s still around,’ we both cried out.
Now I need to clarify a few points here:
- I use the word “our” loosely. It is a wild bird in the natural environment so we do not own it.
- I am not sure if this particular bird is actually a resident on our 5 acre property. We do hear it often enough to think that it is here most days, but have no proof of that.
- I have no idea if it is a male or female – to call it “he” is more of a generic term.
Over recent months we have not heard this bird calling many times at all, so it was delightful to hear the call last night. I like to think that it is quite contented living around here most of the time.
A few years ago one bird – perhaps the same one – took up occupation of a significant hollow in one of our mallee trees in our back yard. Amusingly, during the cool winter months it would emerge from the hollow every morning around 11am and sun itself in the opening of the hollow, call a few times and then retreat to sleep until evening. Sometimes we would even hear it calling again as it went out feeding during the night., being mostly a nocturnal species. It was on one of those occasions that I was able to sneak up closer for a photo (shown above).
Over the last two summers the hollow has come under the “ownership” of a pair of Mallee Ringneck parrots who have successfully added to their family each time. Lately they have been busy feeding two very persistent young ones which have recently fledged.
- Australian Owlet-nightjar
- Australian Owlet-nightjar
- Australian Owlet-nightjar does exist
- Australian Owlet-nightjar in our garden
- A special call in the night
I meant to write about this last night but somehow became distracted by a movie. We are currently staying with our daughter in Clare in the mid-north of South Australia. Last night she showed us an interesting movie, one we hadn’t seen before, and the evening went without an update here.
We arrived here two evenings ago after appointments in Mt Barker on the way. Our daughter had dinner ready for us when we arrived, so I left the unpacking of the car until later. As I braved the frosty air I noticed the moon rising over the nearby hills; one of those crisp, clear winter evenings so common in the Clare Valley – except that it is now early spring. Oh well.
As I unloaded the car a Willie Wagtail called from a nearby garden, a common enough sound on moonlit nights. A few minutes later the Willie Wagtail’s call was accompanied by the distinctive “boo-book” call of the Southern Boobook Owl. It was probably calling from one of the larger eucalyptus trees in a nearby reserve.
It was too cold – and I was too tired – to track it down to get a photo, so I’ve used one taken some time ago in our own garden.
Over the last week or so I have been sharing photos of birds taken during a recent family visit to the Australian Reptile Park near Gosford north of Sydney.
This series continues today with the photo above of two Southern Boobook owls roosting in their aviary. Boobooks are widely spread in Australia and are a well-known species because of their “boo-book” call ringing through the bushland and even in suburban gardens.
We recently had one calling near our home in Murray Bridge, South Australia. You can read about that here.