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.
A few night ago we were suddenly aware of the familiar call of a Southern Boobook owl quite close to our house. I only took a few moments to locate it in the large tree next to our clothes line. I didn’t bother getting out the camera to get some photos because the last time I saw one in our garden I got the photo shown above. It is quite possibly the same bird.
It has been some time since we heard a Boobook in our garden; usually we have the television going at night and that tends to drown out the night sounds. On this occasion we had both been working on cleaning out the office, so the television was off. Perhaps we should do that more often!
Much to our delight we heard it calling again the following night. It would be lovely to be able to call it a resident bird present nearly every night, instead of just an occasional visitor every few years. It is quite welcome to move in and can have all the mice it can catch while it stays.
I was working late at my computer tonight when I heard a sound outside. I raced out, torch in hand. Sure enough – I heard a Southern Boobook owl calling. I tried to follow the sound but after walking across our five acre block of land it was still no closer.
I expect it was at least a kilometre away because the night was very still and sounds travels a long way on evenings like this. Still, it is a significant recording. On checking my bird database on my computer it is over 22 years since I last recorded this species here at home. That’s exciting.
The Southern Boobook is found over a large part of Australia and is our smallest owl. It is also called a Mopoke because of its call. It feeds on small mammals such as mice, insects, bats and moths. It is almost entirely nocturnal but is sometimes seen out hunting on dull, cloudy days.
As yet I do not have a photo of this species taken in the wild. Instead I have a photo of a Powerful Owl taken through the wire of an aviary at the Adelaide Zoo.
You can read more about this owl on the Birds in Backyards site here.
You can read more about my encounters with owls, frogmouths and nightjars here.