Tag Archives: Melbourne Botanic Gardens

“My” Powerful Owl

Our visit to the Botanical Gardens on the weekend was to search for the reported Powerful Owl. We found it at the southern end of the Fern Gully walk amongst the tall pines and conifers of the New Zealand section – high up and with a small window of cleared space that we could just photograph through without too many branches and twigs in the way. It was interesting to watch as various birders and garden visitors took turns owning the owl for the period of time they stood below and watched it. Once the birders who found it, before we entered the scene, left (very easy to find a rare bird when you see people with binocs looking up into a tree with interest), we were left there watching and taking photographs. Walkers-by were interested in what we were up to and asked…suddenly “our” bird was on display and we become the tour guides – educating visitors about the large Powerful Owl. While watching with my binocs and taking photos I spouted off my facts about the bird and then was surprised when I turned around and found  a large bunch of people listening and watching…seems I am a natural show off – I thoroughly enjoyed it…I only had a few good facts:

  1. largest nocturnal bird in Australia,
  2. can be quite urbanised if the right food and daytime roosts are around,
  3. eats other birds, large brush tailed and ring tailed possums and sugar gliders,
  4. nests in large old growth tree hollows which are scare and usually only located in untouched forests hence the issue with their rareness and growing endangered status in many areas of South Eastern Australia
  5. mates for life (sometime over 30 years)
  6. generally sedentary (territorial) – i.e. does not migrate like many species.
  7. roosts on a branch in deep shade during the day, often seen still clutching the previous night’s catch.
  8. decapitates its catch and then roosts for the day. Animal and bird heads, old bones and white bird poo splashes on the ground and on foliage below a tree is a good indicator of a regular roost spot.
  9. Hunts throughout the trees with excellent night vision and swoops on prey using its massive talons to catch prey.
  10. Young powerful owls are large and have quite a bit of white downy feathering

 

Powerful Owl, Melbourne Botanic Gardens

Powerful Owl, Melbourne Botanic Gardens

Powerful Owl, Melbourne Botanic Gardens

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Powerful Owl, Melbourne Botanic Gardens

The owl’s attention was diverted when a small dog moved along the path towards us.

Powerful Owl, Melbourne Botanic Gardens

Back to sleep…

Bell Ringers of the Royal Gardens

On the weekend a mate and I headed to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne. A Powerful Owl had been reported and we were keen to find it. While we wandered about we also walked through the Bell Miner Colony. The Bell Miner also called a Bellbird is a small honeyeater that lives in large social groups. They are very aggressive to other birds and will defend their food source which is “bell lerp”, a sugary secretion of a small insect that feeds on gum leaves. The bird has a very distinctive call, a bell chime or ping. The ping is a territorial call and extremely loud when ones chimes next to your ear. The red marking of the eye indicates a mature adult. The gardens are one of the few locations that the species can be easily seen. They are small, olive green and usually stay high in the trees. The birds at Botanic Gardens seem to be used to people and come down quite low and with a bit of time can be photographed (and recorded).

Play to hear the colony sound from the Gardens.

Bell Miner, Melbourne Botanic Gardens

Bell Miner, Melbourne Botanic Gardens

Bell Miner, Melbourne Botanic Gardens

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Bell Miner, Melbourne Botanic Gardens

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Bell Miner, Melbourne Botanic Gardens

IV

Bell Miner, Melbourne Botanic Gardens

“ping”

Juvenile Bell Miner, Melbourne Botanic Gardens

Juvenile Bell Miner