Tag Archives: Powerful Owl

“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…

The Robins and the Owl

There is a walk along the inlet from Captain Stevenson’s Lookout around the coast to Bastion Point. It runs along the edge of the camp grounds through tall banksia trees and coastal scrub and into a Pittosporum forest. The track leads on to the new Bastion Point boat ramp facility and the nearby swimming beaches now protected by the new sea wall. I met a couple who were going for stroll along the path who said that a large Caspian tern was fishing with the Silver Gulls in the shallows at the beach. Not having photographed a Caspian Tern before I headed down to find and hopefully photograph the tern. While walking through one of the deeper darker patches of Pittosporum Forest I came across a family of Rose Robins in quite a fluster. Several pink chested males and a number of females and juveniles seemed to flying back and forth across the path and into various low trees and bushes. I stopped to watch for a while and take a few photographs of these elusive tiny birds and noticed a pile of feathers at my feet. It took me a few moments to figure out what they were from – a juvenile Kookaburra. I looked straight up and into the eyes of a large Powerful Owl. This type of Owl prefers a daytime roost in trees located in cool, dark forest gullies. If it makes a kill during the night it hangs onto the kill all day and feeds at the start of the following night. Hanging from the Owl’s talons was the previous night’s kill.

Rose Robin, Pittosporum Walk, Mallacoota

Rose Robin, Pittosporum Walk, Mallacoota

Rose Robin, Pittosporum Walk, Mallacoota

Rose Robin, Pittosporum Walk, Mallacoota

Powerful Owl, Pittosporum Walk, Mallacoota

Powerful Owl, Pittosporum Walk, Mallacoota

After taking a few shots of the Owl I walked down to the beach and watched the Caspian Tern dive into the water and catch a good sized bait fish and fly off across the inlet. That left me with the hunting Silver Gulls to photograph. It was a nice change to watch them hunting for fish rather than begging for potato fries and digging through rubbish.

Silver Gull, Bastion Point, Mallacoota

Silver Gull, Bastion Point, Mallacoota

Silver Gull, Bastion Point, Mallacoota

looking for bait fish in the shallows

Silver Gull, Bastion Point, Mallacoota

whoops, cut that a bit fine

Silver Gull, Bastion Point, Mallacoota

shaking off the water…

Silver Gull, Bastion Point, Mallacoota

finally scored a fish…

I found another Antechinus in the forest but I am not sure what sort it is, I think a Brown Antechinus but I will have to research it…going by the girth I am guessing that this is a pregnant female. By this time of year the males have mostly died off after a vigorous mating season.

Antechinus, Pittosporum Walk, Mallacoota

Antechinus, Pittosporum Walk, Mallacoota

Dandenong Ranges National Park – Welch Track: The Powerful Owl

Another part of the Dandenong Ranges that I have explored briefly is a section near one of the Puffing Billy Steam Train Stations – Welch Track. It is a rather steep section of the Park with a good track leading down to a rainforest gully and then merging onto other tracks. I had seen a report of a few Large Billed Scrubwrens in the area and while I looked for them I found a few other interesting birds along the way.

Crimson Rosella

Crimson Rosella

Male Superb Fairy Wren

Male Superb Fairy Wren

Red Browed Treecreeper

Red Browed Treecreeper – usually difficult to see as they stick to the higher canopies of very tall trees

Juvenile Powerful Owl

Juvenile Powerful Owl – still with fledgling white chest feathers, and already with extremely large and lethal talons. The Powerful Owl is able to take much larger and heavier prey – a favourite being the brush tailed possum.

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Even as a young Owl in daylight it had much better senses than I did – it knew when other people were coming down the track well before I did.

Welch Track Foliage and fallen tree

Welch Track Foliage and fallen tree