Here’s one for the lovers of owls – which, I imagine, includes almost everybody. This is the commonest and most widespread owl in Australia, and its plaintive ‘boobook’ or ‘morepork’ call is a familiar sound in a huge range of habitats from tropical rainforest, through leafy suburbs and city parks to almost treeless regions of the dry interior. Despite both its abundance and lots of effort on my part, it has eluded my camera since, as a graduate student, I took some slide photos of one through a window of the Zoology Department of Sydney University in the mid 1970s.
This weekend just past was the occasion of the AGM of Birds Australia North Queensland and it was held at a large cattle station (property) called Trafalgar about 50km southwest of Charters Towers outside Townsville. We went spotlighting in the station truck, ideally equipped for birding safari-style with two bench seats placed longitudinally back-to-back on the rear, on a clear Sunday night and after finding a rather flighty barn owl, we encountered a Boobook in a tree beside the road that was much more cooperative. Having photographed it from the truck, I eventually got down and set up the tripod much closer to the the owl. It stayed put, despite my flash and 3 spotlights and when we finally left, it was still there. The portrait in the first photo is in fact cropped from a photo that includes the whole bird, so you can appreciate that the conditions for photography were excellent.
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Southern Boobook Audio from xeno-canto.org by Pakihi Okarito
But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: (Isa 34:11a)