Powerful Owl

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Powerful Owl
From: "Reg Clark" <>
Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2001 00:00:47 +1000
Hello all.

Ever since I first saw  Powerful Owls in a sandstone gully near my home in
suburban Sydney about ten years ago I have tried to keep track of their
comings and goings and have come to the conclusion that whilst they probably
rely on the Flying Fox colony at the nearby suburb of Gordon for their main
food source, that they use my gully for a periodic change of diet. Before
the "hazard reduction" burn about five years ago they mainly dined  upon
Ringtail Possums, Antechinus,small Brushtail Possums and  the odd
Phascogale.The burn was very successful in eliminating the hazardous
leaf-litter and under-story,  together with most of these animals and also
the food sources for those the fire missed. The Coachwood Trees,which
predominate in the gully survived and continued to be used by the owls for
daylight roosts.but there was a noticeable change in diet  from mainly
marsupials to birds.

I started to find feathers here and there and from their regurgitated
pellets found indications of a change to Rainbow Lorikeets, Brown
Cuckoodoves.Whiteheaded Pigeons, Pied Currawongs and a Superb Lyrebird.
However, the gradual regeneration of the bush has seen the numbers of
Ringtail Possums increase, of recent years which is good news for some .
Not having checked up on them for some weeks (it seems to get rougher every
time I go down) I searched their usual roosts last Thursday, could not find
any sign of them at first, then found the familiar spatter of creamy
coloured droppings beneath a densely -leaved Coachwood . I could not see the
bird but leaf movement told me something was there.This was confirmed as
being indeed a Powerful Owl when the bird defecated prior to taking
flight.......point to remember , Never be immediately beneath a large bird
It flew to an exposed branch about  twenty metres away clutching a dead
Ringtail in its talons. As it landed it was joined by another Owl which
landed in a rather clumsy fashion close beside it. The new one was much
paler on back and wings and had the almost off-white front of a young bird.
This close contact seemed to aggravate the first Owl (which was a very
large, very dark brown bird) and it mantled over its' prey, making a most
impressive picture . In the hissing and hassling that followed the body of
the Possum became dislodged
and fell to the ground. My first impulse was to retrieve the possum and
place the corpse in a nearby tree but looking up at two pairs of Powerful
Owl eyes with that fierce , penetrating glare about twelve metres above me
convinced me that one should not interfere with Nature, so I quietly
withdrew to the next pool to wash up .

St Ives, New South Wales

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