Sooty Owls

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Sooty Owls
From: "Trevor Ford" <>
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2003 00:06:40 +1000

Although my main function seems to be keeper and notifier of all things to
do with Bribie's Laughing Gull, I must put on another hat for a moment and
share something that happened yesterday evening.  A friend has been visiting
recently from the UK - Bill Jolly has already made a posting describing the
raptors that we saw during a morning with him at Abberton, as well as the
large flock of Plum-headed Finches.  After leaving Abberton we spent a few
days exploring the south-western corner of south-east Queensland, seeing
many of the special birds on offer.  Yesterday, on the way home, we decided
to visit a patch of rainforest near Brisbane in the hope that we might see a
Sooty Owl.  The area certainly holds Sooty Owls but, as with most sites for
this species, to encounter one you need a fair amount of good luck.

We emerged from our vehicle just after dark, having timed our arrival to
perfection and, after only about 15 minutes of spotlighting, we were stopped
in our tracks by the sound of nearby chirruping trills of what was
presumably a female Sooty Owl.  In hindsight, this may well have been a call
soliciting food from the nest site (or prospective nest site).  Try as we
might we could not see a thing.  Then came a typical tyto screech from just
behind us.  We hurried back in the direction of the call to find a Sooty
Owl, presumably a male, perched on an exposed branch at eye-level less than
20 metres away.  He had caught some kind of rodent and continued to screech
whilst we watched, totally mesmerised.  If that wasn't spectacle enough, we
were then treated to the female flying towards the male, flapping alongside
his perch and being given the prey.  She flew off with her gift and the male
screeched on.  After a few minutes the male retreated deeper into the
forest, giving the famous 'bomb' whistle, and then carried on screeching.
It now began to rain and things quietened, and as we made our way back to
the car in afterglow, we reflected that we'd been privy to something very
special.  Actually, something absolutely fantastic, exhilarating and

I had to concentrate very hard in order to drive us home safely.

Cheers - Trevor.

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