At 11:00 today I saw my first live Barn Owl in the ACT while travelling through the Belconnen Golf Course Estate. As I neared the southern end of Britten Jones Drive seven
or eight Pied Currawongs barrelled across the road in front of me and entered a bushy tree on the edge of the golf course while kicking up a tremendous din. As often when witnessing such avian histrionics, I stopped and walked over to see if there was a raptor
central to the disturbance.
When about 12 metres from the tree, I saw the owl inching along a horizontal branch until it fetched up against the trunk and turned towards its tormentors opening and
closing its bill. Perhaps it was hissing but I couldn’t really tell if it was making any sound at all. Then it turned its head towards me and, for an instant, I was transfixed by the facial disk, confronting me like a wonderfully wild, white valentine.
Concerned that my proximity might have been interfering with the natural course of events, I returned to the car from where I still had a reasonably good overview of the
drama. As I watched, the owl broke cover and flew away to the NE, its floating, wafting flight reminiscent of a big white moth. The noisy currawongs, now numbering about fifteen, strung out in pursuit but soon drew level and surrounded it. However, I didn’t
notice any swooping or other attacking behaviour and, after 45 seconds, the birds were out of sight.