Eastern Grass Owl ?

To: <>, "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Eastern Grass Owl ?
From: "Bill Jolly" <>
Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2001 13:18:28 +1000
Hello Anthony

Many thanks for your comments.

I got quite a few replies, but I've been holding off from reporting back to
birding-aus until I had something positive to say.

The trouble was, that I was assuming Black-fronted Dotterel because I just
couldn't place the call as anything else. But I knew it wasn't exactly and
indisputably right, and it really did seem to come directly from the larger
bird. However I just couldn't connect that bird with the call anywhere in my
birding experience.

Various suggestions came in, all much appreciated and all quite plausible,
but none of them really fitted as a possibility. Until you mentioned Grass
There are Grass Owls in the Lockyer - rarely seen, though a friend of mine
had one on his property just a few months back. Our immediate environment
could well be conducive - some agriculture, lucerne and the like, lots of
lightly wooded grassland, and a substantial creek with fairly good riparian
vegetation immediately adjacent to the verandah from which the bird(s) were
seen and heard.

I played the BOC tape of the Grass Owl (34 secs by David Stewart) and it
struck me as being spot on. Then I played it to Eileen, a totally blind
'tasting', just the chirping segment - I hadn't even mentioned your email.
She reacted immediately with "That's the bird we've been hearing!"

So, last night we sat and waited for the bird to re-appear. We didn't see
it, but we did hear the chirping again overhead, followed a little later as
it moved west from us by a screech and a more distant  'clocking'. This was
around 9pm, and repeated on and off over the next 30 minutes. Everything we
heard matched the tapes.

I am comfortable now to exclude Black-fronted Dotterel from the performance.
As I indicated in my original note about this mysterious visitor, I was
clutching at straws when I half-heartedly called dotterel, because I knew I
didn't know. We had dotterels here when the creek was very low, before the
rains a couple of months ago, but the creek is well up and we haven't had
them on the list for a couple of months now.

I won't add Eastern Grass Owl to the Abberton list on this little evidence,
but we'll follow up carefully and report back.

I was planning to reply individually to everyone who was kind enough to
share their ideas, but now I'm writing this, please would everyone who
emailed me on this please accept my appreciative thanks for taking the
Here is just one of the many strengths of birding-aus.

Bill Jolly

Lockyer Valley, Queensland.

Visit our website at

Ph: (+61) 7 4697 6111  Fax: (+61) 7 4697 6056

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Monday, 2 April 2001 11:17 AM
Subject: Night calling bird


Did you get any replies??

Doesn't a Grass Owl make a pit-pit-pit call similar to a dotterel?

Is there suitable habitat for them where you are?


 -----Original Message-----
From: Bill Jolly [SMTP:
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2001 9:53 AM
To: Birding Aus
Subject: Night calling bird

Has anyone got any ideas they'd like to share with me about a mystery bird
here last night?

Mid-evening, around 8.30pm, sitting on the verandah. A gentle light shining
over the creek surface, not enough to disturb a few ducks and moorhens that
spell there at night, but sufficient to give us a bit of a look at anything
that flies past.

While we enjoyed our coffee, a Barn Owl fluttered by, some Plumed Whistling
Ducks went overhead, not a lot was happening - it was quite breezy, not a
lot of insects about.

Then I heard what I would have sworn was a Black-fronted Dotterel. They bred
here this year, we're very familiar with their calls. It's a small bird to
get a look at at night, but I've heard it several times at night recently
and always considered it to be a Black-fronted Dotterel out late.

Next, a fair-sized bird appeared quite high over the creek, just a quick
glimpse - made harder by being lit from below. Not a Barn Owl, could have
been a Tawny Frogmouth, have to call it a ufo. But, the 'dotterel' call
started up and seemed to be emanating from this new bird!

Four visiting birders from Finland immediately asked me "What's that?"  I
think I could have mumbled something about a Frogmouth being harassed by a
Black-fronted Dotterel - but the truth is I hadn't got a clue!

But, I told them at breakfast this-morning that we would probably sort this
out during the course of the day by referring it to our expert panel on

So, has anyone out there got any ideas or comments please aside from my
feeble 'two bird theory'?

Bill Jolly

Lockyer Valley, Queensland.

Visit our website at

Ph: (+61) 7 4697 6111  Fax: (+61) 7 4697 6056

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Eastern Grass Owl ?, Bill Jolly <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU