Masked Owl at Gluepot

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Masked Owl at Gluepot
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001 23:22:31 +0800
Peter Waanders mentioned that I had seen a Masked Owl at Gluepot Station and asked if I could post further details. I was on a tour with Emu Tours (Richard Jordan's final advertised tour).

We were camped at Sittella Camp for three nights. On the second morning before breakfast I walked west of the camp with Eric Broadfoot from Sydney hoping to get better looks at Black-eared Miners that we had seen briefly the previous morning. We wandered around seeing nothing much special, when I heard some Grey Butcherbirds making a racket and I thought possibly some miners.

As I approached the butcherbirds a large white bird took off. Initial impressions were of a Nankeen Night Heron, larger than a Little Corella or possibly a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. When I got my binoculars on the bird in flight I saw it was an owl. The butcherbirds continued to harrass the owl so we were able to relocate it on four more occasions. I got good enough looks to know that it was a Masked Owl. This is the first that I have found, although I have been shown three others.

Breakfast time was fast approaching so I left the owl alone and we returned to camp. I checked the field guides and became more certain that I had seen a very light morph Masked Owl, but none showed it distributed anywhere near except for Morcambe. The illustration in Pizzey & Knight was the closest.

During breakfast it was decided that we should try to relocate the bird as we realised that it was the first record for Gluepot, and it would be the first sighting for most on the tour. However I hadn't taken a GPS reading of the location, and I had followed the wrong compass bearing out to the track to return to camp. However, I had made a mark on the track. So we returned to the spot and as a group we retraced our earlier footprints in the Gluepot dust. It made it obvious how badly the route was that I had used to walk back!! The mark on the track was 900 metres from camp. We managed to find the site where I had last seen it and this was only 350 metres from camp. I didn't hold much hope of relocating it as we had seen the butcherbirds and they were no longer harassing the owl. So the 19 people spread out and within a few minutes the shout went out and I turned around to see the bird float into a tall mallee. We had two spotting scopes so we set these up and observed the owl from about 40 metres for about 30 minutes.

Apart from the size (estimated both times at 45cm), the most obvious feature are the very large strong feet and feathered legs. Through the scope the markings on the feathers are very delicate with small white diamonds on the back and smaller black spots on the head and side of the neck.

This is a truly stunning bird and certainly the bird of the trip and a sighting to remember.

The other highlights of Gluepot were Chestnut-crowned Babbler (very common), Chestnut Quail-thrush (common), White-fronted Honeyeater (common), White-browed Treecreeper (fairly common near casuarina), Black-eared Cuckoo (two), Striated Grasswren (1), Red-lored Whistler (quick look), Shy Heathwren (2), Peregrine Falcon (1), Striped Honeyeater (3), etc. The downside were the number of goats and a few rabbits.
Frank O'Connor      Birding WA
8C Hardy Road                      Email : 
Nedlands  WA  6009                                ICQ : 14655047
Phone : +61 8 9386 5694

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>
  • sa news, Peter Waanders
    • Masked Owl at Gluepot, Frank O'Connor <=

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