In March 2015 I was alerted by a flock of Blue-faced Honeyeaters and butcherbirds to a Southern Boobook owl hiding out in the frangipani tree in my front yard. To my surprise, when I looked more closely, there were two birds, which I thought to be an adult and a juvenile.
I am a passionate wildlife photographer so grabbing my camera seemed like an instinct. I took a number of photos of the pair perched above the ground. Whilst the adult remained still near the top of the tree, the juvenile moved around within the tree obviously nervous at the continued mobbing by the other birds. After a few minutes I let them be and did not expect to see them again.
To my surprise, almost two months later, I saw them again, still together, and again in a frangipani tree, this time in the back yard. I managed to take a photo of the two together but it was late in the afternoon and the photos were somewhat dark.
Southern Boobooks are often heard at night making their “boo-book” or “mo-poke” call, but you have to be lucky to see them roosting in the daytime.
I saw them several times in October and November by which time I was beginning to wonder if they were a breeding pair as I did not think a juvenile would be with its mother for so long. A query to the Queensland Museum returned the following response:
“The owls usually rest solitarily, but are sometimes seen in pairs or family groups. Resident pairs have traditional roosting sites, which can be near or far from the nest depending on the time of year. Southern Boobooks form monogamous, life-long pairs that live in breeding home- ranges of up to 100 hectares, which are either permanently occupied or (in cold areas) vacated during winter. Young birds are dependent on their parents for 2-4 months after fledging, until their first autumn or winter. The main breeding season is usually September to November but can be as long as July to February.”
The information provided to me was from Stephen Debus’ book, The Owls of Australia, and is a fairly succinct summary of these birds’ behaviour.
I am delighted to have a breeding pair living around the area and choosing to spend some of their time in my garden.
Over the years that I have been living at Ebenezer I have had some spectacular wildlife encounters and it has been a wonderful privilege to watch the behaviour of our native fauna.
There have been small populations of the native Robust Velvet Geckos (Oedura robusta) and also what I believe to be Dtellas (Gehrya dubia) residing in and around my house. Numbers of each vary and they seem to occupy different parts of the house structure. The Robust Velvet Geckos are most commonly seen on internal walls under the house, while the Dtellas occupy the exterior. When they do accidentally meet, it can lead to a territorial dispute and a brief, often savage, fight.
On odd occasions I have been able to photograph these native geckos, but they are usually extremely shy and averse to having their photo taken. At night they often hunt on the screen door, as the light from my small office attracts insects. They strike quickly and rarely miss their prey, unless they mistakenly go after a moth that is actually on the other side of the screen.
I will continue to enjoy the wildlife shows in my home and out in my backyard. Nature has some wonderful stories.
I was fortunate enough to photograph the sequence of a Robust Velvet Gecko trying to capture a huntsman spider. Unfortunately, all the gecko ended up with for his troubles was a spider leg.
Article by Heather Knowles Land for Wildlife member Rosewood, Ipswich