Saturday, 3 December 2011

Owling on Plains Road

As well as a horde of Brown Falcons, my friend Garry has reported recently seeing up to 4 Eastern Barn Owls on Plains Rd, Hoskinstown.

I am not much of a night-person these days but recalled the owls around my ancestral home in Essex used to hunt at dusk: thus I took myself down to the plain at 8:15 on Tuesday.  Unfortunately this coincided with the commencement of a monsoon-like storm so:
  • I couldn't see far beyond the car; and
  • any sensible owl was going to be huddled somewhere sheltered.
The end result of that trip was using some petrol and seeing no owls.

Wednesday had even worse weather so I didn't bother trying.  On Thursday at about 8:30 the rain had stopped and I went off again.  The first thing was to discover that the Molonglo River had a good flow and was about 15cm deep across the road.  Easily traversed in the Subaru but I did feel nervous about whether the level was rising or falling so just did one patrol and off home having seen no owls.  (Garry went out about an hour later and was able to find a bird and his son got a photograph.)

So on Friday, just on dusk I headed yet again for the Plain aiming to meet Garry at the start of Plains R
We piled into Garry's vehicle and set off.  After about 1 kilometre an owl flew from one of the hawthorns and I was able to follow its flight across the paddocks with the spotlight.  Switching back to the tree it had flown from we thought there was another owl still sitting there.
No such luck, 'only' a rather young-looking Brown Falcon: probably wondering why the sun had risen so early.

At about 2.5km we turned and patrolled back, avoiding the other punters who were rude enough to use the road.    Then we got lucky and an owl posed nicely for me to take some photos.

Of course, as soon as Garry got out of the truck to get his share of the action, the bird ghosted away and despite a bit more searching was not seen again.

So I headed for home (after the usual time my head has hit the pillow)
driving very carefully to avoid the wildlife.  I saw a fluffy Brush-tailed Possum on Widgiewa Rd but it didn't hang around for a photo.  Then as I crossed the Creek on our property found some larger entities grazing.  Fortunately they kept out of my way.

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