Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sooty Owl Redux - another Bunyip evening

Had been chatting with a couple of young birders - Owen and James who were keen to see their first Sooty Owl as well as some of the other avian delights of Bunyip State Forest so I arranged to meet them there last weekend for an afternoon and evening out in the forest. I have probably mentioned before that Bunyip is my favourite birding spot so I didn't need much of an excuse to get out. First birds heard at Mortimers Picnic Ground were Crested Shrike-tit, Satin Flycatcher and Cicadabird so off to a good start. After checking out a nice female flycatcher we chased down the Cicadabird which gave nice views of the male which was a new bird for Owen and his dad. A Brush Cuckoo gave its weird frenzied call and only unsatisfying flight views on the way through.

Crappy Cicadabird shot

From here we drove across Link Road stopping at a couple of my favourite spots which were largely quiet. A single Lyrebird and a couple of Rufous Fantail were of interest as was a single Fallow Deer disappearing into the brush.

Brown Goshawk

At the beginning of Ash Landing Road was a Brown Goshawk which sat nicely allowing a couple of quick snaps - somewhat surprisingly this a bird I dont record particularly often at Bunyip. We stopped at the first creek which was nice and birdy as usual with a number of Beautiful Firetail a highlight. Walking along the road things were again a little on the quiet side although we added Scared Kingfisher and Large-billed Scrubwren to the day list.

A quick trip into Gembrook for dinner and back out to the helipad to await dusk. Southern Emu-wren were common as usual in the grassy heathland as were Scarlet Robin. I managed to get some photos of a rather bold native rodent while the others went off to check out Dyers Picnic Ground to see the resident Satin bowerbird. Later examination of the photos indicated the rodent was a Swamp Rat which I was happy to get in pixels.

Swamp Rat

Before dusk the inimitable Melbourne Birder Steve Davidson showed up  with client in tow also looking for nightjars and other night birds - this was a birder tick for both James and Owen. It was rather cool and overcast with few flying insects but on dusk we heard a couple of brief nightjar calls then nothing. A Sooty Owl called from the creekline north of the helipad but as usual would not come in to visit.... I have heard this bird a number of times over the years but have never set eyes on it. There was a brief moment of excitement as a Sugar Glider flew in and landed above our heads while an Owlet-nightjar churred away in the gully. 

We gave up on the nightjars (Steve had better luck elsewhere) and wandered up Ash Landing Road which was largely quiet aside from a couple of yapping Sugar Gliders and a couple of brief calls from a distant Sooty that was again not responsive. Looking for Sooty Owls in Bunyip is generally a matter of methodically checking likely areas and so it was on our third stop on Link Road. I heard the bird as soon as I left the car so wandered up the road a little and gave a quick burst of the tape and a lovely Sooty flew straight in. As is often their want it gave a great display with wings raised and would not keep quiet.

Who wants a cuddle?

This was a new bird for the other three and in the end we had walk away views as we left it in peace. We continued along Link Road trying other locations with not muck luck as the wind was now rising. Back at Mortimers were a surprising number of Boobooks making a variety of calls- at least 3 or 4 birds giving some decent views which was a nice way to round out the evening.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic night, looking forward to my next trip! Hopefully to nail those Nightjars :)