We have been fortunate to have another Powerful Owl couple pointed out to us.
Once again on the Georges River, about 4.5 kms from the first site.
This couple seem to have young so we will wait patiently and see what eventuates.
Excellent stuff Antonia. Looks like mum is roosting outside the hollow. I'd expect chicks to be large now, probably four or five weeks old. Mine are about seven weeks now, but for some interesting reason my owls' hollow is so big that it will fit the one (poss. two) owlets (need to confirm numbers yet), mum and dad both with prey all at once. It is good in a way, as the chicks are not forced to fledge too early, as is the case with a lot of hollows that are too small to even hold the owlets until the right time to get out. They can be forced out too early and can fall and be prey to foxes, cats etc.
A beautiful series of shots Antonia. Can't wait to see photos of all the fuzzy little powerful owls that should be emerging soon.
Glad yours are going well Akos!
Thank you, Akos and Holly.
From our very short observations, the parents spend the day outside the nest and at dusk the mother(?)
enters the nest.
More strangely, this nest also is at the top of a gully surrounded on three side by homes and adjoins
a park with play equipment. Makes you wonder how many more are in inaccessible areas.
Mind you, ringtailed possums abound in this area.
Cheers and thanks,
Antonia, I think I know this spot. Chris Lloyd, who is a mate of mine, told me about it with regards to the park and play equipment. Should be easy to observe.
Incidentally, my chick came fully out of the hollow for half an hour at dusk yesterday. Dave already knows.... Got some video too so it's rather special an event. I do think, however, that there's only the one chick.
It seems it's too easy to access! Last night there was almost a carnival atmosphere.
We went home feeling quite discouraged.
Looking forward to seeing the video of your new arrival's debut.
I have posted a couple of new photos, (from the recent location) of the mother(?) taking a Ringtailed possum to the chicks and
disappearing into the nest.
I am in Bass Hill, western Sydney this week and I note close to the Georges River, would appreciate a PM with location if at all possible
While they're most likely used to people, they should theoretically still be quite sensitive at the laying and incubation stage. The carnival atmosphere you describe would sound worrying to me. I certainly don't share my location with any other photographer. The only people that know are the ones in charge of the PO Project. Best kept that way.
We have another pair near Parramatta that failed to nest last year what we think was due to excessive pressure from photographers and owl watchers at the courtship stage... They seemed OK, but then failed. Go figure! I'll put a link to a short youtube clip in the video section shortly....
Absolutely beautiful. Thankyou so much for sharing these wonderful images - truly magnificent
Hi Pacman, Akos, and RubyE,
Thank you for your comments and feedback .... I really appreciate it.
We have decided to back off from photographing the new couple for now as we feel that they might become spooked from too much attention.
Perhaps, after some time has passed, we will pop by and have another look.
Regardless of location, it's saddening that some seem to be lacking in the sense & sensibility department. Thanks for the update & will keep everything crossed that basic common sense kicks in sooner rather than later for the Carnival goers & that they leave this majestic couple in peace.
I hope they can raise their chicks successfully. I've never seen this bird myself and really enjoy these pics, they are fabulous.
Agreed Karen. Thanks for posting these pics and stories.
Thanks RubyE, Karen and ScottTas.
We have gone back to watching the solitary male at the first site.
On Friday he was holding another Ringtail, however on Sunday he had a largeish Brushtail.
This morning (Monday) he had nothing but nor was there any sign underneath of any leftovers.
It makes you wonder how much they can consume(!)
Now that they're feeding chicks it should be generally safe to photograph. Although, observing their behaviour for clues of stress or being disturbed is still advisable and back off if they are not behaving well enough, as in "as expected".
They're certainly capable of taking a possum a day between a mated pair and polish it off.
Mine had a Common Ringtail Possum on Saturday at dusk and a juvenile Common Brushtail Possum last night. Though some nights I've failed to see any prey, which means they may still catch one at night or at dawn the following day. Not all is lost.
We went to the second site last night and thankfully there was only one other person there.
Just after dark we could hear the young ones twittering quite loudly and the mother brought a ringtail to the nest and disappeared inside it.
Perhaps in a week or so there might be some sightings of the young?
Last night one of the chicks came completely out of the nest and flapped about for a while.
Neither of the parents had anything to give them but the mother caught several insects and fed them to the chicks
always favouring the one that had not fully emerged.
About one hour after dark the mother returned with a tiny brushtail, no bigger than say a guinea pig, and sat on a nearby tree for
40 minutes. We don’t know if this was to draw the more reclusive one out or to encourage the one that was out to fly to her (or
some other reason.)
Finally she flew down and fed mainly the reclusive one, giving it about nine pieces for every one she gave the one fully out.
A couple more that didn't upload correctly.
Oh, I would be feeling so privileged to see this happening. Thank you so much for the pics, they are fantastic.
I'm with Ruby on this one Where would you draw the line though? And what does "lacking sense & sensibility" mean? There seems to be the idea, some can stay, but others can't? Same rules should apply for everbody. Nobody should be there in my view.
I have Powerful Owls and Barking Owls in the bush behind me. I'm happy to know they are there, I don't go looking for them, I don't tell anyone about the location, I simply want them to live and breed in peace.
that's my opinion.
These behavioural shots are sensational Antonia! Enjoying seeing this little family thrive & grow, looking forward to more down the track .
Just to clarify, I pictured a "carnival atmosphere" as exactly that, a day at the annual show, noisy, bustling people pushing & shoving. People there oggling the owls with only their own agenda, whether a photo op or a look, no concern for the disruption to the owls whatsoever. Perhaps I should have just said, I wish all the inconsiderate d****heads, and dare I say "Twitchers", would all bugger off soon .
By lack of sense, I meant this to mean not thinking or having any understanding whatsoever of their (a persons) impact. By lack of sensibility, I guess the standard dictionary definition of "not having any mental or emotional responsiveness to others" i.e. not caring past their own needs, sums up what I meant there.
Without knowing the informed details behind a pictures capture and the practices put in place to take them - i.e. knowledge, education, external information or advice obtained, distance, concealment, purpose, use of data etc etc - I think it's unfair & inaccurate to make an overall judgement that no-one should be present. To me, in these shots in particular, these family of birds looks oblivious to human presence. If they were stressed or uncomfortable, they would not be behaving so naturally and would show their distress physically & verbally for a start. I don't read anything in Antonia's posts, this or past ones, that even hints that she & her husband have ever had anything but the birds' welfare as their priorty at all times?
I agree with you Ruby.
In that instance Araminta should leave her wrens and every other bird in the garden alone, as the principle should be the same for all species and that particular comment seems too hypocritical to me.
Thanks for the comments Karen, RubyE, Araminta and Akos.
Just to be clear, our primary concern is the wellbeing of the birds...if we thought that in any way they were disturbed by us we would immediately pack up and go home.
Since that original night, few people have turned up and sometimes we are completely alone.
Furthermore, Chris Lloyd who is running the Powerful Owl project is supportive and encouraging to us.
In fact, he has asked permission (and received it) to use our photos in his presentations.
I am sure he would soon put us in our place if he felt that we were, in anyway, causing discomfort to the owls.
Below are some photos from the 1st September showing the first chick popping up its head.
We have just returned this morning (13th September) from photographing the first chick spending its first night out of the nest
next to its mum.
I will put them up a little later if time permits.
I agree with you Ruby.In that instance Araminta should leave her wrens and every other bird in the garden alone, as the principle should be the same for all species and that particular comment seems too hypocritical to me.
Thanks Akos for sharing your opinion with me. In principle I agree with you, but there is just a slight difference between me taking photos of wrens and any other birds in my garden. You see, I live in the house in the middle of that garden, I come and go and walk around. The birds know me. The main difference though is, I don’t have countless people with cameras turn up turn it into a Carnival.
I do appreciate your comment .
The urban landscape is fraught with all sort of conflicting interests and concerns which then translates to the birds that live with us too. This is a debate that has come up a few times on BIBY before and I think there is a line that we should avoid crossing, but that line would vary from bird to bird...
Birds that live in the urban landscape give us a wonderful opportunity to connect and care about nature - that is a very good thing! People are already far too disconnected with what happens around them and the environment in general. However we have a responsibility to look after those birds that live with us as well - to protect the habitat they use, provide more whereever we can and to minimise risk of harm. But who is 'we?'
With the Powerful Owl Project BIBY - through Dave Bain (who runs the project) is very careful about not disclosing locations of Powerful Owls. We are dealing with a threatened species at their breeding sites - so every caution should and is taken by us to protect those birds as much as we can. Our volunteers are trained about how to approach the birds (moreso distance to keep away) and locations are not broadcast so we can avoid sites becoming a spectacle. Our volunteers come on board because they are passionate about their owls, they want to protect them - they are also integral - without volunteers we couldn't learn half of what we know about this species in urban areas!
I totally understand the attraction of wanting to see a Powerful Owl - they are pretty awesome! Can we police people's behaviour? I don't think we can - all we can do is educate.
I want people to appreciate birds, if we don't appreciate them, then we don't care what happens to them. In the urban landscape birds and people are going to interact - we (thats BIBY, BirdLife, councils etc) need to educate people to do that respectfully. Reminds me that maybe my ethical birding guide that I use for schools should maybe go out in the next newsletter :)
Very wise words indeed, Holly.
Thanks also for your correction regarding Dave Bain.
The new chick spent its first night out of the nest last night....
This morning we found the new chick by its mother(?) fairly high up a tree about 30 metres south of the fig they normally use.
The young one was looking about in wonder at all the new sights and sounds... Garbage trucks, cars, people walking their dogs and so on.
A smallish magpie swooped on the two owls around 50-60 times... the mother seemed unpeturbed while the chick showed some signs of concern.
A couple of noisy miners also put on the usual ruckus but with less effect.
Antonia, I know Chris very well and I know you have their welfare in your interest first and foremost.
It is not my usual practice to address comments to websites, indeed I rarely even read them, however the debate on the Georges River POWLs needs a quick reality check. I have been watching the pair for a couple of years and passed the data on to Dave Bain (who is definitely the project leader not me!) as a volunteer. This pair have used a location which is extremely public and at least 10 houses are able to watch the action from their living rooms. During the day and evening there can be up to a dozen children and their parents within a metre of the hollow. Needless to say that the residents I have spoken to (they tend to ask what you are up to when dig around owl shit) have seen the owls for some years and for many it is a regular event. Their presence this year became known after a bush regeneration team spent a week directly under their roost tree.
The pair in question share the species contempt for most other organisms and I have often been unknowingly within a metre of one of the adults and only alerted to its presence by a rapid bleaching of my shirt or the deposit of some vicera at my feet. From what I can see they have cohabitated with the residents for the last two decades. I grew up in their territory in the 1950-70s and no one saw POWLs up close and personal. Indeed the tree this pair are in is directly opposite my uncle's old house and it was a shadow of what it is today and certainly had no hollows. Most of the area was deforested in the previous century and half and it is only in the last half century that it has become heavily vegetated again - perhaps more than prior to 1788.
Having said all that I fundamentally agree with the comments of Holly and others about revealing breeding locations generally and those of scarce species in particular. The pairs I watch in the Georges just happen to have knowingly picked areas where they are going to have an audience. A sobering read is the article on the only reported case of infanticide in Melbourne in POWLs. This appeared to have been endgendered by the decision of a local council to build a boardwalk in the immediate vicinity bringing substantail disturbance during the incubation and brooding periods.
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