• lab7
Jul 15: All bark and no bite

It was that fatal and perfidious bark, Built in th’ eclipse, and rigg’d with curses dark (John Milton).

Will Hemstrom is a visiting PhD student doing some fieldwork on Monarch butterflies at UQ’s Pinjarra Hills Research Station. He’s also a gun birder, and although he’s only been in Australia a few months, he’s finding some great birds. Not least among these was a calling Barking Owl yesterday afternoon, coincidentally only a few hundred metres from where I was trying for the species along Pinjarra Rd early Friday morning. Will very kindly agreed to show me the spot where he had heard the bird, and being a UQ campus I was able to accompany him there as a staff member.

We arrived at the spot around 4.35, and listened intently. It’s always at these sorts of moments when you realize how many barking dogs there are around the place!! But there were no barking birds, and as dusk fell we tried a spot in the south-west corner of the campus, again without luck. Returning to the original spot, near the junction of Pinjarra Rd and Moggill Rd, we put in one last forlorn listen but again to no avail. After picking up my car from the entrance again, I tried a couple of point count stops along the first part of Pinjarra Rd, but the traffic noise was irritating and I couldn’t hear any Barking Owls. The bird that Will heard would definitely have been audible from the first 100m of Pinjarra Rd (see map below), but might be most fruitful later at night when the traffic noise is a bit lower.

With no year ticks today, my year list remained stubbornly on 289 species. I spent 1 hour 38 minutes birding, walked 0 km (everything was stationary, or driving with Pinjarra hills campus) and drove 75 km. My chronological year list is here.

The Barking Owl was calling from within this area, and would definitely have been audible from the first 100m of Pinjarra Rd after turning in from Moggill Rd. The traffic noise along Moggill Rd is irritating, and the area is probably best checked later at night when the traffic is lighter. The only advantage of being inside the UQ campus (to which there is strictly no public access) is that the traffic noise is shielded by a hillside. It is entirely possible that the Barking Owl doesn’t spend much time in this area, and could be elsewhere in surrounding woodlands for much of the time.