• BridledNailTail (Custom)
    • lab9
Aug 3: Lax fieldcraft

Checking eBird mid-morning, I was shocked to see a full-frontal photo of magnificent Barking Owl taken by Niel Bruce at Enoggera Reservoir!! He had found a roosting bird along the Araucaria Circuit. Being in the middle of my lab retreat, I couldn’t just leave straight away, but eventually decided to head off once the sessions had ended. Duly, just after 4pm, I jumped into the car and drove down the Bruce Highway towards the reservoir, musing on how many times I was driving between Brisbane and Mooloolaba this week! Ged Tranter had been in touch, and he was already at the reservoir with Steve Murray as I passed Caboolture. They could find no sign of the Barking Owl.

Eventually I arrived at the reservoir just after dark (eBird list here), and almost ran down toward where the bird had been seen earlier. I bumped into Ged and Steve, and we searched and listened around the edge of the lake, without hearing or seeing any nocturnal birds. Eventually Ged and Steve had to leave. Their torchlights retreated into the distance, but I soon saw Ged’s camera flashing – he was taking photos of something. I anxiously hovered over my phone waiting for a text message, but there was none. They had seen a Squirrel Glider – nice, but no Barking Owl.

A few Australian Owlet-nightjars had started calling, and I heard a very distant Southern Boobook. Presently I heard something that sounded just like a Powerful Owl, but it was a single hoot and then it stopped and didn’t call again. I wasn’t sure what to do with that, and didn’t record it on my eBird list. By about 7.20pm I was giving up hope. Clearly the Barking Owl wasn’t calling tonight. I walked back through the forest, heading past the area where we searching for Regent Honeyeater only yesterday. Suddenly right in front of me, fairly low down in the trees was a Barking Owl!!!!!!! But I had spooked the bird and it instantly took off and disappeared behind some trees – it was unclear how far it had gone. Search as I might, I just couldn’t find it again. I was delighted but a bit unsatisfied – pleased to have seen it, but frustrated with myself for lax fieldcraft. I should have been moving more carefully through the woodland.

I made my way back toward the discovery centre along the Link Track, and when I got back down onto the track next to the reservoir, I heard a rustling next to the track. A cracking Echidna was snuffling about in the lead litter only a few metres away – the first one I’ve seen in Brisbane!! Tired but happy, I once again pounded the tarmac back to Mooloolaba, arriving back about 11pm.

With one year tick today (Barking Owl), my year list moved up to 293 species. I spent 3 hours 30 minutes birding, walked 2.5 km and drove 204.0 km. My chronological year list is here.