• Bowra6-900
Jun 14: Grass Owl!

Nearing the end of a hectic week at work, and with my wife kindly agreeing to singlehandedly get the kids their dinners etc, I took the chance for a dusk trip to Kedron Brook Wetlands. Grass Owl has been seen there recently by Ged Tranter and Louis Backstrom, and Mal Graham had an owl sp, which was probably a Grass Owl. I simply had to try to cash in on this run of records. For whatever reason, mid-winter and mid-summer are the two peaks in records for this species in Brisbane. I arrived at Kedron Brook at about 5.15, as dusk was setting in, wandered out into the middle of the grassland in the southern portion of the reserve, and waited.

At 5.32 I suddenly saw an owl flying from the SW corner of the reserve and then drop into the grass in front of me, about 75 metres away. Seeing the long wings and dark upperwings I was happy it was a Grass Owl, and I walked along the fire break to get nearer to where it landed, estimating I was about 20 metres away from it. At exactly 5.50, the bird flew up again, and circled in the torchlight right in front of me, affording me a really good look at its long legs with feet projecting behind the tail. As magically as it appeared, after a few seconds it disappeared and flew in the direction of the airport, although I couldn’t see how far it went.

I was extremely pleased with this – first it was a somewhat poignant moment; Grass Owls are so rare in Brisbane that this must surely be a species flirting with extinction in the LGA. Second, it was just a magical moment to have such a close encounter with a beautiful and rare species. Third, connecting with species like Grass Owl is strategically critical for my year list – I can’t afford to miss any of the rare resident species.

There are now only eight regularly occurring species left that I really should be able to see, given enough effort: Black Bittern, Baillon’s Crake, Red Knot, Wandering Tattler, Emerald Dove, Powerful Owl, Marbled Frogmouth and White-winged Triller. Securing these eight will take me to 290 species, and from there I would need 10 rarer species (landbird migrants, seabirds etc) to push my list over 300. There are also a number of other more enigmatic species that possibly occur regularly within Brisbane LGA but for which substantial exploratory searching will be needed. These include such goodies as Black-breasted Buttonquail, Barking Owl, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo and Yellow Thornbill.

With one year tick today (Australasian Grass-Owl), my year list rose to 282 species. I spent 40 minutes birding, walked 1.179 km and drove 32.8 km. My chronological year list is here.