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Bird Club meeting and a new species too.

August 17th, 2010

On Saturday, the 14th I planned on attending the Blue Mountains Bird Observers Club meeting to catch up with some keen bird watchers and also to hear a particular speaker whom I hold in high regard for his work on the owls of NSW. He is none other than Dr. Rod Kavanagh, a research scientist who has probably forgotten more about owls than most mere mortals would ever even know.

Before the meeting I visited the area around Kings Tableland in the hope of finding something exciting. My friend Sue Thomson was there to see some cool stuff and the first thing I noted as I got out of the car was the Rockwarbler hopping about the cliff area. It made the little calls its known for and hopped close to view and photograph. I also noticed a Brown Thornbill being very vocal so I played its call and within about five seconds a little bird was less than two meters from where I stood. Amazing!

All up, there were two Rockwarblers, a lovely small bird that is endemic to the Sydney region pretty much. When we drove back, I noted a Currawong sitting on the wire. I said to Sue here is a Currawong for your list and as we got a little closer, she said it looked like a Grey Currawong, not a Pied. I got excited for I was yet to see a Grey. And Grey it was with the most spectacular tinkling call, which it emitted every thirty or so seconds for a few minutes with a longer stop. It’s a shame the bird was on a wire, but at least I got to see one. It was time to head back to the club and wait Rod Kavanagh ‘s arrival.

An adult Grey Currawong at Kings Tableland.

This guy called frequently with a high-pitched, almost chiming call. Just gorgeous.

Rod Kavanagh presented a good hour and a half long session called “The secret life of Sydney’s owls”, which was absolutely mind-blowing in content and very well presented. IT is amazing to know that there are countless records of these birds of the night from the Sydney basin, including Powerful Owl, Boobook Owl, Barking Owl, Masked Owl, Barn Owl and Sooty Owl. The club members were shown statistical data on where the sightings were, well some sightings as how would it be possible to ascertain the numbers of owls and their territories based on people’s observations and reporting? That would be difficult since perhaps 99.9% of the population wouldn’t even know an owl if they saw one, let alone be able to identify these by calls or other characteristics.

Dr. Rod Kavanagh presenting to the BMBO members.

I had learned that the majority of owl records stemmed from the area of the Royal National Park and also the northern suburbs from around Chatswood to Hornsby and west where there is still a lot of natural bushland and forests that provide suitable habitat. This of course does (did) not mean that owls didn’t exist anywhere, but perhaps again, a lot more people would be well aware of owls’ presence in these leafy suburbs and also a lot more people – such as bird watchers – would visit some of the areas where the observations were recorded.

To me the meeting was fascinating, Rod’s knowledge of our owls is astounding and I hope that one day I will be able to contribute to their studies in one way or another.

Nature Photography

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