07 April, 2010

Night and Day

Boyd's Forest Dragon. Relevant to end of owl story.
Barking owls are well named. Their call is like that of a small dog. the female has a high pitched two syllable call but the first is a diphthong. the males voice is lower pitched. She usually initiates dueting and can be very insistent. I once saw one fly to an unresponsive male, lean into his face and bark an invitation at him. He got the idea eventually. Maybe this is a bird I should have adopted as my totem in my youth?
This pair was photographed along Petersen Creek in Yungaburra. they have been using this site regularly for a while now. During the evening they can be seen in the Hoop Pine tree opposite the pub. From here they hunt the large moths which come to the lights of the village.
Barking Owls do not always bark. They also have a most beautiful soft churing sound which they use when waking in the evening and before going to sleep during the day. When disturbed during the day they seem to use this soft call to reassure their mate. As well as this they can scream! It is a most worrying sound which will cause the hairs to rise on the back of your neck.
Recently I had the most marvelous experience with a pair of Lesser Sooty Owls. My guests and I left a Lumholtz's Tree-Kangaroo to track down some noisy owls. Turns out it was only one noisy owl. As we headed in her direction I heard the very soft sound of a bomb dropping to our left. There was a male with a large freshly killed Boyd's Forest Dragon. A beautiful bird with a stunning reptile, newly molted to show its pinks, greens and blue-grey colours, with its yellow dewlap extended. The owl had the dragon by the skull. The female flew in and spread her wings in a wonderful soft pattern of curves and continued to make such harsh sounds.

The visual and auditory experiences were in conflict.
He disappeared, almost, into a dense tree and she followed. After a minute of much screaming and hissing she flew out with the dragon and he flew off quietly. When I made the falling bomb call she was quiet for 3 to 5 minutes before starting up again. Sometimes we see sleeping Green Ringtails in the trees along Petersen Creek. They love eating fig leaves.

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