Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The Southern Boobook

There is a large gum tree at the top of our driveway. & it has one particular branch that seems to be a favoured resting place for birds. It is where I saw the spangled drongo that I wrote about earlier this month. It is where I saw a crow & a raven side by side & understood the differences between them - my bird book says the crow has an uk-uk-uk-uk call, the raven a drawn out ahh-ahh-ahh-r-r-r. Fine,you think, that's an easy way to tell them apart, until the day I saw a crow in the same tree, & with one breath it was going uk & then the next it was going ahh.
Last night's bird was the Southern Boobook, for me a nostalgic bird because as its scientific name - Ninox novaeseelandiae - suggests, it is also found in New Zealand where, I think, it is the only owl. There - & in some parts of Australia as well - it is known as the mo-poke which is one interpretation of a call that has been described as "leisurely, two-syllable, & though soft in tone can carry for some kilometres". Usually I hear them from a distance, calling from down by the lagoon or from the slightly more distant Botanical Gardens. Seeing one in the garden was kickarse.
When young I thought their name was morepork....

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