I saw an owl in the wild for the first time on Saturday.
I’ve seen owls in zoos before but every time it never quite felt right. Captivity takes away so many of the things I like about them, and they just don’t look happy. Then again I guess they naturally look pretty angry most of the time. Anyway, one of the things I most wanted to do this year was see an owl in its natural habitat.
As I posted before, Dad and I are volunteering with Birds in Backyards soon to help keep tabs on Sydney’s Powerful Owl population. We thought we’d try and find one before the project begins in August. I found a recent article somewhere about one that had chosen to live in the Botanical Gardens, near the Opera House. We braved wet conditions to try and spot it.
A ranger took us to the tree (near Goverment House) where their resident owl was known to hang out. They love him, the ranger told us, because he helps them take care of their growing bat problem. Apparently he’s been known to kill bats and not eat them, just tear them up for fun and I suppose hunting practice.
Eventually we saw him. I guess there wasn’t all that much to this moment but I’ll remember it as long as I live. At the foot of the tree we found the famous telltale owl pellets made of regurgitated undigestible animal parts. Amongst them was a clearly visible jawbone and skull. And far up in the tree, there he was. The Powerful Owl was as large and majestic as everything I’d read. In the drizzle of the early morning he sat there quietly hidden from the rest of the world - just keeping an eye on things, biding his time. He swivelled his head around to check us out with those big yellow eyes, and then returned to his sentinel-like post. A family of French tourists happened to be passing by with a small child and I pointed out what I was looking at. They spent a few minutes sharing a moment with us, explaining owls in French to their child.
I like owls. They mean a lot to me for a lot of reasons and I see qualities in them that I admire greatly.
I’ll keep the blog up to date as the conservation project unfolds.