Sunday, November 13, 2011

Attention, Owl Lovers!

ENOUGH of politics, dishonesty and hypocrisy, at least for the moment.

Consider instead something absolutely magnificent, the rufous owl. The one in the clip below lives in Taronga Park Zoo, where it recently laid an egg -- much to the surprise of its handlers, who had been labouring under the misconception they were raising a boy owl. Appealing as the video might be, the place to appreciate this most overlooked of  Australia's birds is up north, way up north, where there are accounts of the creatures carving chicanes through forest top storeys in pursuit of fruit bats, which they are said to sometimes bring down in midflight. Now that would be something to see!
 Now check the link below, which is beyond the Professor's ken to embed. It is an eagle owl, one of the largest species, which lives and hunts mostly in Europe and Northern Asia, but its quarry would not have time to make that distinction.. All it would see is death.



10 comments:

  1. Cats being destructive vermin, imagine my delight, when told by an environmentalist (a genuine one) in central Australia, that if food is scarce, wedge tail eagles will knock off a feral cat or two. Now that is something I would like to see from centre ringside. It would be THE Attenborough moment.

    ReplyDelete
  2. ANONYMOUS: The Billabong's moggy at this very moment is halfway up a tree by the window, stretched out like a white rubber band as she attempts to make herself invisible to the birds she fancies for lunch. True, cats should never have been brought into Australia, but they are here, along with the foxes, rabbits, hares, pigs, dogs, deer and scores of other invasive species, both animal and vegetable. It's a bit harder to find native cats these days, and if you can spot a water rat you are doing very well indeed. If greenies were genuinely serious about saving the environment, feral cats would be at the top of their target list. City cats, though, please cut them some slack. They are part of the evolving urban environment, which is as far removed from "natural" as is Wayne Swan from intelligence or competence. It is actually quite interesting to watch it develop and see balances struck or distorted -- the sparrows, mynahs, pigeons and the plague of foxes. About six months ago, at about 2am on Glenferrie Road, a yellow fox dashed through the Bunyipmobile's headlights with what looked very much like a pussycat between its jaws. It was one of those Attenborough moments and a reminder that Nature doesn't give a stuff about what a species of bipedal ape regards as "natural". Even in an artificial environment, it keeps right on with the business of being red in tooth and claw.

    That said, keep your cat inside at night. It is a sad sight to find, day after day, baby possums deposited on the door mat (although the local possum population is in no danger, going by the racket of thumping and jumping on the roof of the Billabong garage every night).

    ReplyDelete
  3. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.November 13, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    In her more agile days my aging moggie once deposited through the open window a large dead rat on my bed at 3am to show me she cared. She then became an inside cat at night, for the sake of my night sanity, such as it is at 3am. She now lives with me in an inner city apartment where she contents herself by barracking weakly for me while I pelt oranges at the fruit-bats in a nearby fig tree to shut them up in the long night hours. A hungry hungry owl is much needed around here.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Have heard that a recent cull of imported vermin went horrifically wrong because the bloody greenie idiots, having a "thing" against guns and shooters, elected to use poison baits. Had they just got onto the local SSAA branch, they might easily have rounded up half a dozen chaps (and the odd lass or two) keen on having a go at the quadruped imports, with a likely complete lack of collateral damage.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lizzie: Being white, the Billabong's little killer is a disadvanted stalker during daylight hours. Where ever she goes, there will be a butcherbird on a branch above screaming "Death! Death! Death!", so she concentrates on skinks, which she torments, tenderises and eats with evident satisfaction. At night she is a nest-robber, which is why she spends the dark hours prowling for the huntsmen that enter through the ventilator or biting the Professor's foot through the blankets.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I saw a Malcolm Douglas doco where these dark-skinned folk who more than identified as Aborigines, and live out around the Gibson Desert and what not, hunt and cook feral cats. They are relatively easy to track and then nulla-nulla once spotted, as cats have no endurance. They reckoned 'puddy-tat' was finger lickin' good, bloke!

    ReplyDelete
  7. skiptonite: The Indigenous version of Kentucky Fried Kitten, eh?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for some of the finer points on feline lore. I realise that the critters have been companion animals since earliest times, and your point about their modern urbanisation is taken in good faith. You have also recognised, with due emphasis, their incompatibility among our native fauna; most of it having evolved in the absence of highly developed predators.

    Unfortunately, I live in a rural backwater, where the wanderings of these carnivores range well beyond their centres of domestic bliss and thus outside the orbit of human responsibility. This on the slimmest of presumptions, that any such an onus existed in the first place. Ever the opportunists, they exploit the best of both worlds and many eventually go feral. Hence my abiding malevolence, even though the human factor allows wriggle room for mitigation.

    As for water rats. They are still with us, and will, at the first opportunity, nick a trout (usually the biggest) from any cache that you may have squirrelled in some reedy bower away from the heat and the blowies.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.November 13, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    My little mog's ratty gift was a Rattus Rattus, a big brute of a plague-carrying rodent from across the seas, not a little native cutie from the streams of old Gondwanaland.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The Eagle Owl, a magnificent bird, watched the video a few times, thank you for putting up the link.

    ReplyDelete