Sat 17 May 2014 05:00pm

Kathy Walter & John Goldie

Our evening spotlighting for nocturnal birds and mammals will commence from Lowden Forest Park picnic area in Tallaganda State Forest at 5pm. If we are lucky we will hear/see Powerful Owl, Southern Boobook and Greater Glider. There is also a possibility of Sugar Glider, Common Ringtail and Common Brushtail Possum, Tawny Frogmouth and Owlet-nightjar.

Bring your own picnic tea (& table and chair if you want) which we will have just before sunset. Once it gets dark we will drive slowly back towards Canberra spotlighting and listening as we go. You will also need a torch, warm clothes and a map to get you there and back. A spotlight is not necessary, but if you have one all the better. Rain and spotlighting don’t mix, so if rain is forecast the trip will be cancelled.

Lowden Forest Park picnic area has some interesting history and a couple of short walks in the forest nearby, so you might enjoy arriving early enough to spend some time looking around before dark.

As we are stopping and starting on the side of forest roads in the dark there will be a limit of 5 vehicles for this trip. If you are interested in coming, contact Kathy Walter or John Goldie at walter.goldie@optusnet.com.au.

Post event report

Eight members and visitors met at Spotlight, Queanbeyan, to carpool for the journey via Hoskinstown and Rossi to Lowden Forest Park, where the other 5 were waiting. A Wedge-tailed Eagle and Brown Quail were seen on the drive, while the early arrivals at Lowden had already seen a Bassian Thrush.

The pre-spotlighting walk was on the short Dead Cow Track. There was movement near the top of the eucalypts – Red-Browed Treecreepers, and then a flock of Striated Thornbills and a male Golden Whistler.  As we reached the end of the track, two Bassian Thrush gave everyone stunning views as they hopped over the open area near the water wheel, set up in the 1950’s to power a generator.

While we waited for darkness to descend, we had an early dinner. A can of cold soup won the Masterchef award for the evening.

Kathy and John took us through the procedures for spotlighting: where to stand, what we were looking for, and don’t get your hopes up. Darkness came, and we started spotlighting the trees around the Thrush lawn. A Greater Glider after one minute – beautiful! About five minutes to the next one, which carefully arranged itself to show off the long, dark tail and the white underbelly. When we got to five gliders it was time to go. Radios checked, and out on the road.

Maybe 10 minutes to the first stop. The Ringtail Possum also arranged itself well – tail up (white tip, not bushy), head down, not black, clearly a different animal. Another 10 minutes to the second Ringtail. But the night was about owls. The sounds, recorded, of Sooty, Southern Boobook and Powerful were heard at a number of stops. No response. The final stop. First attempt, near the cars. No owl. The bottom of the hill, near the creek, had seen Powerfuls on previous trips, so more broadcasting. There was some excitement when Sugar Gliders were heard – the first for the evening – but not seen. “So thanks all, great night, the gliders and possums were great”. One of the experienced owlers felt something in her waters, but there it stayed. “See you next time”.

As the owlers approached the cars a distant “boo-book” interrupted their chat. Out with the speakers. The boo-booking stayed distant, but Linda, on her first COG excursion, had listened carefully to the instructions, and was watching the trees above the road. A silent B had flown in, clearly visible to all on a dead branch. The first owl Linda had seen. After a while it started calling. We drove off to with the two owls continuing their conversation.

John Giacon

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