Two weeks ago I mentioned that we rarely got rain at this time of year. However, sometimes it does rain and on 26th May we had our wettest May day on record for Broome! In town there was 93mm over a couple of hours and the rain has spread throughout the Kimberley in recent days. Gravel roads are now closed, but so is the Kimberley unless you are a resident. It has been overcast and the blue sky was missing on our bush-walking trip on May 25th.

We often head into the bush for a walk and every trip is rewarding. Even after so many years birding there are surprises! As we walked by a huge tree with massive hollows in it a Southern Boobook flew out. Despite the Southern Boobook being one of the more common owls in Australia they are heard more often than they are seen. We usually hear them when we go camping and have observed them in the dark. This was the first time that we had seen them in broad daylight even though it was a dull day. Barking Owls can be observed in Broome around town if you know where to look. We have heard a Southern Boobook recently at home, but we have not seen one very close to home.  The call of a Southern Boobook is distinct and the reason for their other name-Mopoke.

The first Southern Boobook to come out of the tree hollow flew some distance, but the second bird did not. We could see where it had landed and cautiously moved forward. The first photos I took had leaves across the face of the bird and the sky was very dull. The header photo is my first photo. I had no concern over which direction the light was coming from, because it wasn’t! I crept slowly forward and lowered myself to the ground for some better photos and we watched each other and the surrounding area. A Little Friarbird was not too pleased about the Southern Boobook and swooped a few times, but it remained on the branch for some time.

The tree where the Southern Boobook were in a hollow

I managed to take quite a few photos of the Southern Boobook. This is the first time that we have had one land close to us when it has come out of a hollow and we were able to take photos. Of course I took a lot of photos, because you never know if and when the opportunity will arise again! I have selected a handful to share with you.

Southern Boobook

We are unsure as to whether the pair of Southern Boobook are breeding or just roosting inside the hollow tree. There is ample food for them in the area and hopefully we will observe them on future visits.

For those of you that miss me mentioning some of the other wildlife around Broome I think I should mention the Black-headed Python we also saw last week! The snake had sadly been hit by a vehicle and was off the edge of the highway. It was such an impressive size that it had to be measured! Of course, we always have a tape measure in our vehicle! It was around two metres long and had a very wide girth.

Black-headed Python measuring

In case you are confused about “Southern” when we live in Broome, then that is the name of the Southern Boobook regardless of where you observe them in Australia. They are widely spread across the whole continent in a variety of habitats and are nocturnal birds. Black-headed Pythons are only in the north of Australia.

Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!