Owl Land Update – A bad year for babies!
From four breeding pairs monitored to date we can conclude that it has been a very tough year for the owls.
The Owl Land pair have moved further down from the Owl Land and are presently in an area which is increasingly being impacted by Human interference – Motor bikes and Horse Riders. Early indications in Lower Hazel St. and Hunter Rd. were promising but although ‘whitewash’ sites were significant we cannot locate the birds to date. The reports from Lower Bailey Road have also been unremarkable to date.
The Reserve Breeding pair appear to have changed hollows this year but because they are usually the most successful pair – usually exhibiting twins we have determined most of the factors at each site for the lack of successful breeding. The drought conditions extended well into Autumn and beyond.
Although we are only currently in receipt of approx. 60% of our annual rainfall the Winter and Spring nocturnal temperatures were much lower. The combination of a harsh drought affecting the breeding of nocturnal food sources such as Ringtail Possums, Gliders and Brushies and then much colder nights resulted in a severe deficiency in their food chain. However Clare and Franc believe that increased human interference is also playing an important part.
The Quinn Reserve pair we believe are easily disturbed by human habitation and possibly by the broad spraying that occurred at a critical time close to their habitat. Although they appear to be a juvenile pair, early indications due to the number of ‘pellets’ observed below their hollow demonstrated that the female was being fed for some time which suggests she was ‘sitting’ but that it may have been only one egg and we know that stressed birds often leave the nest when any further disturbance occurs. This can be fatal for fertilised eggs in extremely cold and elevated areas.
The impacts on the Owls in Mt Evelyn cannot be allowed to continue, it is critically urgent to keep the pair/ pairs(?) in the area and have them breeding successfully.