The tawny owl and other bird things

The Tawny Owl is a medium-sized earless owl, stocky in build with excellent directional hearing. They eat mostly rodents, which they swallow whole, but may extend their diet to other birds – including smaller owls. When tending to a hungry nest of owlets, they will occasionally hunt during the day, but are otherwise nocturnal. (source 1) (source 2)

Pictured above is tonight’s Tawny Owl of Feeling Shitty at Technology because I’d planned to catch up on this week’s uni reading, but the Curtin Uni study website is down.

Our recent weekend in Busselton was quite lovely. We stayed at the Broadwater Beach Resort in one of their beachfront villas. It’s not exactly beachfront, but close enough at a 1-minute walk. Don’t let the website photos fool you – it’s nothing like the pristine, modern High Life Apartments of Dunsborough – but more old 70′s/80′s style comfy accommodation where you wouldn’t be scared to track the beach onto the carpet. More photos at my mobile blog.

We visited the Busselton Jetty for a long walk, patchy sunburn and a couple of stubby holders. Don’t expect much from the jetty – it’s pretty much a 4km walk to the end and back – but it is a pleasant walk. If you have cash to throw away, the train looked like a jolly old ride of travelling only slightly faster than pedestrians and fisherfolk.

I enjoyed it, though. I saw a bird I didn’t recognise and spent a good part of late afternoon trying to figure out what it was.

I think it might be a tern.

Come to think of it, we had a few bird-related encounters. The first morning we were there, I awoke to the sound of a singing magpie outside. He sat on the railing like it was his balcony and his empty beer bottles left on the table. I opened the door and offered him a biscuit. He plucked it confidently from my hand, took a moment to contemplate his windfall, and flew away.

Shortly after, another magpie landed on that same spot and started to sing, but I was over the novelty of magpie-feeding by then. After about a minute, the singing turned into some choice words of crochety scolding before he took off.

Second day of the trip, we heard a weird sound coming from the trees – it was like a bu-ooh. At first, I thought it was an owl, but owls don’t usually sing on blisteringly bright mornings. We looked over the balcony and saw a doveĀ dipping its head to the bu-ooh. I’m not sure what species it was, but it looked like one of these except almost twice the size and girth. It had to be him.

Bu-ooh and we see another dove approach. Bu-ooh – ah, must be his mating call for the ladies. Sure enough, he puffs out his wings and tail and starts dancing from side to side, just like the crazy bird of paradise in the BBC documentary. I’ve never seen anything like it in person before.

Without David Attenborough’s dulcet enthusiasm to narrate, it turned out to be a pretty awkward sight as the girl dove turned and walked away. Even more awkward as our Romeo stalked after her, shouting bu-ooh across the yard.

Forever alone.