Powerful Owl spotted on Mount Canobolas earlier this year

WHAT A HOOT: The Powerful Owl was spotted during a recent survey of Mount Canobolas. Photo: SUPPLIED
WHAT A HOOT: The Powerful Owl was spotted during a recent survey of Mount Canobolas. Photo: SUPPLIED

A team of volunteers and researchers will stake out Mount Canobolas next month in the hope of spotting a rare owl listed as threatened.

The Powerful Owl, Australia's largest owl species, was seen and photographed for the first time on Mt Canobolas during a post bushfire analysis earlier in the year.

Ecologist Dr Anne Kerle spotted the species while conducting a systematic survey for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service as part of a program to monitor the recovery of the State Conservation Area.

It's one of those places that's been there forever but hadn't had any major drama until the fires

Anne Kerle

Dr Kerle said it was likely there was only two of the owls on the mount, feeding off gliders and ring-tail possums, which were also "pretty rare inland from the Blue Mountains."

"[The Powerful Owl] needs a large area of vegetation that will carry the species it eats," she said.

"The ring-tail possums and gliders are present here and not really anywhere else nearby due to land clearing."

Dr Kerle said Mount Canobolas existed as an "island habitat" amid the land which had been cleared for farming.

IT'S BACK: Rejuvenation of Mount Canobolas was well under way when this photograph was taken six months after the fires. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

IT'S BACK: Rejuvenation of Mount Canobolas was well under way when this photograph was taken six months after the fires. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

She said, despite this, relatively little was known on the types of rare flora and fauna which existed on it.

"It's one of those places that's been there forever but hadn't had any major drama until the fires, so the systematic studies like what we're doing now, weren't done," she said.

"National Parks need funding and time to do this kind of work."

Over four nights in November, Dr Kerle will lead a team to monitor animal activity on the mountain, based at Federal Falls campground.

Around 50 traps will be set throughout 12 different sites, with the aim of collecting data on what is roaming the grounds at night.

A team of birdwatchers will use spotlights to record what's happening in the trees and a reptile expert will head along to report on the mountains' scaled population.

Dr Kerle said the systematic studies was to collect data which could be used to compare plant and animal regeneration in years to come.

She said animal numbers post-bushfire were particularly difficult to judge because monitoring had been so limited.

"Vegetation is growing quite well, but it's early days to know if some of the special species might be returning and how fast they might be returning," she said.

Dr Kerle said the Powerful Owl foraged right across the mountain, which made them all the more elusive.

"It's a bit of a game of luck if you'll see them, you're more likely to hear them," she said.

This story Scientists stake out Mount Canobolas amid reports of rare bird first appeared on Central Western Daily.