Between 15 and 21 September, I went on the first big birding road trip of the year, to a place I’ve wanted to visit for years – Bowra Station, an Australian Wildlife Conservancy owned property near Cunnamulla, SW Queensland. I took a fairly scenic route there and back, going through Moree, Cunnamulla, Bourke, Round Hill Nature Reserve, and Grenfell – all up I did just under 3000 km in a week.
My main aim, apart from visiting a brand new area and picking up lifers, was to finally get good, clear shots of Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, and I’m pretty happy with the results.
I saw 180 species of bird, 1 frog, 5 reptiles, and at least 10 mammals, and photographed 3 butterflies (another one, and another one), and 2 dragon-flies (only 1 posted) over the week I was away, picking up 9 new species of bird.
The lifers were Bourke’s Parrot (a pair flushed and flew across the front of the car on my last proper day of birding); Hall’s Babbler (2 groups); Little Buttonquail (regular in the grassy areas south of the camp-area); Little Woodswallow (a pair posed for me on a stick out near Sawpits); Red-browed Pardalote (1 bird resident in area south of camp-area); Black-breasted Buzzard (fairly common in area); Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush (very ordinary, but tickable views near Stony Ridge); and both Black Honeyeater and Pied Honeyeater near the Main Creek crossing.
I managed to visit all of the main sites at Bowra over the 4 nights I was there (this is a scan of the map that comes in the guide you get on arrival – ~2 mb file), and managed to get in a serious amount of relaxation while birding at the lagoon in the afternoons, complete with esky and tripod mounted camera. The usual pattern was – awake at 6, spend 1-2 hours walking the area from the campsite to fenceline to the south, cut back across the scrub to the bore drain, then up to the top lagoon near the homestead, back to the tent for some breakfast via the lagoon in front of my tent, then head out to do some proper birding at a couple of spots, in to town for a bag of ice, some food for lunch and some lager, then spend the afternoon watching the antics of the resident wildlife – stay tuned for some video of hot bird-on-bird action – Black-fronted Dotterel are far more randy than I ever imagined them to be.
The highlights of Bowra are really too many to go into – it’s an amazing place, and you should get there if you can.
I was going to stay at Gundabooka NP on the way back, but after going through Bourke, and being a bit depressed by just how run down that place is, and after seeing the pretty mashed state of the road in (I don’t have a 4wd, although I do like to push it beyond it’s limits – so far, so good), I decided that I’d rather punch back to Sydney to watch the mighty Swans take on Collingwood on the Friday Night (I’d originally planned to get back home on the Sunday). So Gundabooka became Cobar – but I still had about 3 hours of light by the time I was there, so Cobar became Mt Hope – hey – I’m almost at Round Hill – so Mt Hope became Round Hill.
I visited Round Hill Nature Reserve on the way back, to try and see Red-lored Whistler. Amazingly, I dipped again. This is my 9th attempt at Round Hill, following on from another 2 attempts at Gluepot. It’s my new Ground Parrot – a bird that I can’t force into being seen, and I need to just accept that one will let me see it when I have walked sufficient miles. I did run into Martin and Penny Potter from the Illawarra there, who were gearing up to go spotlighting with a few other birders – amazing how you can not talk to anyone apart from a surly bottle-shop attendant, and then run into a group of like-minded individuals miles from anywhere, in the middle of a Nature Reserve.
You’re not allowed to camp in Round Hill NR itself anymore, so I was going to camp at Whoey Tank, which I think you can still camp in. However – the building electrical storm made me rethink sitting in a tent that is held up by 3 metal poles when that, and my car, would be the only conductive element between Mt Hope and Euabolong. So – off to Lake Cargelligo to try and get a room in a motel – I’d driven miles – I deserved it.
On the road through the reserve, and right near the railway line, I came across something I’d never seen before – a flock of bronzewings! a group of about 20 birds… my first thought was Flock Bronzewing! I pointed the car at them, and in between fat drops of rain I managed to get the bins on them – not Flock Bronzewings, but just a flock of Common Bronzewings. I’ve never seen more than 2 hang out together before, so that was unusual and interesting. Apart from a Barn Owl near Chat Alley, the drive in to LC was uneventful, and I had to put my tent up anyway as both motels were full.
Next day was the long trip home, going through Grenfell (where I saw my first Grey Fantail for the trip), and then the GPS took me on a mystical journey of country backroads going through places with names I’ve never heard of, like Bendick Murrell and Murringo. Then onto the highway, and home in time to watch the footy.
What a week!
To see more photos – click here. To see the complete list of birds seen, click “Continue Reading”.