Category Archives: Queensland

2012 – a review

What a year! and what a belated summary!

A beautiful Olive-backed Oriole at Bowra

A beautiful Olive-backed Oriole at Bowra

2012 saw me go on 2 big trips, 2 smaller ones, and many, many day trips around Sydney. The big trips were – as regular readers of this blog no doubt remember with great warmth and fondness ;) – up to Bowra in September, and SW Victoria in December. The shorter trips were down the south coast of NSW. I managed 4 pelagic trips out of Sydney (March, May, July and October), each one giving me a lifer – the highlight no doubt being Cooks Petrel. I saw 352 species last for the year, taking the life list up to 526. Not too shabby an effort at all.

All the spots I recorded birds at in 2012

All the spots I recorded birds at in 2012

2013 promises to be a touch quieter. I’m going back to Uni to do more study, and while that will stop me getting out as much as I’ll be working, it also has 2 lots of residential schools that have got a day off in between lab work. So, weather being kind, I’ll have a full day in Autumn and Spring to kick about the Chiltern area in between learning about birds. woo. I’m going to be visiting Werribee STW at least 3 times this year – which isn’t bad for a Sydney birder. The first trip there will be a brief visit to the T Section ponds in a couple of weeks time, then again in mid April (which is when the OBP’s are around – I don’t expect to see any though) and again in late August/early September. We’re planning a trip to Northern NSW, an area I haven’t visited in many years, and there’ll be the usual end of year trip to somewhere as yet undecided. Who knows how many birds I’ll manage this year, but I’d expect somewhere around the 300 mark.

Fairy Prion

Fairy Prion

Anyway – all the best to everyone for 2013 birding. My first “big” trip will be tomorrow next week when I head down to Shoalhaven Heads to try for this Oriental Plover, and then swing back via Shellharbour swamps to get Painted Snipe and Pectoral Sandpiper on the year list. I might even try to get to Barren Grounds – why not try for Ground Parrot eh? It was going to be today (Sunday) but the rain has thwarted my plans. Let’s hope the OP sticks around!

Here’s a few more highlight shots from 2012.

Major Mitchell's Cockatoo

Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo

Buller's Albatross being ridiculously photogenic

Buller’s Albatross being ridiculously photogenic

This White Chinned Petrel got everyone quite excited

This White Chinned Petrel got everyone quite excited

Red-capped Plover on the beach at Shoalhaven Heads

Red-capped Plover on the beach at Shoalhaven Heads

Cheers
Troy

Bowra star trails - the only clear night of the trip!

Bowra star trails – the only clear night of the trip!

Gumholes Waterhole

Bowra Station, 15-21 September 2012

The route taken

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.

Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo

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.

Southern Scrub Robin

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”.

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