Friday, June 17, 2011

Sturt NP to Bowra Sanctuary

May 2011
The dirt road from Sturt NP to Noccundra was in good condition so we made good progress. While having morning tea along the road we were entertained by a couple of calling Crested Bellbirds. Further along the road there were big numbers of Black-faced Woodswallows and Black Kites. These were mainly congregating around the road works along a big stretch of the road.

We arrived at Thargomindah  late in the afternoon, but still in time to take the Riverside walk that starts just opposite the camp ground. Almost as soon as we entered the reserve we heard a mistletoebird that was happy to come in to investigate a brief call back.  Along the river banks there were a number of Australian Ibis and White-necked Herons, but nothing to get too excited about. In the sky however, there were large mixed flocks of Woodswallows that settled into some the large river bank trees as the light faded. Closer inspection revealed that the three species present were; Black-faced, White-browed and Masked Woodswallows. As we watched the Woodswallows grooming, arguing and whatever else they do before getting some shut eye, a flock of 10 Red-winged Parrots landed in an adjacent tree.
Masked Woodswallows
These parrots are good looking birds at any time, but in this light they were spectacular. A nearby noisy group of Apostlebirds caught our attention with their antics. The fading light prevented any serious photography so we headed back to the camp.
The first stop the following day was Lake Bindegolly National Park. We've been fortunate to see this lake both empty and full in the past so we knew what to expect with the waters only slightly lower than last year. As soon as we stopped Brogas could be heard in the direction of the free camp on the other side of the road. Unfortunately they were disturbed by campers before we got near, or maybe it was us. I didn't bother adding to my bum shot collection as they disappeared into the distance. 
Great Crested-grebe
I reckon if you're out this way this is one of the best free camping spots around, with scattered sites just above the lake. At this time last year you couldn't camp there unless you were prepared to walk in, due to water over the vehicle track.
Water birds were prolific with nesting Great Crested Grebes, Australasian Grebes, Darters, Cormorants and Black Swans being the dominant species.
Restless Flycatcher
We took the opportunity to have a quick look round and soon encountered Diamond Doves, White-winged Fairy-wrens, Singing Honeyeaters and Black-faced Woodswallows. We made a quick stop at Eulo bore. Given it was mid-afternoon, there wasn't a lot about. Really, to get the best out of this location you need to be around just before sunset when many birds come in for a drink. Though I doubt that the bore would be that attractive to local birds at the moment as there was a lot of surface water about elsewhere.
This was our fourth visit to Bowra in the last two years and the first since the Australian Wildlife Conservancy took over the property. The actual day to day running of the sanctuary is undertaken by volunteers from Birds Queensland. On arrival we were greeted by the the current manager and shown where to camp. 
Red-winged Parrot

Thankfully the lagoon contained some water, which was not the case on the last visit. The mistake I'd often made in the past was to neglect the area around the lagoon in preference for the far reaches of the property. So on arrival I made an effort to photograph the resident lagoon birds and any others that came in for a late afternoon drink. On the lagoon there were Black-winged Stilts, Straw-necked Ibis, a Black-fronted Dotterel and Grey Teals. During the stay a small flock of Red Rumps, Red-winged Parrots and a few Galahs came in for a drink, or to just check the place out. I also had a visit from the resident Restless Flycatchers, which are always fun to photograph.
The next day with the property map in hand we headed out to find a few of the specialities. It didn't take long to find six Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush exactly where the map indicated. The little buggers didn't want their photograph taken, so yet again came away with shots for my bum shot gallery. As for the other rarities we didn't have much luck so settled for some quiet time by the Gumholes. There were White-backed Swallows, Welcome Swallows and White-breasted Woodswallows chasing insects overhead.
Peaceful Dove
Zebra finches were crowding a small scrub near the water. Meanwhile a Peaceful Dove was kind enough to land close by and pose for a few shots. We had intended staying three nights but stayed only two. To be honest the bird numbers were significantly down on previous visits. I've no doubt that if you spent the time you would find all the property's specialities, however we decided our time could be spent better elsewhere. The truth is Bowra shines when there is not a lot of water about elsewhere as it has permanent water. One of the great things that the Birds Queensland group have introduced is the nightly bird calls. Here  the birds seen during the day are recorded and birders/photographers can share experiences and knowledge.
It was surprising to find Ian still had cattle on the property. Also there were large numbers of feral goats and pigs seen around the property. I know progress was being made in this regard, with a big number of goats removed just before we got there. I'm not sure if the pig eradication program was working as it seemed that the hunters were concentrating on the big animals and leaving the small pigs behind. Maybe they were looking to the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment