Back O Bourke

Subject: Back O Bourke
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001 11:25:50 +1000
Have just returned from what I had planned as a combined atlassing trip and 
short family holiday to a property in the Cuttaburra Channel country, 150 
kilometres northwest of Bourke.  Cuttaburra Creek is mid-way between the 
Warrego and Paroo Rivers.  The area in question has had few Atlas sheets 
completed with most 10 minute blocks having none, a few have had only one or 
two sheets returned at most.

The trip didn't go quite as planned.  The initial plan was to spend 4 nights in 
the shearers quarters on the station "Comeroo", leaving Dubbo on Friday and 
returning on Tuesday.  I was informed that an inch of rain fell on "Comeroo" on 
Thursday but that things were still OK to come out.  We left after lunch on 
Friday, the plan being to overnight in Bourke as Friday was meant to be sunny 
in Bourke meaning the roads should be trafficable early Saturday.  
Unfortunately a further inch and a half fell on Thursday night and the weather 
remained cloudy all day Friday.  We eventually left Bourke at 2PM Saturday 
afternoon after a sunny morning reasoning that the red sand country would dry 
out more quickly.

The trip was interesting but we got through.  The last five kilometres from the 
homestead to the shearers quarters was to be the most challenging as it 
entailed "a little" black soil country.  The plan was to tow our station wagon 
through the boggy sections.  A great plan but the mud was to deep even for the 
four wheel drive.  As the sun set we conceded defeat and limped back to the 
homestead where two adults, two children (7 & 3 years old) plus a six week old 
baby were ensconced in a small room with two single beds.  Could have been 
worse.  The kids actually had a great time socialising with the other guests, 
yabbying and "organising" the camels.

We left "Comeroo" at midday Monday as more rain was expected that night.

Because of the wet conditions getting access to many of the best areas was 
problematic.  I managed to get into a number of previously unatlassed blocks 
which was the primary goal.  Most of my birding was confined to the red sand 
country which was also woody weed country.  As a result bird diversity was not 
great.  Compared to a trip to "Bowra" at Cunnamulla last July the birding was 
very disappointing.

Highlights were few.  Major Mitchell Cockatoos seen while bogged in the black 
soil on the way into the shearers quarters and again the next day at another 
small black soil plain.  Mulga Parrots and Red-winged Parrots were, 
surprisingly, fairly scarce.  Crested Bellbirds and Spotted Bowerbirds 
tolerably common, but not abundant as they were at Cunnamulla.  White-browed 
Treecreepers were seen at a number of sites.

The greatest highlights were actually while travelling to and from "Comeroo".  
A Bustard was seen just south of Bourke on Saturday morning.  Bourke had the 
usual flocks of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos and Brolgas were seen on a billabong 
just north of town.  On the return journey we overnighted at Byrock, 75 km 
south of Bourke.  I visited a previously unatlassed block south-west of town 
early the next morning.  On one 2ha site I was rewarded with Chestnut-breasted 
Quailthrush, Major Mitchell Cockatoo as well as Mulga and Red-winged Parrots.  
Nice birding!

I hope to get Back 'o Bourke again in a couple of months.  The area has 
promise, I'm convinced that there are some good birds to be found if the access 
is available.

I recommend that anyone travelling get a printout of the atlas coverage before 
they leave.  This enabled me to target areas where coverage has been poor.  One 
interesting thing I found was that the block centred on Bourke had 66 sheets 
completed while those immediately around it were neglected.  I assume that 
travellers overnighted in town and completed a sheet while there.  With a 
little planning and less effort I travelled a short distance out of town and 
contributed sheets in previously unatlassed blocks, and saw a few nice birds 
while at it.

David Geering
Regent Honeyeater Recovery Coordinator
P.O. Box 2111
Dubbo NSW 2830
Ph. Freecall 1800 621 056 or 02 6883 5335

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