For the second year running I spent a week on the property "Bowra" at
Cunnamulla in SW Queensland. Interestingly enough, we arrived on the same day
as last year, the 8th of July. As last year this was a family holiday with
intensive birding more or less restricted to the mornings before 10AM. The
rest of the time was enjoying life with the kids, be it yabbying, fishing,
mustering cattle or drenching sheep. The hardest part of the week was
convincing the kids that it was time to head home.
What I found interesting were the differences in bird activity between last
year and this. In 2000 the Spotted Bowerbirds were going at it hammer and
tongs but this year only a few bowers had the first bit of new grass added to
the bowers. Last year there were plenty of coloured fairy-wrens to be seen -
Variegated, Splendid and White-winged. This year not a coloured male was seen
in a week, no shortage of brown, eclipse plumaged, birds though. In 2000 I was
impressed by the number of Major Mitchell Cockatoos seen. These were in pairs
scattered around the property. This year there were even more MM Cockies in
flocks of up to 100 birds. Quite clearly the breeding season for a number of
species is a bit later this year in this part of the world.
Also obvious was the disappearance, or reduced numbers, of a number of species.
Last year Plum-headed Finches and Diamond Doves were common, this year none
were seen at all. The number of Peaceful Doves, although still easy enough to
find, were also greatly reduced.
These differences can probably be attributed to a difference in the season.
Last year was a good year whilst this year has been dry. Some rain had fallen
in June but the six months prior to that were very dry.
For the first three days we were there a US birder was also staying. This
provided me with a fairly unique experience as I showed him a few of the local
birds (all new to him). I can't remember the last time I spent so much time
pursuing Yellow-rumped Thornbills or a Restless Flycatcher with someone! I
recommend this to anyone who wants to get back to the basics of WATCHING birds.
Besides the differences mentioned the birding was excellent. The parrots are
always highlights with Red-winged, Mulgas and Ringnecks common. Bourkes Parrots
were outside the shearers quarters one afternoon. The "Mulga birds" were, as
usual, interesting with Chestnut-breasted Quailthrush and White-browed
Treecreepers highlights. Red-browed Pardalotes were tolerably common although
far outnumbered by Striateds. Brolgas calling over the other side of the bore
drain added to the night time experience.
This area is a great one for those wanting to get away from it all while
enjoying some great birding. It's certainly a place that we will be revisiting
Regent Honeyeater Recovery Coordinator
P.O. Box 2111
Dubbo NSW 2830
Ph. Freecall 1800 621 056 or 02 6883 5335
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