Birding from Bowra, SWQld

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Subject: Birding from Bowra, SWQld
From: "Jill Dening" <>
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2004 09:28:49 +1000
Hi Everyone,
I write from Bowra, Julie & Ian McLaren's property near Cunnamulla in south-west Queensland. It has been some time since our last visit, and so we are treasuring all of the birds we are seeing. And there are plenty. The country is in good condition, although Ian says that Cunnamulla is a bit of an oasis in the desert at the moment. We certainly saw a lot of dry country on our way west from the Sunshine Coast.
So far this time we (husband James Hall and I) have built a list of 112 species on Bowra, and this is our fifth and last day before leaving in the morning. All I wanted this time was another look at a Black-breasted Buzzard, and it seems that I will go home without my wish. There are several species which we have been surprised not to have seen so far - like White-browed Babbler, White-browed Treecreeper,Double-barred Finch. Mind you, there has been the odd compensation, like nesting Redthroats. And this morning we finally found White-winged Wrens. Splendids are plentiful.
The Redthroats attracted James by their call, a typical scrubwren-like scolding. He reasoned that as there are no scrubwrens on Bowra, it was worth investigating. With patience, we located the birds, and were then treated to a session of some of the sweetest birdsong we have ever heard, from the male. Before I realised what was making the song, I thought I was hearing Yellow-rumped Thornbills, and on seeking the source of the call, found it coming from the Redthroat. Its repertoire is impressive. We noticed that both male and female kept returning to the same spot, and in time we located the spot where the nest is, hidden in the still-standing stump of a pushed mulga. The skeleton of the pushed mulga provides cover for the birds. Ian knew that birders had recently found Redthroats on his property (not in the same spot), , but I understand that there was no evidence of breeding then. We were unable to look into the nest because of the tangle of dead mulga surrounding it.
Plentiful at present are Willie Wagtail (never seen anything like it), Jacky Winter, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo, Zebra Finch, Galah, Budgerigar, Babblers both Grey-crowned and Chestnut-crowned, Red-capped Robin, Fairy Martin, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, and heaps of thornbills. We think we saw the Slaty-backed, but haven't put it on our list, because we needed another look. James saw a mob of 50 Major Mitchells this morning, whilst I lay in bed, too sooky to get up and face the cold. There are rewards for the brave-hearted.
We are staying in the cottage, and just out the back is a dead cypress-pine which is a favoured singing tree. It gets so much use that the birds seem to queue for their spot of singing. Many birding-aus subscribers have visited Bowra, and if you are one who has meant to and hasn't yet done so, get out here right now. The country moves me so much, the mulga, cypress-pine, sandalwood and wilga. The wilga is currently in blossom, whilst the long-fruited bloodwood is heavily in bud. When it blossoms, we have seem swarms of woodswallows feeding in it. At present the woodswallow numbers are low, although we have seen Dusky, Little, Black-faced and Masked.
I used to think that the good birding didn't begin until we were well west of Cunnamulla and Charleville, but these days I will settle happily for Bowra. It makes such a difference to have the run of a whole property, instead of the usual birding along roads and tracks, well aware of the need not to trespass on private property. I have just found the phone number on my brochure, and you can make contact on 07 4655 1238 or email (I have no interest in the place except as a birder.) Ian has been interested in birds all his life. It wasn't a subject you could discuss with other farmers. When Julie and Ian first opened up Bowra to birders, they didn't know the names of a great many of the birds they knew so well. Now, they have learned most of the names, and can keep you interested for ages with features they know about the habits of some of the birds. Ian doesn't use binoculars, but he can tell you who is flying over there. This morning we were watching White-winged wrens with him, and he noted that they love to take advantage of cast off fence netting, and that these days when he has some old netting, instead of cleaning it up, he ploughs it into a mound of dirt,and it becomes a safe sanctuary for wrens, who can get through the mesh easily.
Our last species this evening, as the birds rattled and cackled their way to their night roosts was Hall's Babbler. We had not seen it throughout the five days, and as we headed back to the car and to a drink with Ian & Julie, out came two Hall's Babblers to take the list to 112. Not normally a twitcher, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching James' list grow over the past days. Perhaps I have the potential after all to be a twitcher.
cheers all, from the happiest twitcher in Cunnamulla,
Jill Dening
07 5494 0994
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