Birds of Australian Outback: Australian bustard
Australian Bustard

Wildlife watching at Bowra Sanctuary

Australian bustard
Australian bustard

A sudden cold snap in Sydney this weekend provided a good reason to stay indoors and  to catch up on some trip reports. In May 2014 I had the opportunity to visit AWC’s Bowra Sanctuary in southern Queensland for a few days. Bowra is an internationally known hotspot for Australia’s threatened birdlife.

The 14,000 hectares property was owned by the McLaren family for five generations after which it was sold to Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

My visit coincided with a period of heavy rains and the sanctuary was barely accessible. For at least part of the way down the dirt road our car was travelling sideways sliding in the mud.

The wet conditions were not ideal for bird watching, but good for frogs! However, even though we didn’t spot any of Bowra’s iconic bird species, there were plenty of birds to observe.

Spotted bowerbird
Spotted bowerbird

For starters, a Spotted bowerbird built its bower in the back yard of the cottage we were staying in and he spent his days performing elaborate dances accompanied by a cacophony of calls, trying to attract the hard-to-impress females.

Spotted bowerbird at his bower
Spotted bowerbird at his bower
Spotted bowerbird
Spotted bowerbird

Over the next few days I managed to spot two lifers:  Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis) and Brolgas (Grus rubicund) – one of Australia’s only two crane species.

Australian bustard
Australian bustard
Family of Brolgas
Family of Brolgas

The water reservoir near the homestead supports quite a number of water species: Black-winged stilts, Red-kneed dotterel, White-fronted dotterel, Hoary-headed grebe, Australasian grebe, Whistling ducks, Grey teals and Straw-necked ibis.

Young black-winged stilt
Young black-winged stilt
Young black-winged stilt
Young black-winged stilt
White-fronted dotterel
White-fronted dotterel
Red-kneed dotterel
Red-kneed dotterel
Hoary-headed grebe
Hoary-headed grebe
Australasian grebe
Australasian grebe

In late afternoon White-breasted and White-browed woodswallows like to hunt insects from the branches of the trees growing near the reservoir.

White-browed-wood-swallow
White-browed-wood-swallow
White-browed-wood-swallow
White-browed-wood-swallow

The woodlands around the property also turned up some interesting species: Major Mitchell Cockatoo, Chestnut-crowned babbler, Plum-headed finch, Red-capped robin, Red-rumped parrot, red-winged parrot, Variegated fairy-wren, Australian hobbie and Jackie winter.

Major Mitchell cockatoo
Major Mitchell cockatoo
Red-capped robin
Red-capped robin
Jackie winter
Jackie winter
Plum-headed finch
Plum-headed finch

Frogging in Bowra was a lot of fun, given the wet conditions at the time. It was the wrong time of the year for the Crucifix frog, but the sheer numbers of the amphibians that were present were quite astounding. Overall I found 10 species in three nights, including an impressively large Giant burrowing frog (Cyclorana novaeholladiae), which is the most intimidating frog I have ever seen.

Giant burrowing or Wide-mothed frog
Giant burrowing or Wide-mothed frog
Giant burrowing or Wide-mothed frog
Giant burrowing or Wide-mothed frog

The other nine species were: Long-thumbed frog (Limnodynastes fletcheri), Spotted grass frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis), Green tree frog (Litoria caerulea), Broad-palmed rocket frog (Litoria latopalmata), Peron’s tree frog (Litoria peronii), Red tree frog (Litoria rubella), Sudell’s frog (Neobatrachus sudelii), Ornate burrowing frog (Platyplectrum ornatum), Wrinkled toadlet (Uporelia rugosa)

Sudell's frog
Sudell’s frog
Broad-palmed rocket frog
Broad-palmed rocket frog
Long-thumbed frog
Long-thumbed frog
Ornate burrowning frog
Ornate burrowing frog
Red tree frog
Red tree frog
Well camouflaged Spotted grass frog
Well camouflaged Spotted grass frog
Master of camouflage - Perron's treefrog
Master of camouflage – Perron’s treefrog
Perron's tree frog
Perron’s tree frog
Wrinkled toadlet
Wrinkled toadlet
Green tree frog
Green tree frog

 

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