|Male Red-winged Parrot|
|Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush calling.|
Our stay at Bowra began on Sunday with a drive down to the front gate – 6 km at 10 - 15 kph and lots of stopping – during which we had good views of a Black Falcon and a flock of 14 Emu right near the gate. The Grey Falcon was not in the “Falcon Tree” but our hunt had begun. From the front gate we headed out to look for Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush and found one, of all places, up a tree where it moved from branch to branch until it finally flew down and ran away, as they always do. Walking on I had a very brief view of a pair of Hall’s Babblers then got very nice views of Splendid Fairy-wrens and a female Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush.
|This is an old map and location 7 is no longer accessible but it is otherwise accurate|
|This little gentleman was all puffed up as he came down to drink with the females|
The rest of the day was a drive out to Gumholes for lunch where we left our friend Ian and his camera. Top birds at Gumholes were Plum-headed Finch, Double-bar Finch and Diamond Dove as well as a couple of spectacular butterflies. After lunch we drove on to do the Western Paddock loop, still looking for the elusive Grey Falcon, a tick for Joy. The grass is incredibly long in all the paddocks and the trees are fresh and growing, bright in new young leaves. A waterhole has filled half way down the southern leg of the Western Paddock loop and a pair of Spotted Harriers were working over the long grass. At the far back end of the loop Joy finally got a look at a Grey Falcon as it took off and flew away over the top of the mulga. YES, with the tick secured we could relax a bit and look for the rest of the Bowra specials.
|Male Plum-headed Finch|
Dinner that night was Osso-bucco and as we ate it a Boobook (almost a nice alliteration there) called from somewhere off in the distance, and frogs called from the lake. The night was calm and clear with stars bright overhead so we sat around in front of the tents and mused on the day's birding and the possible birds for the next day, as you do.
|Male Emus developing the blue face skin of breeding|
|Emus have such wonderful expressions|
|This very pale Emu looked huge; a reversion to something from Gondwanaland perhaps?|
The weather on Monday was, again, perfect for birding with no wind and clear blue skies. Our luck held in this regard as every day of our stay had daytime temps in the high 20s C and at night it got down to the high teens. We had lunch by the dam in the Western Paddock and as we ate a Spotted Harrier worked over the grassland and a Black-breasted Buzzard glided back and forth on outspread wings giving us prolonged repeat views.
Tuesday started well with a nice male Crimson Chat just out of the camp site but then got way better at 0830 when I collected Joy from her morning walk, drove 300 metres down the track from the homestead junction, and found a Grey Falcon sitting in the top of a dead tree. It flew as soon as I stopped but I had time to see its slender silver-grey body and then the dark wing tips as it dropped down through the tree tops and disappeared. At about 1630 we think we saw it close to the morning location but it was so shy it flew before we got a good look. (Other birders saw a grey Falcon on Thursday out at Sawpit so it seems that they are moving around the property.)
|Grey Falcon. A little bit of cheating. I took this photo in 2012 at Newhaven in Central Australia|
After that bit of excitement the day’s birding took us first to the airport track, followed by the homestead loop, then south Gumholes for lunch followed by the rough track up the escarpment to look at the view and to find White-browed Treecreepers on the way up, then back to camp. After dinner and bird call, run each night in the shearers quarters by the volunteers, we sat outside for a while looking at the stars and admiring a very small toad that was sitting under the light waiting for insects to fall. Bedtime was 2100 but it felt later, possibly because we had been getting up at 0600 to be birding by 0630. Today we had driven to the southern, eastern, western and northern extremities of Bowra and covered over 75 km, all at speeds of less than 30 kph.
|Juvenile Double-barred Finch|
We started each day with a sunrise walk along the bore-drain behind the camping area. As an area with permanent water it is excellent for close views of the small bush birds. Finches come down to drink as do honeyeaters and parrots. The drain is also full of small fish and frogs, and damselflies and dragonflies flit in the sunlight and hang from the reed stalks. We even found a spectacular green spider whose large black eye flashed golden when the sun reflected from it.
One bird high on the wish list was Bourke's Parrot. We had one fleeting glimpse as a pair took off from the bore drain but we wanted better views. We finally found them on the track out to Sawpit. As we drove out we saw a Bourke's Parrot sitting in the top of a dead tree. I inched the car forward and stopped, then inched some more. Finally, as the bird hadn't flown, we got out and had a proper look. After a few moments it flew to a line of trees where we saw a second bird and the pair then proceeded with courtship feeding as we stood and watched. What a special time, not only had we seen our Bourke's Parrots for the trip but they had allowed us a prolonged visit.
|Bourke's Parrot. The male is on the left|
|Bourke's Parrot showing blue under-wing and vent|
|Female Bourke's Parrot|
Conditions at Bowra are exceptional at the moment with lots of water, and tall grasses going to seed in all the old paddocks. The wattles are coming into flower, as are many of the eucalypts. Budgies are all over the property in small numbers and there are large numbers of Zebra and Plum-headed Finches. We didn't see many honeyeaters but I expect that as more trees flower and the grass seed-heads ripen there will be an explosion of birds. This spring could be an exciting time at Bowra, I might have to see if I can rationalise a return visit (smile).
|Juvenile Crested Bellbird|
|Black-fronted Dotterel in the evening light. So many beautiful birds came into the dam at the campground one could sit in front of the tent all day and not get bored.|
|Very dark phase Brown Falcon|
|Black-faced Woodswallow with grasshopper|
|Brolga practicing his dance steps|
|White-headed (Black-winged) Stilt|
|Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush in the tree|
|Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush as they are normally seen, on the ground and about to walk away|
|Juvenile Hall's Babbler|
|Female Hooded Robin|
|Male Hooded Robin near in the morning sun near the tent|
|Female Red-winged Parrot showing the pale blue on the back|
All images & text © Jenny Spry