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Bowra is closed to visitors during the hot period from 31 October  until 1st March 

For bookings after 1 March, please contact Bowra on (07) 4655 1238 or Peter Crow of Birds Queensland (07) 3398 5118.

April 2009

The TAFE holidays were coming up and Rod Warnock had suggested that I might be interested in a trip to Bowra Station in South West Queensland. It didn’t take too much persuasion and once I had determined to go, my wife also decided it would be a trip not to be missed. We took two days to travel the 1080 kilometres from the Central Coast of NSW. It wasn’t until we got west of Dubbo that the birds started to become noticeably different, with Apostlebirds and many species of Parrot commonly encountered.

Our first night was spent at the Nyngan Camping Ground where, Babblers, Blue Bonnet, Red-winged and Red-rumped Parrot were seen. The following day the Raptors were predominant with heaps of Black Shouldered and Whistling Kites . The highlight however was a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles perched on a branch just off the highway.


On arrival at Bowra we were greeted by some welcoming familiar faces, including Grant, Steve and of course Rod. Also present and residing in the shearer’s quarters were members of the Hunter Bird Observers Club.

Before I continue I should clarify that my passion is bird photography, so I did not attempt to locate and tick birds, but rather search out photographic opportunities.
The property is currently a working Station owned by a wonderful couple, Ian and Julie McLaren. Though it appears that it is about to be purchased by Australian Wildlife Conservancy. The accommodation includes powered and unpowered camp sites, a cottage and shearers quarters. It is a wonderful setting for accommodation as the sites and buildings are adjacent to a billabong that is alive with wildlife.
The station itself is unique because it has been held in the same family for 5 generations. The environmental ly sustainable practices employed from early on have meant that much of the original habitat remains intact. The property’s 14,734 hectares (36,406 acres) contains several rare habitats that support over 200 species of native birds.

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Some of the birds (for me) that I managed to photograph in my 5 day stay were:

Hall's Babbler Black-tailed Native Hen Black-faced Woodswallow
Grey-crowned Babbler Singing Honeyeater White-browed Woodswallow
Chestnut-crowned Babbler Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater Masked Woodswallow
Major Mitchell's Cockatoo Grey-headed Honeyeater Red-capped Robin
Bourke's Parrot Yellow-throated Miner Hooded Robin
Australian Ringneck Diamond Dove Black-shouldered Kite
Mulga Parrot Peaceful Dove Black Kite
Blue Bonnet Sacred Kingfisher Splendid Fairy-wren
Budgerigar Red-backed Kingfisher Zebra Finch
Red Winged Parrot Tree Martin Plum-headed Finch
Yellow-billed Spoonbill Welcome Swallow Crested Bellbird
Royal Spoonbill Black-fronted Dotterel White-plumed Honeyeater
Brolga Brown Treecreeper
Crimson Chat Spotted Bowerbird
Southern Whiteface Red-browed Pardalote

This is by no means a complete list of birds present or seen. For example, the members of the HBOC had a combined bird count of approximately 130 birds during their stay.

It is worth noting that this is also an excellent location to photograph some of the more wide spread species in a natural location. I think I managed to take my best Galah and Crested Pigeon shots to-date at Bowra.
Dirt roads criss-cross the station giving access to the various habitats and favourite bird haunts. All the main roads were easily navigable by our 2 wheel drive car, however a couple of the low lying tracks were still drying out after recent heavy rain and were only suitable for 4 wheel drive vehicles.Ian the owner transverses a large proportion of the property daily and is only too happy to point out likely locations of birds or recent sightings. He alerted us to the location of the Brolgas. Be sure to seek his help as he is only too willing give it. On arrival we were given detailed maps of the property and bird lists by Julie. These listed the most likely locations to find particular birds and the station roads and tracks.
Each day with Rod as our driving force we got out of bed at 06.00 am, had breakfast and hit the road to see what we could find. These early morning photographic forays ended at approx. 0900 am when the light became too harsh. The middle part of the day was spent downloading images etc. Photographic proceedings resumed at about 3.30pm when the light quality improved. After our first day it soon became apparent where to find some of our target species, however to be honest a lot of the images captured such as the Major Mitchell’s cockatoos were purely opportunistic. As we travelled the roads we mainly encountered our photographic opportunities when we left the car behind and travelled a short distance into the bush. At some of these locations the birds were not obvious from the road so it was worth the effort. At a few locations such as the Spotted Bowerbird’s bower near the cottage and the billabong, Rod and I used our hides to get closer to the action, but in the main we simply took what opportunities arose during our travels.
If I have one regret it is that I left it to the last day to explore the area round the station billabong, as it proved to be as good if not better than any of the other sites visited on the station.
This was my first visit to Bowra and I am already planning another, probably in early spring. I will leave it to the experts such as Grant to recommend the best time to visit this wonderful station, if there is a best time. Just know that you will not be disappointed if you want to photograph or see some of the Western species of birds.

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