Friday, 1 April 2016


A Major Mitchell's Cockatoo Lophochroa leadbeater flies over Bowra at sunrise

Last week I was at Bowra wildlife sanctuary in the Mulga lands of southern Queensland, which is owned and maintained by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. The land was previously run as a cattle station (ranch), but there are large stands of natural vegetation, particularly of the rocky Mulga woodland on the low stony ridges, Gidgee woodland on the plain and long lines of River Red Gum and Coolabah trees along the watercourses. The sanctuary is several kilometres north west of Cunnamulla and has an excellent campsite and cottage accommodation around the old homestead. Numerous rough vehicle tracks wind around and through the the various habitats giving easy access for walking through the bush to look for wildlife.

Sunrise is the best time to look for wildlife as the animals are most active before the mid-day heat 

I was there helping with a co-operative bird-banding (ringing) study organised by John Coleman from Brisbane. This was the fifth year of the project and by setting nets at the same places each year we will gradually build up a picture of the various bird species' use of the different habitats and their demography. But more of that in a later post.

The old cattle run country of Gidgee woodland - sparse mulga trees and bushes. These plains flood after heavy rains and  grasses and herbs then cover the now bare earth.

The largest and most obvious animal in the plains is the Red Kangaroo, the largest macropod, and I saw three other species, the  Common Wallaroo, Western Grey Kangaroo and Swamp Wallaby. Emus were also abundant, with some birds leading parties of up to five juveniles. Unfortunately there are stray cattle about, as well as herds of feral goats. It is not easy to control these non-native species, but the habitats were in good condition overall.

Red Kangaroos Macropus rufus (only the large dominant males are truly red). Note the large ears for keeping cool

Most animal species were reptiles such as the gecko I found on the entrance gate when I arrived, the carpet python that was high in the canopy above our tents and the numerous small lizards. My main focus was on birds this trip, so I didn't have much time to identify most of the reptiles, although I grabbed a few pictures of a skink lurking under tree bark. It seemed to be hiding there, waiting for passing prey.

A Ragged Snake-eyed Skink Cryptoblopherus pannosus hides under the bark of a Gidgee tree. 

There are several pools of standing water scattered around the sanctuary and in an arid country, that is a big draw for wildlife. I saw Pied Cormorants, a Darter and a White-necked heron fishing in the larger waterways.

Gumholes Creek - standing water lined with ancient River Red Gums

There is an artificial waterhole in the middle of the camping ground, large enough to attract a Black Swan while I was there, as well as Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Red-necked Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Masked Lapwings and Black-fronted Dotterel.

A Yellow-billed Spoonbill Platalea flavipes and two Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus
in the campsite waterhole

Another water site was the campsite toilet block, a great favourite of the Desert Tree Frog, with occasional visits from Green Tree Frogs and I would expect snakes looking for frogs, although I never I met any snakes there on my visits.

Night-time is best for looking for frogs in the dunny

As the sign in the loo states, don't mind the frogs they will survive the flush.

A Desert Tree Frog Litoria rubella in the loo

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