Birds and frogs of Bowra Sanctuary

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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 2012 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.

Australian bustard

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

Margarita Steinhardt

Margarita Steinhardt

Margarita Steinhardt is a wildlife ecologist by training but more of a naturalist by inclination. She has graduated with Master of Wildlife Conservation degree from Macquarie University in Sydney and is currently based in Australia. Margarita has been photographing wildlife for a number of years, throughout her work and travels in Thailand, India, Africa, and Russia, as well as Australia. What drives Margarita is the excitement of a new destination and new species to be found and photographed there.

Margarita Steinhardt

Margarita Steinhardt

Margarita Steinhardt is a wildlife ecologist by training but more of a naturalist by inclination. She has graduated with Master of Wildlife Conservation degree from Macquarie University in Sydney and is currently based in Australia. Margarita has been photographing wildlife for a number of years, throughout her work and travels in Thailand, India, Africa, and Russia, as well as Australia. What drives Margarita is the excitement of a new destination and new species to be found and photographed there.

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