Saturday, March 23, 2013


Still travelling east our next destination was Barrraba in central north NSW. Near Cobbadah we camped  beside Rocky Creek, part of an ancient glacial area that is promoted as a geological wonder by the local authorities.

Rocky Creek

My main interest though was finding birds and after arriving in Barraba it didn't take long to find some nice ones including this bittern. It had flushed from along a creek line, as I walked along one of the bird routes the area is known for. Only my second view of this elusive species and a quite uncommon member of the heron family. 

Black Bittern

The area is also well known for the endangered Regent Honeyeater, which breeds here in the right season.  There was very little flowering and the birds had probably moved on to warmer and more productive climes. We did catch up with these unique birds later in the year as I reported in a previous post here:

It got a bit chilly while free camping at Barraba, with the overnight temperature dropping to -4 degrees celsius. Sitting around a small campfire while sipping port and toasting marshmallows was one way to keep warm!

 While driving the dirt road into Cranky Rock Nature Reserve near Warialda, we noticed some movement  a way off and pulled up to observe this harrier drifting across the grasslands. A beautiful raptor and one of the easier ones to identify with its distinctive barred tail, white spotted chestnut underside and v-shaped wings when soaring. 

Spotted harrier

The reserve's name was derived from a 19th century legend where an old "cranky Chinese man" jumped from the top of the balancing rocks to his death, after being chased by police for a crime he'd apparently committed.  

Cranky Rock

At the nearby camping reserve we were treated to the sight of some pretty parrots that had flown in to feed on some fresh seed courtesy of the caretakers.

Red-rumped Parrot - male

Red-rumped Parrot - female

A not so wild bird was strutting around the grounds and although he wasn't the showy type, failing to fan his magnificent tail, we could still appreciate the intricate patterns and contrasting colours on display.

Indian Peafowl - male

Cheers & Happy Birding

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Travelling east from Brewarrina, over the next couple of weeks we visited various areas while enjoying the spectacular winter weather. These honeyeaters were basking in the sun next to our van at Lightning Ridge.

Blue-faced Honeyeaters

As were this pair of swallows on our washing line, while staying near the farming community of Burren Junction. 
This small town is renowned in the Aussie birding world as the temporary home of a vagrant wader from Asia in 2006, a Grey-Headed Lapwing. I twitched it with three friends, along with probably hundreds of others in the four months it stayed. This record was a first for Australia and possibly the Southern Hemisphere.

Welcome Swallows 

Nothing quite as exciting this time around, although the sunsets were quite impressive.

Sunset at Burren Junction

It also boasts a top free camping site and bore baths with hot water direct from the Great Artesian Basin. Very nice on a cool winters day!

From Narrabri we explored the nearby Nandewar Ranges, the remnants of an ancient basaltic shield volcano, with Mt Kaputar being the highest point.

Red Wattlebird

Mt Kaputar- 1508 metres 

Australian Raven

One of the more spectacular sights was the forty metre high Sawn Rocks, a wall of pentagonal basalt pipes, the remains of a lava flow from the old volcano.

Sawn Rocks

Looking for raptors

The canola crops were flowering under the winter sun and made for a colourful foreground to the rugged ranges.

Nandewar Ranges

Cheers & Happy Birding

Monday, March 18, 2013


After our stay at Gundabooka it was off to Brewarrina, where we found a camp site next to the Barwon River about six kilometres from town. It was a lovely spot with the constant sounds of a variety of birds always evident in the background.

Restless Flycatcher

This flycatcher lived up to its name, constantly flitting over the water, snapping up insects in mid-air.

Restless Flycatcher

Stalking along the banks of the river was one of our larger species of water birds, along with a couple of others of the same family, all intent on a spot of fishing.

White-necked Heron

White-necked Heron, Great Egret & White-faced Heron

A soft trilling call in the trees near our van alerted me to the movements of this White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike. It was a dark phase bird, the first time I had seen this form of a species I don't often find, probably because of its quiet and unassuming nature.   

White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike 

Barwon River at sunset

In the waning light of the setting sun I was able to capture this kingfisher watching for that last bit of tucker before retiring for the evening.

Sacred Kingfisher

Large flocks of Cockatiels (or Quarrions, derived from the Aboriginal - guwarrayin) were ever present in the nearby croplands. I love seeing these elegant and smallest members of the cockatoo family wheeling through the air, with their plaintive calls of "weero" accompanying every flight.



The bird list for our camp site and the close surrounding area came to about fifty species including Barking Owl, which we heard but failed to locate.

Cheers & Happy Birding

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


We headed south from Bowra into north west NSW, staying in Bourke for a couple of days where a few town birds graced us with their presence while we were in the local van park.


Crested Pigeons

Little Crows

It was only another seventy kilometres to Gundabooka National Park, but the last twenty took us over an hour with the road in from the highway being pretty churned up from recent rain, even though it had dried up.  

  Dry Tank Campground and Mt Gunderbooka

Not long after setting up camp we had an unwelcome visitor snooping around the site.

Red Fox

Being winter and with the probable limited availability of food, this particular animal was scavenging and hunting (we observed it pouncing on grasshoppers) in broad daylight. Even with its terrible reputation it was still a beautiful looking specimen.  

This visitor was one we missed at Bowra, although we did see and photograph a bower there. We noticed a leg band and assumed it may have been the subject of some scientific study.

Spotted Bowerbird

A five kilometre return hike along the well graded track to the Mt Gunderbooka lookout gave us some good birding, including a sun-bathing member of the nightjar family. 

Australian Owlet-Nightjar

White-browed Treecreeper

On our walk we noticed a few of these small earthen craters with tunnels branching off underground. A cooling tower for an ants nest was the most obvious possibility, but the ants were nowhere to be seen.

The National Park gazetted in 1996, is named after the former pastoral station, a slight variation on the name of the mountain range within it's boundaries.  

Gunderbooka Range 

Cheers & Happy Birding

Saturday, March 9, 2013


All up during our five day stay at Bowra we saw nearly 80 species of birds, the most conspicuous being the smaller bush birds. Some were easier to photograph than others, but my main aim when birding is to observe and enjoy the experience as a whole and if I get a decent image that's a bonus. 

Jacky Winter

Rufous Songlark

Zebra Finch

I still like to add new birds to my life list though, and did when I found a small group of Hall's Babblers in the thick Mulga scrub about 8 km from the Homestead, pishing one inquisitive bird in for a good look at it's identifying features. It didn't hang around for a photo though and was quickly flying and bouncing off with rest of the mob.    

Diamond Dove

Splendid Fairy-wren - female

A bird I failed to find even after some diligent searching around a known area for them was the Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush, a cryptically patterned ground bird that obviously blends in well with it's preferred habitat.

Stony Ridge - spot the Quail-thrush!

While walking along looking for the elusive Quail-thrush I nearly bumped into the massive web of this  large spider. The females can measure up to 45mm in body length and the male a puny 6mm. 

 Orb Weaver

The image below along with the Brolgas in my previous post is a favourite, primarily because I very rarely snaffle three or more birds in one frame unless it's a distant flock of waders or such.  

Hooded Robins - 2 males and a female

Red-capped Robin

Bowra is renowned for its birds of prey and we saw seven varieties there. The bird list has 19 raptor species including Grey Falcon (seen on our previous visit) and Black Falcon, one that still eludes me and my official bogey bird.    

Brown Falcon

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-breasted Buzzard

Black-breasted Buzzard

Bowra Sanctuary is managed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, an organization that owns 23 sanctuaries across Australia and well worth supporting. 

Bourke's Parrot

Cheers & Happy Birding