One thing in a wildlife photographers life that is for sure is that no two days of photography are ever the same. One day you can be scratching for shots, the next you get more than you can ever hope to process. It’s strange how sometimes you can drive a track and see absolutely nothing for hours. So, tired of all the dust and rattling your teeth on corrugations, you call it quits and turn round and head back only to come across a completely different situation with animals and birds falling over themselves to pose for your camera.
Since arriving in Australia we have struggled to find spots within a reasonable drive time that I would rate as good wildlife or bird photography locations. If there are birds, they always seem to be the same birds and the diversity and volume is just not there. In Malaysia we had to work hard and sweat it out for a result, but down here it’s definitely a lot harder and you have to travel further to get what you want. Fortunately on a recent foray to Lamington National Park we came across a wildlife videographer and stopped to talk to him. He told us about Bowra, a bird sanctuary near Cunnamulla in western Queensland owned by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy ( www.australianwildlife.org )According to him it offered both a good variety and volume of bush birds. So, taking advantage of the recent long Eater weekend and short working week we decided to drive to Cunnamulla and check it out. It was a long drive, nine hundred odd km’s, but well worth it. The two days we spent in Bowra were very productive. As productive as we have ever had in any single place in Africa where birding and wildlife photography is exceptionally good.
What I is really good about Bowra is the polite, uncomplicated and professional way the volunteers from Birds Queensland manage the sanctuary. I also was very impressed at the way visitors to the sanctuary respect the environment and it’s inhabitants. Having visited hundreds of sanctuaries and parks all over the world over the past thirty years this is a very, very unusual and pleasing situation. I salute the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and Birds Queensland for this. They are doing a really great job.
Getting back to the topic of today’s posting; of all the photos taken at Bowra the ones which please me the most are the ones of various species of Woodswallows that I managed to capture.
Top of the pile has to be a series of shots of a cluster of Little Woodswallows that huddled together on a branch in perfect light. They were not at all unsettled by my gradual approach to within good lens range. In fact I would say they almost seemed happy to be photographed as they busily preened themselves and sometimes the bird next to them, and of course I was more than happy to oblige!
Everyone who follows this blog knows I can’t resist trying to get birds in flight. Bowra delivered in abundance in the form of large flocks of Black Faced Woodswallows that spent the first few early morning hours feeding on high flying insects. What fascinated me about these guys was the fact that they would hover just like kites before swooping down on their prey in a manner similar to that of a Bee Eater. So, they just had to be photographed. Lucky for me we live in the age of digital photography and not in the age of film photography, otherwise the hundreds of frames of junk I took to get these few half decent shots would have bankrupted me!
Not to be outdone Bowra’s White Browed Woodswallows put on an equally pleasing in-flight feeding display with the first photo below really showing the power of modern digital photography as a bird swoops in for the kill on a tiny bug that only the bird and camera could see. Later on in the afternoon a few more good frames of this species were also secured making it altogether a good day of variety of this bird.
Leaving the best for last, one of the top prizes of the two days was a nice series of frames of a perched pair of White Breasted Woodswallows that were absolutely unconcerned that I was just a few meters away below them. I had just set up the camera when one of the birds ducked off and came back with an insect which it then offered to the other. I couldn’t have timed it better and managed to get a good sequence of frames of the interaction. It was very, very pleasing knowing that whatever happened next I had some great shots in the bag.
What else can I say…Bowra…absolutely a top spot for Woodswallows and a host of other birds still to grace this blog. Stay tuned!!!