Budgie-nado Bucket List

This would be any birder’s dream – to see 1000’s of Budgerigars swarming everywhere!

Unfortunately the author/photographer didn’t specify where he saw them other than “Australian Outback” but I find it very interesting that he used Google Earth to locate the waterholes.  You can still use your miles to get to Australia and if you have American AAdvantage then book before 22 March devaluation.

I tried on eBird to find recent reports of huge flocks but there are just too many pins to look at them all.  This is one of my Australian Birding Bucket Lists!

Story & photos are copyrighted so please click here to see them.

I didn’t get the numbers but at least I saw them at Bowra Station!

IMG_8530a IMG_8482a IMG_8456a

How To See 25 Australian Parrot Species In Whirlwind 8 Days From Brisbane

If you have been following this blog for the last couple months you’ve seen how I saw all kinds of parrot species in South-East Queensland. So now let’s string it together and tally up the possible parrots.  Remember, this itinerary only gets you into the habitat where the birds are commonly seen.  There is never a guarantee with wild birds but if you plan well and do your homework on eBird’s Species Maps, you have a very good chance to get them all!

This is sort of the Amazing Race of Birding and designed for people with limited time.  If you can, add one day to each location and a final day in Brisbane before your flight out.  It’s easy to get to Australia with airline miles, then just rent a car and take off!  This trip must be done while Bowra Station is open between the months of March to September.


SEQ Birding



Start in Brisbane.  Pick up your rental car at the airport and drive to Lake Coolmunda.  Stop at the Durikai Watering Hole on the way.  Possible Parrots:



This will be about 7 hours drive so start as early as possible.  Here you can find Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Red-winged Parrots, Blue Bonnet Parrots, Red-rumps, Cockatiels & Little Corellas (already mentioned).  Then add new species:



Make an early start for about 7 hours drive to Stanthorpe.  Here you have a 2nd chance at Turquoise Parrots, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets, Scaly-breasted Lorikeets.  There are several good reserves in this area so I would check eBird first to see where the birds have been seen most recently.



If you haven’t seen King Parrots yet, have lunch at the small cafe near Jolly’s Lookout as King Parrots, Rainbow Lorkeets & Sulphur-crested Cockatoos hang out there.  Then make the 3 hour drive north to Rainbow Beach or Tin Can Bay.  Up here you have another chance at Yellow-tail Black Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets, Galahs & Sulphur-crested Cockatooos.  But the main reason to come here is:

So there you have it – 25 parrot species all in South-east Queensland.  We do occasionally get Swift Parrots up this far as well but that’s a longshot.  They made it to Brisbane in 2014 but not this year.  I do recommend doing 3 days in Coolmunda, 4 in Bowra, 3 in Girraween, 1 or 2 in Tin Can Bay/Rainbow Beach and one final day in Brisbane so try to allow 2 weeks if you can for a more leisurely birding experience!

Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri)

The Major Mitchell’s cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri) also known as Leadbeater’s cockatoo or pink cockatoo, is a medium-sized cockatoo restricted to arid and semi-arid inland areas of Australia.  Regardless of what common name you use, it’s arguably the most beautiful of all the cockatoos and a real joy to see in the wild, especially in flight with the sun backlighting their pink wings.  These photos I took at Bowra Station don’t do it justice!  I noticed they always had a sentinel or two while most of the flock foraged on the ground.

IMG_8755a IMG_8854a IMG_8874a IMG_8965a IMG_8936aDon’t be fooled by all the green on the map, this highly nomadic bird may have a large range but it is really difficult to find them outside of the major birding hotspots such as Bowra Station (blue dot) in Queensland and Eyre Sanctuary in Western Australia.



World Parrot Trust


Birdlife Australia

Birds in Backyards

NSW Environment & Heritage



One bird foraging in a tree.

Enjoying a paddy melon.


Birding Bowra Part 3 – Deeper Into The Property

In this section we will see birds that are found as you leave the Bowra homestead area and turn in the opposite direction of the main road, heading deeper into the property.  Of course it’s pot luck which birds will be there at any given time of year and depending on rainfall.  Most cars can make it about 5km down the road but depending on road conditions you will probably need a 4WD to go further.  Always check with the caretaker before heading out.

Look in dense bushes for Fairy-wrens, Homey-eaters and Crimson Chats.

IMG_8694 IMG_8704a IMG_8702a IMG_8711a

Ground foragers like Cockatiels and Bourke’s Parrots are common here.

IMG_8715 IMG_8699a IMG_8701a IMG_8720a

Major Mitchell Cockatoos often breed in this area.

IMG_8734a IMG_8750a IMG_8755a

Odd looking Noisy Friarbird.


And a close-up of a beautiful Bourkie!


Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus)

The Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) also known as common pet parakeet or shell parakeet and informally nicknamed the budgie, is a small, long-tailed, seed-eating parrot. Budgerigars are the only species in the Australian genus Melopsittacus, and are found wild throughout the drier parts of Australia where the species has survived harsh inland conditions for the last five million years.

I’ve been dreaming of seeing one of those huge flocks with 10,000 birds in it (Budgie-nado anyone?) but at least I got to see them up close at their nesting site at Bowra Station.

IMG_8785a IMG_8530a IMG_8482a IMG_8489aAlthough they have a huge range throughout inland Australia you need to be very lucky to stumble across them in the vast Outback along the main roads.  Some people have been that lucky as you can see in the video below.  In Queensland, Bowra Station is very reliable for budgies, also check eBird for recent sightings as these parrots are very nomadic.




World Parrot Trust


Birds in Backyards

Alice Springs Desert Park


There’s no shortage of Budgie videos online but here’s a couple really good ones.  This one is a whole documentary about the species.

Budgie swarm.

In this video it seems the young wild Budgies have mistaken a windscreen for water and are confused.  I wish that workman had a clue and offered them some water, they look really thirsty.


Birding Bowra Part 2 – Pond & Homestead Area

There are some great places to see birds just a few steps from the shearers cabin at Bowra Station.  Getting up at dawn, bringing a chair outside and watching the birds wake up is very rewarding!


Black-winged Stilts are very common here.


White-breasted Woodswallows


Black-fronted Dotterel


Another stilt


Red-winged Parrot


Rainbow Bee-eater

IMG_8608a IMG_8616a


IMG_8669 IMG_8673 IMG_8676

Red-rumped Parrot

IMG_8683a IMG_8685a

Spotted Bowerbird with Bower

IMG_8792 IMG_8791 IMG_8793a



Paddy Melons – food for hungry parrots


We’ve all seen pet Budgies but nothing beats seeing them in the wild!  They have nests in the trees near the homestead.

IMG_8785a IMG_8781a IMG_8530a

Red-rump Parrot

IMG_8511aDiamond Dove


Red-winged Parrot


More Budgies

IMG_8489a IMG_8482a IMG_8473a IMG_8456a IMG_8440a IMG_8437a

Beautiful Red-winged Parrot posing nicely


Red-rumps are usually in the trees around the pond


Red-winged Parrot (Aprosmictus erythropterus)

The Red-Winged parrot (Aprosmictus erythropterus), is a parrot native to Australia and Papua New Guinea. It is found in grasslands, savannah, farmland, and woodland.

IMG_8396a IMG_0359 IMG_0366They have quite a large range throughout Queensland, Australia and even a small bit of Papua New Guinea.  I found it quite easy to see them at Lake Coolmunda, especially near the caravan park and near the shearer’s quarters at Bowra Station (blue dots).



World Parrot Trust


Birds in Backyards



Wonderful close up of this bird, seems to be a juvenile going by the feathering.

Birding Bowra Part 1 – Road To Homestead Area

Since there are so many places to see birds, I am breaking this down into several parts.  The first area to explore is the part where you first enter Bowra Station at the letterbox and drive the main road to the homestead – about 5 or 6 km.  This is a fantastic area for parrots, as you can see from the photos below we saw many species just in this area such as Cockatiels, Mallee Ringecks, Galahs, Major Mitchell Cockatoos, Mulga Parrots and various Honey-eaters, an Emu and of course lots of kangaroos!  I also saw a Bluebonnet flying away at the speed of light near the gate.IMG_8570a IMG_8582a IMG_8583a IMG_8585a IMG_8561 IMG_8559 IMG_8554a IMG_8549a IMG_8544a IMG_8537 IMG_8834a IMG_8834b IMG_8840a IMG_8842a IMG_8852a IMG_8854a IMG_8870a IMG_8874a IMG_8881a IMG_8902a IMG_8905a IMG_8908a IMG_8911a IMG_8912a IMG_8916a IMG_8924 IMG_8925a IMG_8935a IMG_8936a IMG_8938a IMG_8947 IMG_8965a IMG_8970

Bring boots as sometimes you have to walk through the bush!


Lodge Review: Bowra Station, Queensland

It may be a long drive out here but Bowra Station is well worth it – it’s a birder’s paradise!  Over 200 species of birds have been reported here so try to spend at least 3 days to give yourself a chance to see as many as possible.  I can promise you it will be the highlight of your birding trip to Queensland!

Bowra Sanctuary is open to bird watching visitors from March to October each year.  If you are coming from overseas, you will fly into Brisbane so make sure you are coming at the right time of year.  You should avoid the wet season which is mostly Sept to early March anyways and if the roads flood you won’t be able to get through.

You must book in advance by ringing 07 4655 1238 or email bowravolunteers@gmail.com.  They only have accommodation for 15 people in the shearers quarters and separate cabin if you aren’t prepared to camp.  If Bowra is full and you can’t change your dates, ask the volunteer on duty if you can stay in Cunnamulla and make day visits.  Bring cash as they don’t take credit cards.  You can either prepare your own meals or drive 16 km to Cunnamulla to eat.  I recommend doing your shopping in Brisbane and bringing your own food, maybe go into town for lunch and internet while the birds are resting.

They have a daily bird call around 5pm at the caretaker’s house so be sure to share your sightings for the day!


Birds Queensland

Bowra Wildlife Sanctuary

Australian Wildlife

Outback Australia

Detailed map of Bowra Station

This is the mail box you need to look for.

IMG_8284 IMG_8285a

It was still light when we arrived which was nice as we could enjoy the welcoming committee while driving to the homestead.

IMG_8289 IMG_8302a IMG_8305a IMG_8321a IMG_8336a IMG_8340a IMG_8348a IMG_8357a

The light didn’t last long and we soon got to enjoy the sunset.

IMG_8360 IMG_8361

Homestead where the caretakers live.  Check in here first.


Shearers quarters which has several rooms with twin beds, a fully equipped kitchen and dining room.  The toilets and showers are outside.


IMG_8888 IMG_8889 IMG_8890 IMG_8891

Sorry about the sideways pic, the WordPress photo editor isn’t working.  Since your neck is already getting a work out, why not enjoy this beautiful tree refelcting in the pond just outside the shearers’ quarters!


In future posts, I will go into more detail about the birds as there are sooooo many to cover!


Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea)

The Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea), also known as the bare-eyed cockatoo, blood-stained cockatoo, short-billed corella, little cockatoo and blue-eyed cockatoo, is a white cockatoo native to Australia and southern New Guinea.  It was known as Birdirra among the Yindjibarndi people of the central and western Pilbara.

IMG_0257 IMG_8261a IMG_8802aLittle Corellas are seen just about everywhere, often flocking together with Galahs.  They frequent the park near my house, I can hear them flying overhead most mornings.  They have a huge range in Australia and are found in all capital cities so whichever gateway city you use, you are bound to see them even before you hit the bush!



World Parrot Trust


Birds in Backyards


Some amusing behavior by Little Corellas in this compilation.

Corellas of a feather floch together!