Cowra, Central Western Slopes, NSW

Tue 19 March 2024 12:00am

Bill Graham

Cowra is 185 kms north of Canberra. Sites will include Barryrennie Road, Conimbla National Park, Cowra Sewage Treatment Plant, Wyangala Dam and Cowra Japanese Garden. Target species include Black-chinned Honeyeater, Chestnut-rumped and Inland Thornbills, Turquoise Parrot and Ground Cuckooshrike. We plan to stay at Cowra Caravan Park ph 02 6342 1627. There are cabins available, as well as sites for tents, camper trailers, caravans, etc. Numbers limited. To register for this trip and further information, please contact Bill Graham at

Please register asap as accommodation may be in high demand and bookings will need to be made very soon.  Do not book accommodation until your registration is confirmed.


Post event report

Participants were asked to contribute short paragraphs for inclusion in the trip report. I’ve attached two of these at the end of the report.

Most of us stayed at the Cowra Caravan Park on the banks of the Lachlan River. On the first morning we set off to Barryrennie Road and the Conimbla National Park. Numerous stops along the way got our bird lists off to a great start, with Eastern Shrike-tits, White-necked Herons, Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Restless Flycatcher and Grey-crowned Babblers among the birds seen or heard, with a lucky few also scoring a Diamond Dove and a small group of White-throated Needletails.  In the afternoon we made our way to the Sewage Works where we had escorted access to the older ponds where six species of ducks, various egrets and other waterbirds kept us busy.  The local council representative who accompanied us explained that he is looking for ways to safely increase public access to the site.  Our final visit was to the Common, where we were greeted by Rainbow Bee-eaters, and the mystery bird referred to in Muriel’s paragraph at the end of this report.  The undoubted highlight, as described by Muriel, was the procession of Brown Quail across the track just in front of us – the birds emerged from a small fenced area around a historic hut and the final two were half-grown very cute individuals; for many, a best ever sighting of the species.

The following morning we set off for Wyangala Dam. The morning was cool and quite windy, and after a brief stop at Darby Falls Reserve we arrived at the picnic area below the dam wall and wandered along the river track, where the highlight was a pair of Golden Whistlers. We proceeded on to the Holiday Park, which offers some great views over the huge dam, which was interesting but not very birdy.  The next stop was the Hailstones TSR, where we had good views of Blue-faced Honeyeaters.  After a few more brief stops, we made our way back to Cowra, with several of us managing to see a Spotted Harrier sweeping low over the paddocks and finally disappearing into the grass.

Late that evening, Ralph and Bill saw the Barking Owl at the river next to the caravan park, but unfortunately the rest of us missed out on this one.

On our last morning we enjoyed a wander along a track at Koorawatha Weir, after a slightly tricky drive in.  Only two of the party were fortunate enough to spot a Turquoise Parrot, which disappeared before the rest of us had caught up. Pied Butcherbirds were seen and heard, and a group of Varied Sittellas caught our attention. Our final stop was at the Morongla Cemetery, where we had excellent views of Grey-crowned Babblers.  We had initially thought the babblers were in a separate reserve, but the local council assures me the site is part of the cemetery footprint.

Sandra Henderson


This trip shows how well a trip can run almost entirely using e-Bird hotspots to see new locations that most have never been to before. A huge thank you to Bill Graham for going the extra mile of doing a pre-trip reconnaissance a couple of weeks earlier. Going to entirely new places works when a trip leader is agile and birders are happy to try out each hotspot (even when unexpectedly cold and windy) for about half an hour to an hour, but are also flexible in being willing to move on to the next location if the birds are quiet. As a beginner, attending a COG trip is such a privilege, to learn from the expertise of the experienced birders and see the birds in different habitats, and share in the joy of discovering new places and finding birds like Blue-faced Honeyeaters. (Judi)

Cowra’s Common is perched on a low hill behind the Japanese Garden. Next to farm paddocks, it’s an altered landscape of rough, mown grass, large granite boulders, scattered remnant eucalypts and planted native shrubs. Although it doesn’t promise exciting birding it does give us three memorable sightings like the many low-zooming, hawking Rainbow Bee-eaters that surround us on our arrival. They’re iridescent in the afternoon sun. Memorable for the unexpected difficulty it gives us is a medium-small bird sitting obligingly still on a fence. As we later discover, this behaviour doesn’t help identify a bird which some of us associate with its breeding season behaviour of calling constantly while flying back and forth between perches. We finally nail it as a Rufous Songlark at dinner after Ben has had time to study his photos and apply some technology. The third surprise comes as we approach some scrub next to a small fenced enclosure. Spotting something, Ralph signals us to halt and what follows is the hesitant appearance of a Brown Quail which dashes from enclosure to scrub. As we start to move on another quail emerges and nervously pokes towards the scrub. Then another. And another. About fourteen in all. Definitely a highlight. (Muriel)

Back to Past Events