I went on holidays with my partner Matt and his mum, Janet. Despite the heavy birding element it wasn’t supposed to be a purely birding trip (but I am beginning to wonder how long I can keep dragging that tired old chestnut out in trip reports). In general we had a good time, although Janet had a fall and we had a few small car issues (because it was a rental car). Of course the birds were fantastic, and a highlight of the trip. Even for Janet the birds at Yellow Waters and Fogg Dam were utterly spectacular, and she was very impressed with the Red Goshawk. Plant-wise it was very interesting for me, as I could actually see a lot of plants I had identified before but only seen as dried, pressed material. Although many plants weren’t in flower, Darwin Woollybutt (Eucalyptus miniata), which was just starting to flower, Scarlet Gum (Eucalyptus phoenicea), Grevillea dryandroides, Kapok Bush (Cochlospermum fraseri) and especially the widespread Turkey Bush (Calytrix exstipulata) were all showy. Butterflies were abundant in some areas and larger obvious species included Black and White Tiger (Danaus affinis) and Orange Lacewing (Cethosia penthesilea). Mammals seen included Black Wallaroo, Short-eared Rock Wallaby and Agile Wallaby. Aside from the flora and fauna, the rock art in Kakadu was impressive. The scenery was spectacular, notably in Kakadu, Nitmiluk and Gregory National Parks, and we swam in some pretty awe-inspiring locations.
Thanks to Harvey Perkins, Dave Hair, Clive Garland, Rebecca Vere, Tim Dolby, Graham Turner, Giles Daubeney, Peter Kyne, and Alana Dare who gave me information; and to Alistair Poore, who in addition to providing advice, leant me his copy of McCrie & Watson’s “Finding birds in Darwin, Kakadu and the Top End”, now retuned in a slightly more battered condition than when I borrowed it, I am embarrassed to say.
All up I saw 170 species, including 33 lifers for the trip (underlined in text below) and another 3 which were only heard.
28/6: Fly from Sydney to Darwin, some birding around Esplanade.
29:6 Darwin birding at Buffalo Ck, Darwin Botanic Gardens (am), Esplanade and East Point (pm). Sunset and food at Mindil Beach markets – not to be missed.
30:6 Early am birding around Tiger Brennan Drive, then on to Fogg Dam, brief stop at Adelaide River Bridge, lunch at Mary River Crossing, then on to Kakadu. Afternoon walk at Gungarre, check in to hotel at Jabiru and walk from Jabiru to Bowali Visitor centre.
1/7: Early am birding at Mamukala, return to Jabiru to pick up others then off to Bardedjilidji, check out rock art at Ubirr at Midday, return to hotel for lunch/early afternoon, then back to east Alligator area with Manngarre Walk, and Ubir at Sunset.
2/7: Earlyish start at Nourlangie, then Naguluwur before lunch and unexpected stop at Jabiru Medical Centre. Somewhat guilt-ridden lone walk to Gubara Pools later afternoon, with brief birding at Anbangbang Billabong at Sunset.
3/7: Drive down to Cooinda area, with Yellow Waters cruise and short boardwalk in morning, and Mardugal Billabong walk before returning for lunch. Walk from Jabiru to Bowali Visitor centre in late afternoon.
4/7: Depart Jabiru and drive to Gunlom with brief stops at Mardugal Billabong boat ramp and Bukbukluk Lookout en route. After lunch, swim and birding at Gunlom, drive on to Katherine with stop at Fergusson River. Birding at Chinaman Ck after checking into motel at Katherine.
5/7: Morning walk at Katherine Gorge, trip out to Edith Falls after lunch with birding along Edith Falls Rd. Evening cruise on Katherine River downstream from town.
6/7: Dawn/Early morning birding at Chainman and Chinaman Creeks, then drive to Mataranka area. Lunch and swim at Bitter Springs with birding nearby, then swim at Mataranka followed by short Botanical Walk.
7/7: Depart Katherine on Victoria Highway, with stops at Humbles Creek on Buntine highway, and at Campbell Springs. Lunch at Victoria River Crossing with brief (unsuccessful) birding at bridge and nearby river access, then drive to Timber Creek. Check out Timber Creek lookouts, then late afternoon birding at Timber Creek Airfield and Policeman’s Point. Overnight at Timber Creek.
8/7: Early Morning birding at Policeman’s Point followed by birding along Bullita Rd. Depart Timber Creek with lunch at Jasper Gorge along Buchanan Highway en route to Victoria River Crossing. Afternoon birding at river access and briefly at Escarpment Walk.
9/7: Walked Full Escarpment Walk, and then depart for Katherine to pick up food & spare tyre (unsuccessful). Drive on to Burrell Creek.
10/7: Full day at Burrell Creek with birding and plant collecting.
11/7: Depart after breakfast for Litchfield National Park, visiting Wangi Falls and Florence Falls, stopping for lunch at picnic area above Florence Falls. Depart for Darwin (and pick up tyre at Darwin – what a relief).
12/7: Early am birding at Buffalo Creek. Depart for Sydney early afternoon.
Hire car fun
We hired a 4WD; not in order to go off road as such just to go down some distance on dirt roads. Such roads are often (although not always) passable with a 2WD but hire car companies won’t let you so we bit the bullet and paid extra for a 4WD. We didn’t pay the optional extra cost to reduce the excess from the ridiculously high charge applied to a 4WD (although I always do when hiring a car) because Janet was insistent that her travel insurance would cover such if we needed it. We (well I) scraped the car in a car park one day, had one windscreen chip the next, and then a second windscreen chip the day after that.
We managed to go fine for most of the trip after that and then, when we were in one of the remoter parts of the schedule (about 30km down the Buchanan Hwy), we had a flat. No drama there, just change the tyre, which we did quickly enough. However, we were then left with the uncomfortable realisation that we would probably be in Katherine before we could get another spare. I breathed a sigh of relief when we made it to Katherine without another flat, only to find out that it couldn’t be repaired (too big a puncture) and that they didn’t carry the correct size tyre. So instead of waiting for another day in Katherine we ended up replacing the tyre finally as we pulled into Darwin, about 700km of driving without a functional spare, which put a bit of an edge on things at times.
If you are hiring check to see if it has unlimited km or charges 100km per day as ours did, we ended up doing 3155km, 1755 more than our allowance. Although reasonably priced this did add another 440 or more dollars on to the total price. On the up side, despite having to do lots of side trips and thereby adding up the km, the petrol was reasonably priced and we did the whole lot for under $400 worth of petrol.
A few points of interest
I used McCrie & Watson’s “Finding birds in Darwin, Kakadu and the Top End” as a site guide, and I visited many of their sites, as would be evident from reading this report. A glance through the report shows some site accounts being longer than others, logically because there were more birds at some than others (actually I even visited some which were are not written up because birds were so sparing at these that I didn’t note any).
There are several reasons behind this. One is that some sites were visited during the middle part of the day when bird activity was lower. There are only so many places you can visit and some had to be done on transit, so visiting at sub-optimal times was, in this sense, unavoidable. Even on a birding-specific trip this is the case to an extent although one would try best to minimise birding in the heat of the day. Another reason for lack of birds was wind; on most days the wind was strong through the middle of the day and into the afternoon. In fact on some days, notably throughout our visit in the Victoria River region, it blew from early morning throughout the day and night, so no matter what time you went it was windy (I am sure Policeman’s Point would have been more productive with less wind). Chainman Creek, for which I didn’t even note a single bird, was the most abysmal of sites visited (at sunrise). Admittedly I left to go to Chinaman Creek and possibly if I had waited more birds would have shown themselves; it was a cool morning and perhaps it was just a bit too cold (by NT bird standards) for any activity?
Some of the sites for which I have the longest lists only have moderately short entries. That’s because I don’t want to list every bird, and the volume of birds in such cases was too much to comment in detail (and perhaps a little overwhelming).
Several sites for Hooded Parrot and various finches were based upon areas where these drink, some sites and species throughout the day but others at particular times of the day, usually morning but sometimes afternoon as well. I do not know whether the amount of water left after the Wet this year was unusually high, but there seemed to be quite a bit of water in some of these streams, and birds were perhaps spoilt for choice for drinking pools? Some of these I visited clearly at the wrong time of day, but at others, like Chinaman Creek, I visited both around dawn and at sunset, and still saw no birds drinking.
Additionally, a number of sites where I had hoped to find certain honeyeaters in paperbarks generally lacked these; at such sites some species were present but not the target ones, and no doubt this was because the paperbarks were not flowering at these sites. This is not a fault of the book, just a mere note to suggest that it pays to take site expectations with food and resource availability (flowering, fruiting, water etc.) in mind.
Overall I adopted the strategy of trying to cover a broad range of habitats, and trying to include multiple sites for each target species. Perhaps a strategy of looking at fewer sites for longer time periods/multiple visits may have resulted in better site success, although this may have resulted in being unable to look for certain species.
Several sources commented on mosquitoes being a problem at some places. Other than Buffalo Creek (at dawn) and Mamukala (also at dawn), I don’t remember being bitten at all. Fogg Dam may have been bad, but this was one of the few places where I remembered to apply insect repellent. Even when I was bitten, I was generally too excited to notice much.
On a completely different note, be prepared when parking your car in Darwin for narrow car parking places. This was made all too horribly apparent on the second morning in Darwin as I headed out for Tiger Brennan Drive pre-dawn, and heard the sickening scraping sound as I backed the car out next to a concrete pillar in the car park.
I saw some of the first birds of the trip on the edges of the car park at the airport, with White-throated Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater and my first lifer of the trip, Silver-crowned Friarbird. On the drive into the city I added the first Straw-necked Ibis (far more the urban ibis for Darwin than White Ibis, our abundant urban species in Sydney), Figbird, Pied Imperial-Pigeon and the first of many (hundreds?) Black Kites. Even in the car park of the hotel I added another new species, White-gaped Honeyeater, another widespread bird of the trip. Driving through Darwin at other times added more Brahminy Kites and a Collared Sparrowhawk. A short drive down to Stokes Hill Wharf added one of only two Pheasant Coucals for the trip, in grass in a car park, and 3 Black-naped Terns. These were the only terns I actually saw in Darwin Harbour although I didn’t really look much, so I was surprised to see that these were quite rare in the area. The last bird seen for the trip was an Australian Pratincole, seen on grass on the airfield as the plane taxied for take off.
The parkland adjacent to Darwin Esplanade, with scattered trees and nearby fringing scrub, actually had a good spread of species and I visited here on each of the first two days. Darwin’s common urban birds were here, such as Straw-necked Ibis, Rainbow Bee-eater, Bar-shouldered Dove, Peaceful Dove, Pied Imperial-Pigeon, Forest Kingfisher, Double-barred Finch, White-gaped Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, Rufous-banded Honeyeater (just to name a selection). Orange-footed Scrubfowl are particularly common and approachable here, and indeed on the return through Darwin we stayed across the road and they were wandering through the car park. A few brief views down to the harbour showed up a single dark-morph Eastern Reef Egret but no more terns.
I visited Buffalo Creek twice, on either end of the trip, both times at sunrise, and one on a falling to low tide and one an hour after low. Although the tide and times were good to best, the disadvantage was that both were on weekend mornings in school holidays and were subsequently busy with a constant train of people either launching boats or queuing to launch. Maybe this contributed to why I saw no Chestnut Rail after an hour of scanning from the ramp the first time and 40 minutes or so the second. Actually although I stayed more or less around the ramp area on the first occasion and searched wider on the second, there seemed to be more bird activity on the first. The highlight was two Great-billed Herons, one upstream and one downstream, on the first morning. On the first visit I was paranoid about having my car broken into I didn’t want to walk too far from it, but I managed to see plenty of Red-headed Honeyeaters, Yellow White-eyes and several Green-backed Gerygones, all new for me. There were plenty of other birds around including showy and noisy Lemon-bellied Flycatchers, Spangled Drongo, Yellow Oriole, flocks of Pied Imperial-Pigeons and a flock of Rainbow Bee-eater, presumably leaving their roost. I caught a brief glimpse of my first Shining Flycatcher for the trip, and managed to hear Rainbow Pitta without seeing it. Also of interest were migrant waders, with 2 Greenshanks flying past. A huge flock of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos were wheeling over Lee Point Rd on approach and on return I saw my first Blue-winged Kookaburras for the trip.
On my last morning of the trip I returned to Buffalo Creek for the second visit. I parked the car in the paid compound so I could feel free to wander a bit further (I was there over an hour but the guy who looked after it let me stay for free). No Chestnut Rail and bird numbers were down but plenty of the same species around. I tried to walk the track which runs from this car park parallel to Buffalo Ck Rd until it hits the road at a bend, but could only see where to enter the track from the road end. I may have been wandering on the track but I suspect that I was starting to wander down the creek bed so gave up and returned. No Mangrove Golden Whistler here (the hoped-for target). I did see Emerald Dove, albeit briefly in flight (I only heard this on the first visit) and added Common Sandpiper, Crested Tern and Collared Kingfisher to the list on this visit. Of course I’ll have to revisit this spot to give the elusive Chestnut Rail another chance.
Darwin Botanic Gardens
I visited here partially out of curiosity just to see the gardens and partly to see the Rufous Owl. The owl had been recently seen in the upper garden, in the rainforest area, but on a closed service track. If I had been on my own I may have crossed the “track closed” sign but conscience and a sense of time running out got the better of me. I had hoped to maybe look for this bird at the end of the trip but gave this a miss on the last morning to opt for visiting Buffalo Ck again instead. Although we were there at late morning through to midday, and it was hot, we still saw quite a few birds. Nice views of Varied Triller, Green-backed Gerygone, Yellow Oriole, Forest Kingfisher and the ever-present Black Kite, among others
Matt and Janet had heard that East Point was one of the best places to take sunset photos in Darwin so a late afternoon visit worked well for all of us. I was dropped of at the head of the track into the monsoon forest. Actually the track system is much more extensive than that indicated in the edition of McCrie and Watson which I was using, and continues on past the clearings under the power lines (the tracks left and right as indicated in the book). Since I wanted to also check out the mangrove boardwalk I only did part of the loop track and doubled back. The track is narrow in parts and I was nearly wiped out by some rather gung-ho mountain bike riders. Highlights from the monsoon forest section of the track included Grey Whistler, Little Shrike Thrush, the first Northern Fantails for the trip and a single Arafura Fantail.
I’d given myself a deadline to met Matt and Janet so headed back quickly down the road to the first car park where the track into the mangroves left off. This was fairly disappointing for mangrove birds and was very quiet even though it was almost sunset when I ended up back at the car park. Although I did see some of the mangrove specialists seen earlier, I didn’t see the prime target of Mangrove Grey Fantail. This is one place that I would visit on a return trip to Darwin, target species aside, because I would like to investigate the trail system further (and check out the mangrove walk closer to dawn).
Listed as Tiger Brennan Dve in McCrie & Watson, this site included a couple of spots. I did the walk along Stoddart Dve and Bayview Bvde (Off Tiger Brennan Dve), and it was certainly easy walking. The birds were very noisy here, but although I saw a few Red-headed Honeyeaters and Helmeted Friarbirds, the noise was coming mostly from bats (Little Red Flying-foxes), Brown Honeyeaters, and a huge flock of Little Corellas (hundreds). Equally numerous were the many Pied Imperial-Pigeons, presumably flying out from roost. After walking to one end and back, I doubled back onto Tiger Brennan Dve where I pulled aside and walked along the short track to the pylon. I looked down the small track in the mud which followed on from there with a mixture of longing (hoping for the elusive Mangrove Grey Fantail) and fear (crocs); of course the fear won. I pished and squeaked at the pylon and I was surprised by two Mangrove Gerygones. After walking back and forth along the track I returned to the pylon and glimpsed a Mangrove Robin through the thick growth. It dropped down and into the open giving better views, and was soon joined by another. I watched these for some time til they disappeared; they are such stunning birds even though they are quite plain in colour.
Fogg Dam to Kakadu
Fogg Dam turned out to be excellent, with 44 species recorded for the dam area. It was getting pretty warm by the time we arrived and I was itching to get started on the walk, picking the southern Woodlands to Waterlilies walk. Along the walk we saw quite a few Grey Whistlers and Lemon-bellied Flycatchers, a Shining Flycatcher, the ever-present Forest Kingfishers, and plenty of Rufous-banded Honeyeaters but no hoped-for Broad-billed Flycatcher or Rainbow Pitta. We returned to the car park and planned to drive out onto the dam wall, and I decided to investigate the adjacent paperbarks since I could hear a flycatcher calling. Soon I got good looks at a Broad-billed Flycatcher, followed by several more, all in the paperbarks near the start of the dam wall. Over the course of the trip I saw this species a few times elsewhere, and male and female Leaden Flycatchers too, but I did see ones which I just couldn’t get a good enough look at to tell the difference. The bill shape is obviously broader in the former species as the name suggests, and many birds were perched overhead thus giving diagnostic views of this feature.
We stopped at a number of places along the dam wall, and at the viewing platform at the end, and had good views of many birds. Although diversity and abundance are probably higher later in the Dry, the spectacle of birds was still very impressive. Large numbers of Egrets (mostly Intermediate but some Great) and a lot of Pied Herons were feeding in the flooded grass, and Magpie Geese were nearby. Quite a few Comb-crested Jacanas were feeding here also. Other than the Magpie Geese, waterfowl diversity was low, with a few Green Pygmy Geese and a few groups of Wandering Whistling Ducks. There were plenty of Straw-necked and White Ibis, and a couple of Royal Spoonbills, lots of Little Pied Cormorants and a group of Little Black Cormorants (only site for the trip for these also). Masked Lapwings were on the drier grass along with 2 Australian Pratincoles, and a Black-necked Stork flew in to complete the scene.
On the road out to Fogg Dam (Anzac Pde), Red-backed Kingfisher sat on the powerlines and the first Black-faced Woodswallows of the trip appeared. We drove on to Adelaide River Bridge, where I stopped for only a short while. I heard the Mangrove Golden Whistler but couldn’t see it, in the small enclosure (locked) to the north of the bridge. We drove onwards and pulled aside for lunch at the Mary River, which was much drier, but pleasantly uncrowded. A few of the more common birds were here including Whistling Kite, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo and Bue-winged Kookaburra.
Kakadu National Park
Our first walk in the park, this track leads through monsoon forest woodland and past a billabong – it was a good walk but would have been better done earlier in the day (or perhaps later). It was still relatively early in the afternoon when we started so not much activity at first as the track wound through monsoon forest but at least it was much cooler than in the open, and there were plenty of butterflies. Bird activity picked up as we went along, and we began to see some such as Grey Whistler, Northern Fantail, Varied Triller and Little Shrike Thrush, while others remain hidden whilst calling such as Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove and Rainbow Pitta. As the track passed into more open woodland other birds appeared such as Rufous Whistler, Leaden Flycatcher, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Rufous-banded Honeyeater and Restless Flycatcher in the paperbarks. The Billabong held few birds but did have a few Green Pygmy Geese and a single Radjah Shelduck, along with various egrets and Little Pied Cormorants.
A visit at dawn here was very productive. I could have spent more time but had to return to meet Matt and Janet so as to get to Bardedjilidji before most of the morning disappeared, nevertheless I saw a lot in the time allotted. Rufous-banded Honeyeaters were chasing each other in the car park. Around the hide close to the car park I saw Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, a pair of Little Bronze Cuckoos (heard these already at Fogg Dam and the Esplanade) and a few Masked Finches in grass around the hide. Waterbirds were around but many were distant, and diversity and numbers were lower than at Fogg Dam; apparently this site is better for waterbirds later in the Dry. Green Pygmy Goose, Wandering Whistling Duck, a few Great Egrets and Comb-crested Jacana were present, along with the more numerous and seemingly ever-present Little Pied Cormorant and Intermediate Egret. Many more birds were found along the main track, such as groups of Crimson Finch and Red-backed Fairy-wren. In particular woodland birds were quite good here and I saw the first of many White-winged Trillers here, along with Rufous Whistler, Red-winged Parrot, Black-faced and White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and both Brush and Horsefield’s Bronze Cuckoo. I also found my first Long-tailed Finches here.
On the first and last afternoons during the time we were based here, I walked along the short track which ran from Gagudju Hotel (the croc shaped one, where we stayed) to the Bowali Visitor Centre. This was a very well constructed, easy path, which wound through quite dry woodland. Parts of the nearby vegetation were burnt and I didn’t expect to see much but across the course of the two visits I picked up some nice birds. This was the only place where I saw Black-tailed Treecreeper; I heard these calling on the first occasion but managed to see three on the second. I also saw a distant flock of at least 100 Varied Lorikeets, and a smaller flock of c. 30 birds flew into a flowering Darwin Woollybutt (Eucalyptus miniata) on the track where I had excellent views of them feeding. Other birds included typical woodland and widespread species such as Willie Wagtail, Weebill, Striated Pardalote, Little Corella and Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. Surprisingly I looked up at one point to see a Royal Spoonbill flying overhead.
In the car park of the hotel on the last afternoon (Gagudju) I saw Rufous-throated Honeyeater, and on a couple of nights Bush Stone Curlew patrolled the grounds (first spotted by Matt). During drives to other areas we saw both Black-breasted Buzzard and Wedge-tailed Eagle on the Kakadu Hwy not far south of Bowali.
East Alligator area (Ubirr, Bardedjilidji and Manngarre)
We spent most of one day (retreated back to Jabiru for the heat of afternoon) in the East Alligator area. Although I didn’t get to see the escarpment specialists (heard only for both White-lined Honeyeater and Sandstone Shrike Thrush, not a sign of the rock-pigeon), Bardedjilidji was nevertheless visually stunning for its rock pagoda formations, and the fauna highlight from here was seeing a Black Wallaroo peering down at us from a shelf above the track. Rufous-banded, White-gaped and Brown Honeyeaters were all around the car park along with Crimson Finch (more here than any other site), and Red-winged Parrot and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo were down along the creek.
We headed off to Ubirr to check out rock art, since we were nearby and could afford more time to look then than at sunset when we thought it would be more crowded. The wind had picked up strongly by now (this was to be a fairly constant aspect of the trip), so being near to midday and windy I didn’t expect to see many birds, but several Rufous-throated Honeyeaters were the first of the trip, and a few others such as Mistletoebird, Great Bowerbird, White-winged Triller and Lemon-bellied Flycatcher were still active. The rock art was great as expected; particularly interesting was the painting of a Thylacine.
After lunch and a rest we returned to the area in late afternoon and did the Manngarre Walk which passes through monsoon forest adjacent to the East Alligator River. An interesting selection of monsoon forest and other birds were present, including fleeting glimpses of Rose-crowned Fruit Doves (more easily heard than seen) and Rainbow Pitta, and better views of Shining Flycatcher, Spangled Drongo, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Leaden Flycatcher and others. The track system consists of a shorter walk and a longer walk; the latter passes into sacred women’s area so out of respect we didn’t go that far (even though this would also have been a good area for the pitta). We then headed back to Ubirr to climb the rock and see the sunset – along with what seemed like several hundred others. A few birds were present in the woodlands, such as Blue-faced Honeyeater, Silver-crowned and Little Friarbirds. Despite the crowds scrambling up the rock, a Short-eared Rock Wallaby peered out at us from nearby. It was a great view from the top, looking out over the floodplain and along the edge of the escarpment, although the sunset itself wasn’t spectacular, with no clouds but quite a lot of haze from burning. A few waterbirds and others cruised over the floodplains below and I picked out Pied Cormorant, Swamp Harrier, Pheasant Coucal and Black-necked Stork among others. A group of 10 Little Woodswallows flew over right before sunset.
Nourlangie, Nanguluwur and Anbangbang
With no early birding specific sites I had hoped that we could visit Nourlangie early, not just because of temperature/birding reasons but also to avoid crowds, and Matt and Janet were amenable to this. Unfortunately the rising time clearly wasn’t early enough and then I could barely expect others to stick to my pace. Consequently we left later than I had hoped, and arrived at Nourlangie at about 8:15 when a selection of other cars dotted the car park (no buses yet though). Again, impressive rock art, with the Lightning Man being one of the most familiar works. I did hear a Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeon above the track at one of the highest points but couldn’t see it, I also heard without seeing Peaceful Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove and Emerald Dove, and I could see no sign of and fruit-doves, so clearly it wasn’t my time for seeing columbids here. Several honeyeaters obstinately refused to transform from White-gaped into White-lined. Just as we turned away from the Anbangbang Gallery, Janet asked me what the small birds fighting in low viny growth only metres for the track were - White-lined Honeyeaters, and excellent views of these we had to boot. At one point they came within about 2m of us. This was definitely the birding highlight from this site, although there was a selection of birds present such as Mistletoebird, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Rufous Whistler, Little Woodswallow and Torresian Crow. By the time we made it back to the car park there were several buses, and we drove on to Nanguluwur.
The track to this site passes through woodland and probably would be good early in the day but by 10:00 it was clearly too late; few birds stirred in the alternating phases of heat and wind, mostly those seen at Nourlangie but I did see a Swamp Harrier cruising through grassy savannah, and a Pied Butcherbird. The rock art gallery was nice, firstly because it was uncrowded (we didn’t see any one until we were half way back again), and also because it covered a range of ages and styles. I looked up at the shelter and saw a single White-breasted Woodswallow cruising overhead with a few Little Woodswallows. Lowlight from this walk was Janet’s fall - a substantial one, but it didn’t stop her from visiting to most places on our itinerary.
After returning to Jabiru with a visit to the medical centre, I headed back to the Nourlangie area in the afternoon; although given Janet’s blessing to do so I felt a little guilty nevertheless in leaving the others under the circumstances, but I still did so. The walk into Gubara Pools and back is listed as four hours but this would have to include at least an hour of swimming at the pools. As it was I walked in fairly quickly not knowing how long it would take and it was still hot so there was little activity. As the track arrived at the monsoon forest in the vicinity of the pools I quickly saw a pair of Little Shrike-thrush close to the track. The place was beautiful and quite cool after the hot walk in. I had a dip and dried off, cooling down as I did, then checked the area out for Banded Fruit doves. I walked some distance upstream and down from the pool but I could not see these anywhere. I did see Azure Kingfisher (a pair), Varied Triller and Forest Kingfisher, and a Rainbow Pitta hopped in front of me and perched next to a small pool. I watched it for some time, since I had hoped to see this but only had either fleeting views or merely heard it.
The walk from the pools area to the car park passed through woodland in a valley floor, and was close to the escarpment in a couple of places. At one of these points I heard the sound of heavy wing beats and saw a Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeon fly past followed by another. I tracked these down to where they had landed, right near the base of the rock close to the track and saw 3 feeding on the ground on low rocks. Whilst I was watching them a Sandstone Shrike-thrush hopped onto a rock shelf behind in the same field of view. Other birds seen along the walk included Olive-backed Oriole, Red-winged Parrot, Rainbow Bee-eater, Mistletoebird, Striated Pardalote, Weebill, Rufous Whistler, White-winged Triller and Little Woodswallow, Silver-crowned Friarbird and Pied Butcherbird, to name a selection.
I quickly popped over to Anbangbang Billabong around sunset. Land birds seen here included Restless Flycatcher, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Silver-crowned Friarbird, Willie Wagtail and Azure Kingfisher, and a Barking Owl was calling in the distance. On the billabong were Intermediate Egret, Great Egret, Wandering Whistling Duck, Radjah Shelduck, Little Pied Cormorant, Darter and Black-necked Stork.
Yellow Waters was a great place for birds; I recorded 53 species for this site. Around the car park White-throated, Rufous-banded and White-gaped Honeyeaters and Rufous Whistler were evident. We were booked in for a boat cruise at 8:50am, but also spent some time before and afterwards on the short boardwalk near the boat ramp (the longer walk was still closed). Some of the birds seen here were very tame, such as Broad-billed Flycatcher, Forest Kingfisher, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher and Shining Flycatcher, which was particularly common at this location. Many birds were also seen from the boat; even before we departed, a pair of Pacific Bazas flew past. Intermediate Egret were abundant, as were Pied Heron, Wandering Whistling Duck, the slightly less common Plumed Whistling Duck and Radjah Shelduck, and a small group of Green Pygmy Geese. All three Ibis (Australian White, Straw-necked and Glossy) were present, as was Royal Spoonbill. There were several Black-necked Storks, including a pair at nest with chicks. Masked Lapwings and Australian Pratincoles rested in the drier grass. Other water birds of note included Great Egret, Little Egret, Whiskered Tern, Nankeen Night Heron and Brolga (only records for the trip for the last 3 species).
The boat allowed us to get quite close to the banks, and in addition to seeing many waterbirds on the shore, many land birds were also seen. A flock of Little Corellas wheeled around and landed in a dead gum tree, a quintessentially Australian sight. Shining Flycatchers were particularly common, but other birds seen included Restless Flycatcher, Magpie-lark, Azure Kingfisher, Golden-headed Cisticola, Tree Martin, Fairy Martin, Rainbow Bee-eater, Swamp Harrier and White-bellied Sea-eagle.
The walk from Mardugal camping area to Mardugal Billabong was pleasant, and surprisingly cool in the middle of the day, once the walk passed into the thick waterside vegetation. Quite a few birds were active here in the middle of the day. Highlights were Arafura Fantail, Buff-sided Robin (but brief view only), Dusky Honeyeater, Little Shrike-thrush and a pair of Rufous Whistlers at the nest. Others seen include varied Triller, Olive-backed Oriole, Leaden, Shining and Restless Flycatcher and White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike. On the following morning we stopped in at the boat ramp, and found a Little Kingfisher. North of here on the Kakadu Hwy I saw my first Northern Rosellas, 2 flying across the road.
Gunlom and nearby
On the drive into Gunlom we stopped at Bukbukluk lookout – very scenic but few birds about, no doubt due to the strong winds blowing at the time. On arrival at Gunlom, Matt and I walked up the steep track to the top of the falls, and Matt left me at the top. I walked a short distance up the creek to the open area among the spinifex hummocks. As I waited I saw a number of birds. A single Diamond Dove perched in a nearby eucalypt. The sound of wings flapping loudly in flight alerted me to the presence of 3 Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeons as they landed on a nearby rock. Other birds seen in the vicinity included White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, White-winged Triller (many), Dusky Honeyeater, White-lined Honeyeater, Yellow-tinted Honeyeater (2) and Azure Kingfisher. After an hour at the top I had to head back, having seen no White-throated Grass-wrens. I had a brief but very refreshing swim in the large pool below the falls, but there were beautiful smaller pools above the falls too. Banded Honeyeaters were particularly common around the picnic area and car park, but there were others; Rufous-throated, White-throated and Blue-faced Honeyeaters, Little and Silver-crowned Friarbirds, Mistletoebird and Forest Kingfisher among these. Great Bowerbirds were conspicuous around the camping grounds.
Pine Creek & Fergusson River
I didn’t spend much time in the Pine Creek area. On the outskirts of Pine Creek township, near the racecourse, I saw a single Hooded Parrot in flight from the car – an olive-coloured bird, probably a female or immature bird. I also briefly stopped in to Fergusson River, admittedly at the hottest time of the afternoon, but there were few birds active, and none apparently drinking from the river pools. Of note was an adult White-throated Gerygone, the only one seen for the trip. White-throated Honeyeater, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and Peaceful Dove were the only other birds noted for this site.
Katherine town and outskirts
On approach to Katherine I saw a number of birds from the car. Of note were the many Crested Pigeons, the first of the trip, along with large numbers of Galahs, and some more roadside Northern Rosellas. We joined a night cruise on the Katherine River downstream from the town, leaving from the nearby Springvale Homestead. Several Cattle Egrets flew over at dusk, and we saw Great Egret, 3 Nankeen Night Herons, and a pair of Barking Owls, along with the Johnson’s (Freshwater) Crocodiles. The following night I had even better views of another pair of Barking Owls, this time perched in the palm trees in the car park of our motel, in the middle of town. Many birds were evident around town, with Great Bowerbirds hopping down the footpath of the main street and a group of Grey-crowned Babblers in a park across the road. Other birds noted in Katherine town included Torresian Crow, Collared Sparrowhawk, Willie Wagtail, Magpie-lark, Galah, Rainbow Lorikeet, Crested Pigeon, Bar-shouldered and Peaceful Doves, Black-faced Woodswallow, Rainbow Bee-eater, Yellow Oriole and Blue-faced Honeyeaters. On the drive to Katherine Gorge along Giles Road, Red-backed Kingfishers sat on the powerlines, and I also saw White-necked and White-faced Heron, and Black-necked Stork.
I visited Chinaman Creek twice, once in the late afternoon and once early morning. Parts of the site had been recently burnt, and indeed on the second visit there was more burning of grass at the highway verge, the sound of which was a little too loud at times. On the first visit I parked the car a little way in on the track, in the recently burnt part before the old highway, and walked in to the pool on the creek in the hope of seeing parrots and finches drinking. Actually what I did see was rubbish. This place seemed to be a bit of a local dumping ground for any old rubbish and it’s saddening to see a beautiful site become so marred by waste. Neither Hooded Parrot nor Gouldian Finches were drinking at the pool, nor were any other birds, but a single Common Bronzewing did flush out of the grass on the other side of the creek. I made my way downstream to the old highway crossing and then back up near the fence line to the track near where I had parked the car. Other birds seen included Brown and Rufous-throated Honeyeaters, Galah, Rainbow Lorikeet, Red-winged Parrot, Peaceful Dove, Willie Wagtail, Double-barred Finch, and Black-faced Woodswallow. As I reluctantly turned to the car, dejected after seeing neither hoped-for target species, I heard the sound of parrots calling and looked up in a nearby tree to find 3 Hooded Parrots. I soon found another pair again near the car.
On the next visit, I once again more or less traced the same path, again finding no birds drinking at the pool. I saw about a dozen or so species here, but different birds this time included a single Broad-billed Flycatcher (seen well in thick vegetation along the creek), Restless Flycatcher, Rufous Whistler and Grey Shrike-thrush. As I was heading back to the car along the old road, I heard the sound of parrots, coming towards the highway where it bridged the road. Following the calls I approached the birds and found far more Hooded Parrots than the previous day, and they obligingly flew back towards the car, stopping several times. Ultimately I saw 20 birds, with a mix of ages and sexes, either feeding on the recently burnt ground or perched in the trees nearby. The adult males looked stunning in the direct low-angle light of early morning.
We only had time for a brief visit to Katherine Gorge, walking the short Baruwei Walk. Banded, White-throated, Brown and then Bar-breasted Honeyeaters were all near the car park, and this is the only site for the trip where I saw the last species. Other birds seen here included Brown Goshawk, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Red-winged Parrot, Tree Martin and Double-barred Finch. The walk offered some views of the start of the first gorge, but next time I hope to do a further walk. The low open woodland on the plateau was vaguely reminiscent of low open woodland on the sandstone plateaus around Sydney, only with fewer shrubs and the presence of spinifex. As the track passed by the camping grounds several Great Bowerbirds were active, and a group of noisy Grey-crowned Babblers were passing through the undergrowth.
Edith Falls itself had a walk which again ascended up to the top of the falls looped around and returned down. It looked interesting, but as it was the hottest part of the afternoon, I opted to spend the time there swimming and relaxing, with just some incidental birding near the car park. Birds seen included Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Rufous Whistler, Northern Fantail, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Red-winged Parrot and Striated Pardalote.
Edith Falls Rd
I stopped here both on the way in to Edith Falls and on the return journey. There was not a skerrick of bird activity on the first visit. The second visit was more productive, being later in the day although still probably too warm. As I walked towards the creek, there were many finches feeding in the grass, with Long-tailed, Masked and Double-barred Finches. Crimson Finches were active in the Pandanus over the river as expected, but no Gouldians. I had great views of a pair of Collared Sparrowhawks on the further side of the creek which scattered the finches. As I headed back towards where the finches were, in grass and low shrubs on the low rise to the north of the track, a single finch flew over with what appeared to be a blackish head and breast, yellowish belly and a dark tail. Although not overly colourful, I thought it may have been a Gouldian since any colours would have been washed out by strong backlighting at the time. I found the other finches again, and despite searching could not locate the strange finch until one and then another flew over again, across the road and I lost them. In retrospect, after finally definitely seeing Gouldian Finches later, I suspect that this was what these birds were but could not really be certain. Other birds at the site included White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, White-winged Triller, Rufous Whistler, Willie Wagtail, Northern Fantail, Restless Flycatcher, White-throated Honeyeater and Red-backed Fairy-wren.
We drove out to Mataranka with the hope of seeing the Red Goshawk at Bitter Springs. I had been given recent information that the nest of the Red Goshawk was now in a new location on the Bitter Springs Rd, namely before the caravan park and on the other side of the road from this where the power lines crossed the road. I looked out for this as we drove through, and at first glance couldn’t see it, but with the impetus of hunger and heat, decided to have a look for the goshawk after having a dip in the pools at Bitter Springs and some lunch. The pool at Bitter Springs was busy but not horribly crowded, and swimming here was fantastic. The water was very clear and held many fish (we were cursing ourselves for not bringing a snorkel and mask or even swimming goggles as others did). There was quite a strong current in this long pool, so you can swim one way, or even just float down, to the end, where you can get out at a pool ladder back onto the bridge which crosses the stream; swimming back in the other direction is an exhausting alternative. We stopped to eat lunch near the car park, and although well vegetated, there were few birds active in the heat of the day, notably Brown and Rufous Honeyeaters, a Northern Fantail and a flycatcher which was either a female Leaden or a Broad-billed; I couldn’t get good enough views to resolve this ID.
Driving back, we pulled in to the caravan park and asked one of the staff there about the goshawk, just to check that I was looking in the right area. Yes the nest was where the power lines crossed the road, but about three trees in (I wasn’t looking far enough), they had been hanging around so with a bit of patience we should see them. We drove out and pulled aside on the road near the nest. Within seconds, I saw a raptor out of the corner of my eye; about 150m back up the road towards the pools. Sure enough, in a roadside tree (much closer than the actual nest) there was the Red Goshawk. We all had a good look and the goshawk sat quietly as we walked closer and closer – I even managed to get a few halfway decent photos just with the little digital camera. This was surely the easiest twitch of the trip.
We also went to the main pool at Mataranka; it was nice but the crowds, concrete banks, and landscaping help to maintain an illusion that this was actually a hotel pool made to look like it was in a palm forest (sad since it actually was a natural pool in a palm forest, the fish soon proved this), and I preferred Bitter Springs. A few birds were evident, notably a Shining Flycatcher in the undergrowth, and both great Bowerbirds and Apostlebirds were around the car park. We also did the short and pretty but surprisingly un-birdy Botanical Walk nearby. None of the hoped-for honeyeaters were here (no paperbarks in flower), but I did see Azure Kingfisher, Whistling Kite and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and it was a pretty walk. Dozens of butterflies flew in the shade, mostly Black & White Tigers (Danaus affinis), and some sort of Common Australian Crow (Euploea core, yes there are butterflies called crows too – genus Euploea). Back out near the car park there was a flock of 30 Bar-shouldered Doves (I’ve never seen so many of these together in a flock before) and a Brown Falcon which swooped low and soon put these doves to flight.
Katherine to Victoria River Crossing
The Victoria Highway between Katherine and the Buntine Highway junction held many birds, but it was a long drive and I only noted the more unusual ones. Highlights included a Square-tailed Kite (c. 10km SW of Chainman Creek), a Wedge-tailed Eagle, and small flocks of Cockatiel. Around the junction of the Buntine Highway there were several Masked Woodswallows. I dropped in to Humbles Creek which held hundreds of Galahs as they drank at the tank, but the noise was so loud that I had difficulty hearing any small birds as I searched the creek, and after seeing only Double-barred Finch and Red-backed Fairy-wren I returned to the car. Cockatiel and a small group of Yellow-throated Miners were seen on the drive back up to the highway junction. Campbell Springs held a few of the more common birds such as White-gaped, Blue-faced and Brown Honeyeaters, but of finches there were only Double-barred and Crimson Finches. On our return journey, on the Victoria Highway east of the crossing, I saw 2 Black-breasted Buzzards and a pair of White-faced Herons.
Victoria River region
Victoria River Crossing and surrounds
On approach to the crossing I was dismayed to see that there was a new bridge under construction adjacent to the old one such that any cane grass would only be accessible on one side of the bridge. I noted Rufous-throated and Brown Honeyeaters, Little Friarbird, Magpie-lark and Masked Lapwing as we sat on the grass at the roadhouse and ate our lunch (other birds seen later when we stayed at the roadhouse included Little Corella, with a pair at a nest hollow, and Blue-faced Honeyeater, which was also nesting, under the tin roof of a shed). I bolted my food because I was anxious to search for Purple-crowned Fairy-wren at the bridge. I stood on the bridge in one corner and waited, but on top of the noise of the wind (now strong) in the grass, there was the sounds of trucks reversing, earth moving equipment digging, and then the trucks passing (boy did the old bridge shake) such that I couldn’t hear a thing. I gave up at this spot after 10 minutes or so and headed off to the nearby river access (boat ramp).
The initial visit to the boat ramp was a stunning failure; wind and heat formed a bad combination and I saw and heard nothing on the track to the water. On our return from Timber Creek the following day I returned to this site, several hours later in the afternoon. Although still windy, it had died down a little, and birds were calling. I heard several fairy-wrens in a couple of places, and soon tracked down a group of Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens in cane grass at the bottom of the dip in the track. An adult male, coming into breeding plumage, showed himself, climbing higher and eventually giving great views. I soon saw 5 of these delightful birds; the purple on the male’s crown is very vibrantly coloured. A flock of 10 Crimson Finches were feeding in the grass, and Rufous Whistler, Striated Pardalote and Willie Wagtail were also seen here.
After success with the fairy-wren, I bolted up to the escarpment walk, thinking that if I could get up to the first patch of escarpment I might have a chance of seeing the White-quilled Rock-Pigeon in case I didn’t see it the following day. Just above the first escarpment climb, a White-quilled Rock-Pigeon flew past and landed in spinifex some distance away; I had only just passed a pair of birders some 100m back who had searched in this area for a while without success, so I guess this was my lucky turn. I would have doubled back to tell them where the bird was but I was unable to locate where it landed. The following morning we walked the whole length of the track and had superb views of the valley and surrounding cliffs. On the way back down I had another brief fly past view of a White-quilled Rock-Pigeon, further up than the previous day. Other birds seen here included Great Bowerbird, Silver-crowned and Little Friarbirds, Rufous-throated and White-throated Honeyeaters, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and Bar-shouldered Dove.
Timber Creek & Policeman’s Point
We arrived at Timber Creek in the afternoon with strong winds blowing. A drive to Gregory’s Tree ended short as the track to the tree was closed for maintenance. We checked out the river at the road bridge across the river leading to Defence Dept land (bridge closed to cars) and a White-bellied Sea-Eagle was cruising over the river. More cane grass but again wind obscured even a peep of noise. We also drove up to the lookout on the escarpment nearby, which had great views of the surrounding valley, only birds of note in the windy conditions was a small flock of Long-tailed Finches.
After the others settled in to the room, I drove off for afternoon birding. First stop was the Timber Creek airfield. Hoping for an array of finches, I was to be disappointed in this regard, with only a few Masked Finches present. A few Australasian Bushlarks were feeding in the grass of the airfield, and 2 Brown Songlarks were here also, one moulting into /out of breeding plumage with patchy darker feathering on the underside. Most conspicuous however were the woodswallows. The widespread Black-faced Woodswallows were here, but far more abundant were Masked Woodswallows and, slightly less numerous White-browed Woodswallows. Diamond Doves were common here, along with Bar-shouldered Dove and Crested Pigeon.
I moved on to Policeman’s Point, listed in the older edition of McCrie & Watson as Victoria River Access, but as Policeman’s Point in the revised edition. I drove out to the main point, in vain hope of Gouldian and Star Finches, Yellow-rumped Mannikins and Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens. What I got was a lot of wind. The wind was consistent and unfortunately was to remain so throughout the night and into the next morning. I walked down the steep track through tall cane grass trying to hear a sound of the wrens but no sign of these here. I briefly heard a mannikin call, but never found them in the grass, and this was to be my closest brush with any mannikin of any sort, the only finches being Crimson Finches. Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters were abundant, with lesser numbers of Rufous-throated Honeyeaters present feeding on a flowering Bauhinia tree. Also feeding on the flowers was a flock of Little Corellas. Other birds at the point included Rainbow Lorikeet, Varied Lorikeet (a few flying past) and Rainbow Bee-eater.
I went back to the junction and headed up the northern track, disturbing a single Spinifex Pigeon as it walked along the road, and parked near the end. I saw many finches around me as I got out from the car, which turned out to be mostly Star Finch, a flock of c. 100 birds feeding in nearby grass. Further back from the point, Masked, Long-tailed and Double-barred Finches were present but in smaller numbers. At one point near dusk an Australian Hobby swooped out from the trees and put flight to the small birds, scattering them in all directions. Other birds seen around here included Jacky Winter, Singing Honeyeater, Bar-shouldered, Diamond and Peaceful Doves, Crested Pigeon, Red-winged Parrot and Tree Martin. Needless to say, the cane grass near the river was devoid of any avian activity.
I returned to this area on the following morning at dawn, accompanied by the wind which had strengthened overnight. Back out to Policeman’s Point itself, and more of the same, but I did also see White-faced Heron, Great Egret, White-gaped Honeyeater and Restless Flycatcher. I stopped on the main track about 300m back from the point where I saw a few birds, and saw a few Black chinned Honeyeaters, of the beautiful Golden-backed race laetior. Jacky Winter and Rufous Whistler were also here. Back out along the northern track the Star Finches were in force as the day before, and pretty much the same birds here as the previous day, but I did also see Grey Shrike-thrush, Galah, and an adult Spotted Harrier as it swept out of the trees chasing birds, same area as the hobby the previous day.
After Policeman’s Point, I tried the Bullita Road, hoping for mixed groups of finches and Red-browed Pardalote. I checked out the creek bed just c. 30m in on the road from the highway for Red-browed Pardalote, but there were no birds evident here in the trees which violently and loudly swayed in the wind. In a brief burst between gusts I did hear a Red-browed Pardalote, but it was way away on the other side of the highway and even as I attempted to track it down the call died away. I ultimately drove up to c. 7km on the road before turning back, but saw very little in the way of bird activity until I was near the creek again, the only birds being a few Black-chinned Honeyeaters and a group of Varied Sittellas at c. 4km along the road, and a group of Red-backed Fairy-wrens (including one fully coloured male) and a Golden-headed Cisticola at c. 6km.
By the time I reached the bend c. 200m up from the creek the wind had not so much died down as become gusty, howling one minute then comparatively still another. I got out of the car to check out feeding activity in a flowering Bauhinia; Rufous-throated, Brown and Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters, and Noisy Friarbirds were here. Finches were feeding in the grass nearby and I saw many Masked, and Long-tailed Finches, along with some Double-barred Finches. White-winged Triller and Black-faced Woodswallow were also active here. Some of the finches were also in the flowering Bauhinia; among the Long-tailed Finches there were 4 Gouldian Finches, with 1 adult male re-faced morph, 1 adult female black-faced and 2 dull-coloured young birds. I stopped to watch these beautiful birds for as long as I could before they moved on.
Buchanan Highway and Jasper Gorge
After a late start we decided to make our way back to Victoria River Crossing by way of Jasper Gorge, on the Buchanan Highway. Jasper Gorge is about 50km or so down the Buchanan Highway. Along the way I noted Cockatiel, Galah, Masked Finch, Magpie-lark, White-winged Triller, Whistling Kite, Black Kite, Brown Falcon and a single Black-breasted Buzzard. Jasper Gorge itself was a nice spot for a picnic, but bring your own seating. At the lunch stop, 4 Northern Rosellas flew into the tree nearby giving great views as they perched quietly. On the return journey we had a puncture, so I didn’t really notice too many birds, being more worried about the fact that we did not then have a functional spare in case of another flat.
We stayed 2 nights at Burrell Creek but really only had a full day here, with a little birding the first afternoon after settling in. In general, Burrell Creek had a nice selection of woodland birds, with a few species generally found in thicker riverine vegetation. I saw no birds here which I didn’t see elsewhere, hardly surprising by the end of the trip. I did hear a Grey Butcherbird (Pied were here but this was definitely a Grey BB calling), the only one for the trip. I was hanging on to the hope of seeing Partridge Pigeon; these were not only resident, but were nesting at the time. Possibly this made them more cautious but I couldn’t find a sign of them and will have to wait for another time to see these. I also missed the resident Red Goshawk pair, apparently while I was having breakfast these were hanging around one of the other houses only a few hundred metres away. Bird highlight from here would have to be Northern Rosella, where I had the best views I had of this species for the whole trip. Other birds seen here included Dusky Honeyeater, Rufous-throated Honeyeater, White-gaped Honeyeater, Silver-crowned Friarbird, Little Friarbird, Shining Flycatcher, Leaden Flycatcher, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Rufous Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Northern Fantail, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Peaceful Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove, Red-winged Parrot and Varied Lorikeet.
Litchfield National Park
Consistent with what little I had heard of Litchfield National Park regarding birds, I found it to be fairly unproductive. We didn’t arrive in the park until late morning, and even later by the time we made our first stop, so this was never going to be a particularly birdy experience. Coupled with this, it was very crowded. Nevertheless we stopped at some nice scenic waterfalls and swimming holes, and the termite mounds are spectacular, especially the larger Cathedral Termite mounds. Wangi Falls had a fair bit of bird activity, with lots of Black-faced and White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes feeding at a fig tree almost under the falls. Other birds seen here included Mistletoebird, Great Bowerbird, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Blue-faced Honeyeater, White-gaped Honeyeater and Brown Honeyeater. Yellow Oriole and White-throated Honeyeater were near the picnic area above Florence Falls
All species seen unless indicated otherwise with ‘(h)’; underlined species are lifers.
1) Australasian Grebe: 1 at Fogg Dam (30/6).
2) Australian Pelican: 1 at Fogg Dam (30/6).
3) Australasian Darter: Fogg Dam (30/6); Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); Yellow Waters (3/7).
4) Pied Cormorant: 1 seen flying over floodplain at sunset from Ubirr (1/7).
5) Little Pied Cormorant: Most common cormorant of trip – Fogg Dam and Gungarre (30/6); Mamukala, Bardedjilidji walk and Ubirr [seen flying over floodplain] (1/7); Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); Yellow Waters (3/7).
6) Little Black Cormorant: Fogg Dam (30/6).
7) Great-billed Heron: 2 seen from boat ramp at Buffalo Ck, 1 upstream 1 downstream, (29/6).
8) White-necked heron: 1 in roadside lagoon on Oenpelli Rd on drive to Ubirr (1/7); 1 in small roadside pool, Giles Rd, on drive to Katherine Gorge (5/7).
9) White-faced Heron: 1 in small roadside pool, Giles Rd, on drive to Katherine Gorge (5/7); 1 at Policeman’s Point (7/7); 2 flying over Victoria Hwy, E of Gregory NP (9/7); 2 with breeding plumes at Burrell Ck (10/7).
10) Pied Heron: Many at Fogg Dam (30/6) and Yellow Waters (3/7).
11) Great Egret: 1 at Buffalo Ck (29/6); 1 at Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven, several at Fogg Dam (30/6); few at Mamukala (1/7); Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); several at Yellow Waters (3/7); 1 on Katherine River at Springvale Homestead , Katherine (5/7); 1 on Victoria River at Policeman’s Point (8/7).
12) Intermediate Egret: Most common egret. 1 at Buffalo Ck - unusual habitat? (29/6); many at Fogg Dam and a few at Gungarre (30/6); several at Mamukala (1/7); Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); many at Yellow waters (2/7).
13) Little Egret: A couple at Fogg Dam (3/7); few at Yellow Waters (3/7).
14) Cattle Egret: Few at Yellow Waters (3/7); several flying over Katherine River at Springvale Homestead, Katherine at dusk (5/7).
15) Eastern Reef Egret: 1 dark morph bird on rocks below Esplanade, Darwin (28/6); 1 dark morph and 1 white morph at Buffalo Ck (12/7).
16) Striated Heron: Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7); 1 at Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven (30/6).
17) Nankeen Night Heron: 1 adult and 2 juveniles at Yellow Waters (3/7); 3 on Katherine River below Katherine near Springvale Homestead.
18) Black-necked Stork: 1 at Fogg Dam and also at Gungarre (30/6); 1 seen over floodplain from Ubirr at sunset (1/7); Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); several individuals and a pair at nest with young, Yellow waters (3/7); 1 in tiny roadside pool on Giles Rd, on drive to Katherine Gorge (5/7); 1 flying overhead at Mataranka hot springs (6/7).
19) Glossy Ibis: 7 at Yellow Waters (3/7).
20) Australian White Ibis: Several at Fogg Dam and Gungarre (30/6); Yellow Waters (3/7).
21) Straw-necked Ibis: Conspicuous around Darwin city including Esplanade and Botanic Gardens, seemingly very much an urban bird here (28-29/6); Fogg Dam (30/6); Yellow Waters (3/7).
22) Royal Spoonbill: 1 at Fogg Dam (30/6); few at Yellow Waters, and 1 unexpectedly flying high over Jabiru on walk to Bowali (3/7).
23) Magpie Goose: Relatively numerous at Fogg Dam (30/6); many at Yellow Waters (3/7).
24) Wandering Whistling-Duck: Moderate numbers at Fogg Dam (30/6); Mamukala (1/7); many at Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); abundant at Yellow Waters (3/7).
25) Plumed Whistling-Duck: Many at Yellow Waters, although fewer than Wandering Whistling Duck.
26) Radjah Shelduck: 1 on Gungarre billabong (30/6); Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); many at Yellow waters (3/7); 2 at Mardugal boat ramp area (4/7).
27) Green Pygmy-Goose: A few small groups at Fogg Dam and Gungarre (30/6); Mamukala (1/7); Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); small group at Yellow Waters (3/7).
28) Pacific Baza: 2 at Yellow Waters (3/7).
29) Black Kite: Seemingly everywhere and most widespread raptor. Abundant in Darwin, less so elsewhere although still common. Outside of Darwin area, noted for Fogg Dam, Mardugal Billabong, Katherine Gorge, Edith Falls, Katherine town area, Bitter Springs, Buchanan Hwy, and Wangi Falls, Litchfield NP. So many birds seen from car throughout that these were not recorded.
30) Brahminy Kite: A few seen on drive from Darwin airport (28/6); Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven (30/6); 1 at East Point (29/6); 1 seen on drive to airport (12/7).
31) Whistling Kite: 2nd most common raptor after Black Kite, possibly under-recorded, with many roadside birds not noted. Recorded from all Darwin sites (28-30/6); Fogg Dam, Mary River crossing on Arnhem Hwy and Gungarre (30/6); Ubirr (1/7); Yellow Waters (3/7); Mardugal boat ramp area (4/7); Mataranka hot springs and Botanical Walk, Elsey NP (6/7); Katherine town (7/7); Buchanan Hwy (8/7); Victoria Hwy between Buntine Hwy and Katherine (9/7); Burrell Ck (10/7).
32) Square-tailed Kite: 1 flying over Victoria Hwy, c. 10km SW of Chainman Ck (7/7).
33) Black-breasted Buzzard: 1 seen on Kakadu Hwy, c. 5km S of Bowali (2/7); 1 on Buchanan Hwy (8/7); 2 on Victoria Hwy E of Gregory NP (9/7).
34) Brown Goshawk: 1 at Katherine Gorge (5/7); 1 at Burrell Ck (11/7).
35) Collared Sparrowhawk: Pair at Edith Falls Rd (5/7); 1 in Katherine town (7/7); 1 on Darwin outskirts (11/7).
36) Red Goshawk: 1 at Bitter Springs, with nest nearby.
37) White-bellied Sea-Eagle: Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7); 1 at Yellow Waters, and also 1 nest (3/7); 1 on Victoria River, seen from bridge downstream from Timber Creek (7/7).
38) Wedge-tailed Eagle: 1 on Kakadu Hwy, S of Bowali (3/7); 1 on Kakadu Hwy c. 40km SW of Katherine (7/7).
39) Little Eagle: 1 overhead on Kakadu Hwy S of Cooinda (4/7).
40) Spotted Harrier: 1 near end of northern track, Policeman’s Point (8/7); 1 at Burrell Ck (10/7).
41) Swamp Harrier: 1 flying over floodplain, seen from Ubirr at sunset (1/7); 1 over grassland on Nanguluwur walk (2/7); 1 at Yellow Waters (3/7).
42) Australian Hobby: 1 chasing birds at dusk, northern track, Policeman’s Point (7/7).
43) Nankeen Kestrel: 1 flying over grassland on drive in to Fogg Dam (30/6); Katherine Gorge (5/7).
44) Brown Falcon: 1 on Oenpelli Rd on drive to Ubirr (1/7); 1 on rd to Gunlom (4/7); 1 flying low over road at Botanical Walk, Elsey NP (6/7); 1 on Buchanan Hwy (8/7).
45) Orange-footed Scrubfowl: Common, at times very tame, around Darwin city even seen in city hotel car park, as well as at Esplanade & Botanic Gardens, Buffalo Ck, Tiger Brennan Drive – Bayview Haven (28-30/6, 12/7), Fogg Dam & Gungarre walk (30/6); Manngarre walk (1/7).
46) Purple Swamphen: 1 at Fogg Dam (30/6).
47) Brolga: A few pairs and 3’s at Yellow Waters.
48) Comb-crested Jacana: Quite common at Fogg Dam (30/6); Mamukala (1/7).
49) Bush Stone Curlew: In grounds of hotel at Jabiru (1-2/7).
50) Masked Lapwing: Widespread in open areas, seen at Darwin Airport (28/6); Darwin Esplanade (28/6, 29/6); Buffalo Creek (29/6 & 12/7); East Point (29/6); Fogg Dam (30/6); a few pairs on low grassland adjacent to Yellow Waters (3/7); a pair at Victoria River Roadhouse (7-9/7).
51) Black-winged Stilt: Few at both Fogg Dam (30/6) and Yellow Waters (3/7).
52) Common Sandpiper: 1 at Buffalo Ck (12/7).
53) Greenshank: 2 at Buffalo Ck (29/6).
54) Australian Pratincole: 2 at Fogg Dam (30/6); several at Yellow waters (3/7); 1 on airfield at Darwin Airport, seen whilst plane was taxiing for take-off [last bird of the trip].
55) Silver Gull: Few at Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7).
56) Whiskered Tern: Several at Yellow Waters (3/7).
57) Black-naped Tern: 3, from Stokes Hill Wharf, Darwin (28/6).
58) Crested Tern: 1 at Buffalo Ck (12/7).
59) Pied Imperial-Pigeon: Small numbers seen on drives through Darwin suburbs and also a couple at Esplanade (28-29/6, 12/7); in reasonable numbers flying over at Buffalo Creek (29/6); hundreds at dawn flying over mangroves at Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven (30/6).
60) Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove: Heard at Gungarre (30/6); 1 seen but others heard at Manngarre walk (1/7).
61) Peaceful Dove: Common and widespread, recorded around Darwin at many sites including Esplanade, Buffalo Creek, East Point, Tiger Brennan Drive - Bayview Haven (28-30/6); walk from Jabiru to Bowali (30/6); Nourlangie (heard only) and Gubara Pools walk (2/7); Fergusson River (4/7); Chinaman Ck (4/7, 6/7); drive out to, and at, Katherine Gorge (5/7); Katherine town area (7/7); Policeman’s Point (7-8/7); Burrell Ck (10/7).
62) Bar-shouldered Dove: Most common and widespread pigeon – Darwin area generally (all sites except for Botanic Gardens) (28-30/6, 12/7); heard at Gungarre and seen on Jabiru to Bowali walk (30/6); Manngarre Walk (1/7); heard at Nourlangie and seen on Gubara Pools walk (2/7); Yellow Waters (3/7); Katherine Gorge (5/7); a flock of c. 30 near car park at start of Botanical Walk, Elsey NP (6/7); Katherine town area and Timber Ck airstrip (7/7); Policeman’s Point (7-8/7); Escarpment walk, Victoria River crossing area (9/7); Burrell Ck (10/7).
63) Diamond Dove: 1 above falls at Gunlom (4/7); common at Timber Ck airstrip, and also seen at Policeman’s Point (7/7).
64) Emerald Dove: Heard (29/6) and 2 seen in flight (12/7) at Buffalo Ck; heard only in monsoon forest thicket at base of Nourlangie (2/7).
65) Common Bronzewing: 1 at Chinaman Ck (4/7).
66) Crested Pigeon: Many on outskirts of Katherine & many near Chinaman Ck (4/7); Giles Rd on drive to Katherine Gorge (5/7); Katherine town, Timber Ck airstrip and Policeman’s Point (7/7);
67) Spinifex Pigeon: 1 walking along northern track, Policeman’s Point (7/7).
68) White-quilled Rock-Pigeon: 1 bird seen briefly in flight each day on Escarpment walk, Victoria River crossing area (8-9/7).
69) Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeon: Heard at Nourlangie, and 3 seen well at Gubara Pools Walk, at base of escarpment (2/7); 3 in rocks above falls at Gunlom (4/7).
70) Red-tailed Black Cockatoo: Large flock of c. 100 at Lee Point Rd, not far from Buffalo Ck (29/6); several at Mary River crossing, Arnhem Hwy (30/6); Nourlangie (2/7); Jabiru to Bowali walk (3/7); Katherine Gorge & Edith Falls (5/7); Burrell Ck (10/7).
71) Galah: Common inland – 2 seen on Arnhem Hwy E of Mary River (30/6); many on outskirts of Katherine (4/7); Chinaman Ck (4/7, 6/7); Katherine town area (7/7); Humbles Ck Buntine Hwy where several hundred gathered at tank – too noisy to hear any other birds (7/7); Policeman’s Point, Bullita Rd and Buchanan Hwy (8/7).
72) Sulphur-crested Cockatoo: Widespread, singles to medium-sized flocks. Seen in suburban Darwin (29/6); Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven and Gungarre walk (30/6); Jabiru to Bowali walk (30/6, 3/7); Bardedjilidji walk (1/7); Nourlangie (2/7); Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls (5/7); Mataranka hot springs and Botanical Walk, Elsey NP (6/7); Policeman’s Point (7/7); Burrell Ck (10/7).
73) Little Corella: Darwin Esplanade (29/6); hundreds flying over mangroves at Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven (30/6); on drive to Ubirr (1/7); flock of c. 30 at Yellow Waters (3/7); Jabiru to Bowali walk (3/7); flock of c. 30 feeding on Bauhinia flowers at Policeman’s point (7-8/7); Victoria River Roadhouse, including 1 at nest hollow (8-9/7).
74) Cockatiel: Heard only at Chinaman Ck (6/7); 4 on Buntine Hwy (7/7); Buchanan Hwy (8/7); several small groups along Victoria Hwy, between Gregory NP and Katherine district (9/7).
75) Rainbow Lorikeet: Widespread throughout trip from coast to Victoria River region, but patchy, probably according to flowering. Recorded at Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7); East Point (29/6); Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven & Gungarre walk (30/6); Yellow waters (3/7); Chinaman Ck (4/7, 6/7); Katherine town area (5-7/7); Katherine Gorge (5/7); Policeman’s Point (7/7); Victoria River Roadhouse (8/7); Burrell Ck (9-10/7).
76) Varied Lorikeet: 1 large flock [100+] in distant flight and 1 smaller flock feeding in Darwin Woollybutt, Jabiru to Bowali walk (30/6); brief flight views of small numbers at Chinaman Ck (6/7), Policeman’s Point (7/7); Burrell Ck (10/7).
77) Red-winged Parrot: Widespread and common - seen at Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7); Mamukala and Bardedjilidji walks (1/7); Gubara Pools walk (2/7); below Gunlom Falls (4/7); Chinaman Ck (4/7, 6/7); Katherine Gorge & Edith Falls (5/7); Policeman’s Point (7-8/7); Burrell Creek (9-10/7).
78) Northern Rosella: 2 flying over Kakadu Hwy N of Cooinda (4/7); 2 in flight on outskirts of Katherine (4/7); good views of 4 at Jasper Gorge (8/7); excellent views of 5 at Burrell Ck (10/7).
79) Hooded Parrot: 1 female or immature bird (olive-coloured) seen from Kakadu Highway on outskirts of Pine Creek near racecourse (4/7); 1 adult male, 1 female, 1 immature male and 2 juveniles (4/7) and a group of 20 birds of mixed age and sex (6/7) at Chinaman Ck, feeding in burnt grassland and resting nearby.
80) Brush Cuckoo: Pair at Gungarre walk (30/6); 1 at Mamukala (1/7).
81) Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo: 1 at Mamukala (1/7) and 1 at Yellow Waters (3/7).
82) Little Bronze-Cuckoo: Heard at Darwin Esplanade (29/6); heard at Fogg Dam (30/6); pair in paperbarks near viewing hide, Mamukala (1/7).
83) Pheasant Coucal: 1 seen in grass in car park near Stokes Hill Wharf, Darwin (28/6); 1 seen from Ubirr at sunset, flying over grass on floodplain (1/7).
84) Barking Owl: Heard calling at Anbangbang Billabong at sunset (2/7); 2 seen on Katherine River, Springvale Homestead, Katherine (5/7); 2 seen in car park of motel in Katherine (6/7).
85) Azure Kingfisher: 1 at Buffalo Ck (29/6); 2 at Gubara Pools and 1 at Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); 2 at Yellow Waters and heard only at Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7); 1 on stream above falls, Gunlom (4/7); 1 on Botanical Walk, Elsey NP (6/7).
86) Little Kingfisher: 1 at Mardugal boat ramp (4/7).
87) Blue-winged Kookaburra: Lee Pt Rd, near Buffalo Ck, and Darwin Botanic Gardens (29/6); Mary River crossing, Arnhem Hwy and Gungarre walk (30/6);Jabiru to Bowali track (30/6, 3/7[heard only]); Manngarre walk (1/7); Nanguluwur and Gubara Pools walks (2/7); Yellow Waters and Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7); below Gunlom Falls and outskirts of Katherine (4/7); Policeman’s Point (8/7); Burrell Ck (10/7); Wangi Falls, Litchfield NP (11/7).
88) Forest Kingfisher: Most common kingfisher for this trip, but mostly at coastal or near coastal sites. Seen at Darwin Botanic gardens, Esplanade and East Point (29/6); Fogg Dam, Mary River crossing at Arnhem Hwy (30/6); Gubara Pools (2/7); many at Yellow Waters (3/7); below falls at Gunlom (4/7); Buffalo Ck (12/7).
89) Red-backed Kingfisher: 1 on powerlines on drive in to Fogg Dam (30/6); several on powerlines on Giles Rd, drive to Katherine Gorge (5/7).
90) Sacred Kingfisher: Mostly coastal – Darwin Esplanade (28/6); East Point (29/6); 1 at Buffalo Ck (29/6); 4 at Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven and 1 on Jabiru to Bowali walk (30/6); 1 at Yellow Waters (1/7).
91) Collared Kingfisher: 1 at Buffalo Ck (12/7).
92) Rainbow Bee-eater: Very common and widespread in Darwin area where recorded at all sites, even common flying over city streets, and flocks of c. 20 flying out from mangroves [presumably roosting site?] at dawn at Buffalo Ck on both days (28-30/6, 12/7); Fogg Dam & Gungarre walk (30/6); Mamukala (1/7); Gubara Pools walk (2/7); Policeman’s Point (7/7).
93) Rainbow Pitta: Heard only at Buffalo Ck (29/6); heard only at Gungarre (30/6); 1 seen briefly at Manngarre walk (1/7); great close views of 1 at Gubara Pools (2/7).
94) Tree Martin: Several at Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7); small flock at Fogg Dam (30/6); Yellow Waters (3/7); Katherine Gorge (5/7); Policeman’s Point (7/7).
95) Fairy Martin: 1 small flock at Yellow Waters (3/7).
96) Australasian Bushlark: Few at Timber Ck airstrip (7/7); 1 in grassland on track to Policeman’s Point (8/7).
97) Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike: Widespread - several seen on drive from airport, and also at Esplanade, Darwin (28-29/6); Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven, & Fogg Dam (30/6); walk from Jabiru to Bowali (30/6, 3/7); Mamukala (1/7); Gubara Pools walk (2/7); Yellow Waters (3/7); Bukbukluk and above Gunlom Falls (4/7); Katherine town area and Policeman’s Point (7/7); Bullita Rd (8/7) Escarpment walk, Victoria River crossing area (8-9/7); Burrell Ck (10/7); Wangi Falls & Florence Falls picnic area, Litchfield NP (11/7).
98) White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike: Jabiru to Bowali walk (30/6, 3/7); Mamukala, Manngarre walk and Ubirr (1/7); Yellow Waters and Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7); Mardugal boat ramp area, above falls at Gunlom, Fergusson River and Chinaman Ck (4/7); Edith Falls Rd (5/7); Escarpment Walk, Victoria River crossing area (8-9/7); Wangi Falls, Litchfield NP (11/7).
99) White-winged Triller: Widespread in woodland, mostly away from coast and abundant at some inland sites. Seen at Jabiru to Bowali walk (30/6, 3/7); Mamukala and Ubirr (1/7); Nanguluwur & Gubara Pools walk (2/7); above falls at Gunlom (4/7); Edith Falls Rd (5/7); Bitter Springs (6/7); many at Timber Ck airstrip (7/7); Policeman’s Point, Bullita Rd and Buchanan Hwy (8/7); Burrell Ck (10/7).
100) Varied Triller: Seen at Darwin Esplanade (28-29/6) & Botanic Gardens (29/6); Fogg Dam & Gungarre walk (30/6); Gubara Pools (2/7); Yellow Waters & Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7).
101) Mangrove Robin: Very close views of 2 at pylon off Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven (30/6).
102) Lemon-bellied Flycatcher: In monsoon forest and paperbark woodland - Buffalo Ck and East Point (29/6); Fogg Dam, where fairly common (30/6); Mamukala and Ubirr (1/7); Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); Yellow Waters and Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7); Edith Falls (5/7); a pair at Burrell Ck (10-11/7).
103) Jacky Winter: 1 each on northern track (7/7) and main track (8/7), Policeman’s Point.
104) Buff-sided Robin: 1 seen briefly and possibly another heard in thick waterside vegetation at Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7).
Mangrove Golden Whistler(h): Heard at Adelaide River crossing on Arnhem Hwy (30/6).
105) Grey Whistler: Heard only at Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7); 3 in monsoon forest at East Point (29/6); several at Fogg Dam and Gungarre walk (30/6); heard only at Mamukala (1/7).
106) Rufous Whistler: Widespread in woodland, especially away from coast – Gungarre walk (30/6); Nourlangie and Gubara Pools walk (2/7); Yellow Waters and Mardugal Billabong walk, where pair attending nest (3/7); Katherine Gorge, Edith Falls Rd and Edith Falls (5/7); Chinaman Ck and Bitter Springs (6/7); river access at Victoria River crossing (8/7); Escarpment Walk, near Victoria River crossing (10/7); Burrell Ck (9-10/7).
107) Little Shrike-thrush: 1 in monsoon forest at East Point (29/6); 1 at Gungarre walk (30/6); 1in monsoon forest at Manngarre walk (1/7); close views of 2 at Gubara Pools (2/7); Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7).
108) Sandstone Shrike-thrush: Heard at Bardedjilidji (1/7); 1 seen well at base of escarpment on Gubara Pools walk, when flew into same field of view as White-quilled Rock Pigeons (2/7).
109) Grey Shrike-thrush: 1 at Chinaman Ck (67); 1 at Policeman’s Point (8/7); 1 at Burrell Creek (11/7).
110) Broad-billed Flycatcher: Several in paperbarks near car park, Fogg Dam (30/6); Yellow Waters (3/7); 1 seen well in streamside vegetation at Chinaman Ck (6/7).
111) Leaden Flycatcher: Gungarre walk (30/6); Mamukala and Manngarre walks (1/7); Nourlangie (2/7); Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7); Burrell Ck (9-10/7).
112) Shining Flycatcher: 1 male (29/6) and 1 female (12/7) at Buffalo Ck; 1 female in mangroves around Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven, near the pylon (30/6); 1 in monsoon forest at Fogg Dam (30/6); several at Manngarre walk (1/7); many at Yellow Waters, and also seen at Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7); Mardugal boat ramp area (4/7); 1 at Mataranka hot springs (6/7); 1 male at Burrell Ck (10/7).
113) Restless Flycatcher: Fogg Dam and Gungarre walk (30/6); Mamukala (1/7); Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); Yellow Waters and Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7); Edith Falls Rd (5/7); Chinaman Ck (6/7); Policeman’s Point (8/7).
114) Arafura Fantail: 1 in monsoon forest at East Point (29/6); 1 in streamside vegetation at Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7).
115) Northern Fantail: East Point (29/6); Fogg Dam, Gungarre walk and Jabiru to Bowali walk (30/6); Mamukala (1/7); Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7) and boat ramp area (4/7); Edith Falls Rd and Edith Falls (5/7); Bitter Springs (6/7); Campbell Springs (7/7); Burrell Ck (9-10/7).
116) Willie Wagtail: Fogg Dam (30/6); Jabiru to Bowali walk (30/6, 3/7); Mamukala (1/7); Nanguluwur, Gubara Pools walk and Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); Yellow Waters (3/7); above falls at Gunlom & Chinaman Ck (4/7); Edith Falls Rd (5/7); Katherine town area and Campbell Springs (7/7); Policeman’s Point and river access at Victoria River crossing (8/7); Burrell Ck (10/7).
117) Grey-crowned Babbler: 6 on edge of camping grounds at Katherine Gorge (5/7); Katherine town park (7/7).
118) Australian Reed Warbler: 1 at Fogg Dam (30/6).
119) Golden-headed Cisticola: 2 at Fogg Dam (30/6); 1 at Yellow Waters (3/7); 1 in grass c. 6km down Bullita Rd (8/7).
120) Brown Songlark: 2 at Timber Ck airstrip (7/7).
121) Purple-crowned Fairy-wren: Several heard, and 1 group of 4 birds seen very well (1 female, and 2 males in eclipse/partial eclipse and 1 male in almost full breeding plumage), in cane grass at river access at Victoria River crossing (8/7).
122) Red-backed Fairy-wren: Several groups on Jabiru to Bowali walk, all brown birds (30/6, 3/7); Mamukala (1/7); Yellow Waters (3/7); Edith Falls Rd (5/7); Humbles Ck (7/7); one group incl. a fully coloured male c. 6km down Bullita Rd (8/7); Burrell Ck (10/7).
123) Weebill: Jabiru to Bowali walk (30/6, 3/7); Gubara Pools walk (2/7); Burrell Ck (10/7).
124) Mangrove Gerygone: heard at Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7); 2 pished in for very close (1.5m) views at the pylon, off Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven, (30/6).
125) Green-backed Gerygone: Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7); Darwin Botanic Gardens and East Point [heard only at latter] (29/6); Fogg Dam (30/6).
126) White-throated Gerygone: 1 at Fergusson River (4/7); 1 heard at Edith Falls Rd (5/7).
127) Striated Pardalote: Jabiru to Bowali walk (30/6, 3/7); Gubara Pools walk (2/7); Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7); heard only at both Edith Falls Rd and Katherine Gorge, but seen at Edith Falls (5/7); Bullita Rd and river access at Victoria River crossing (8/7).
Red-browed Pardalote: Heard only at Creek on Bullita Rd – call coming distantly from other side of Victoria Hwy and soon stopped (8/7).
128) Varied Sittella: 5 on Bullita Rd, c. 4km from Victoria Hwy (8/7).
129) Black-tailed Treecreeper: Heard only (30/6) and 3 seen well (3/7) on Jabiru to Bowali walk.
130) Silver-crowned Friarbird: Widespread in a number of wooded habitats, possibly under-recorded. Seen at Darwin airport (28/6) and widely around Darwin including urban areas such as car park of motel in addition to Esplanade and East Point (28-30/6); Gungarre Walk (30/6); Ubirr (1/7); Nourlangie, Gubara Pools walk & Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); Gunlom Falls (4/7); Escarpment walk, Victoria River crossing area (9/7); Burrell Creek (9-10/7).
131) Helmeted Friarbird: Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7); East Point (29/6); in mangroves around Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven (30/6).
132) Little Friarbird: Ubirr (1/7); Gunlom, below falls (4/7); Edith Falls (5/7); Victoria River Roadhouse (7/7); Bullita Rd (8/7); Escarpment walk, Victoria River crossing area (9/7); Burrell Ck (10/7); Wangi Falls, Litchfield NP (11/7).
133) Blue-faced Honeyeater: East Point (29/6); Ubirr (1/7); below falls at Gunlom (4/7); Katherine and outskirts of town (4-7/7); Mataranka hot springs and Botanical Walk, Elsey NP (6/7); Campbell Springs (7/7); Victoria River Roadhouse, including 1 at nest under tin roof of shed (8-9/7); Jasper Gorge (8/7); Burrell Ck (10/7); Wangi Falls, Litchfield NP (11/7).
134) Yellow-throated Miner: 5 on Buntine Hwy north of Humbles Ck (7/7).
135) White-lined Honeyeater: Heard at Bardedjilidji walk (1/7); 2 seen exceptionally well, within 1.5m, at Nourlangie (2/7); heard at Gubara Pools walk (2/7); heard and 2 seen briefly above falls at Gunlom (4/7).
136) Singing Honeyeater: 1 on northern track at Policeman’s Point (7/7).
137) White-gaped Honeyeater: Widespread and common at most sites around Darwin (28-30/6, 12/7); in Kakadu NP, seen at most sites visited in South Alligator and Yellow Waters area, but also at Nourlangie (30/6-3/7); Campbell Springs (7/7); Policeman’s Point (8/7); Burrell Ck (10/7); Wangi Falls, Litchfield NP (11/7).
138) Yellow-tinted Honeyeater: 3 above falls at Gunlom (4/7); many at Policeman’s Point (7-8/7); Bullita Rd (8/7).
139) Black-chinned Honeyeater: A few on main track, c. 300m S of Policeman’s Point, and also c. 4km on Bullita Rd (8/7).
140) White-throated Honeyeater: Widespread, often numerous. Seen at Darwin Airport (28/6); Mary River crossing, Arnhem Hwy, and Jabiru to Bowali walk (30/6), Mamukala (1/7); Nanguluwur walk and Anbangbang Billabong (2/7); Yellow Waters (3/7); below Gunlom Falls, and several at Fergusson River (4/7); Katherine Gorge & Edith Falls Rd (5/7); Escarpment walk, Victoria River crossing area (9/7); Burrell Creek (9-10/7); Florence Falls picnic area, Litchfield NP (11/7).
141) Brown Honeyeater: Probably most widespread honeyeater, seen at many sites around Darwin city including Esplanade (28-29/6); East Point (29/6); Buffalo Ck (29/6); large numbers in mangroves around Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven, and also seen on Gungarre walk (30/6); Bardedjilidji walk and Ubirr (1/7); Gubara Pools walk (2/7); Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7); walk from Jabiru to Bowali (30/6, 3/7); Chinaman Ck (4/7); Katherine town area (5-7/7); Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls (5/7); Bitter Springs (6/7); Campbell Springs & Victoria River Roadhouse (7/7); Policeman’s Point, Bullita Rd & Jasper Gorge (8/7); Burrell Ck (10/7); Wangi Falls & Florence Falls picnic area, Litchfield NP (11/7).
142) Bar-breasted Honeyeater: Moderately common at Katherine Gorge (5/7).
143) Rufous-banded Honeyeater: Common at coastal and some near- coastal sites, including Darwin Esplanade (28/6); Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7); Tiger Brennan Drive – Bayview Haven, Fogg Dam, and Gungarre walk (30/6); Mamukala and Bardedjilidji walks (1/7); Yellow Waters and Mamukala billabong walk (3/7).
144) Rufous-throated Honeyeater: Several at Ubirr (1/7); several in hotel grounds at Jabiru (3/7); Gunlom [common], outskirts of Katherine and Chinaman Ck (4/7); Edith Falls (5/7); Bitter Springs (6/7); Victoria River Roadhouse (7/7); Policeman’s Point (7-8/7); Bullita Rd (8/7); Escarpment walk, Victoria River crossing area (9/7); Burrell Creek (10/7).
145) Dusky Honeyeater: East Point (29/6); Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7); above falls at Gunlom (4/7); Burrell Ck (9/7).
146) Red-headed Honeyeater: Buffalo Ck, where seen particularly well (29/6, 12/7); East Point (29/6); in mangroves around Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven (30/6).
147) Banded Honeyeater: Common below falls at Gunlom (4/7); few at Katherine Gorge (5/7).
148) Mistletoebird: Darwin Esplanade (29/6); Ubirr (1/7); Nanguluwur and Gubara Pools walks (2/7); Gunlom, above and below falls (4/7); Katherine town and Katherine Gorge (5/7); Burrell Ck (10/7); Wangi Falls, Litchfield NP (11/7).
149) Yellow White-eye: Many seen well at Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7); seen in mangroves around Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven, near the pylon (30/6); heard at East Point (29/6).
150) Star Finch: A flock of c. 100 birds, near river access on northern track, Policeman’s Point area (7-8/7).
151) Crimson Finch: 1 imm. at Jabiru to Bowali walk (30/6); 1 flock at Mamukala walk and several flocks on Bardedjilidji walk (1/7); few at Edith Falls Rd (5/7); several at Campbell Springs (7/7); Policeman’s Point (7-8/7); c. 10 at river access at Victoria River crossing (8/7).
152) Double-barred Finch: Most commonly recorded finch for the trip – seen at Darwin esplanade and also nearby (28-29/6); heard at Mamukala (1/7); Jabiru to Bowali walk (3/7); Chinaman Ck (4/7); Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls Rd (5/7); Humbles Ck (7/7); Policeman’s Point (7-8/7); Bullita Rd (8/7); Escarpment walk, Victoria River crossing area (9/7); Burrell Ck (10/7).
153) Masked Finch: Couple of imm. birds and 1 ad. Near hide at Mamukala (1/7); many at Edith Falls Rd (5/7); Timber Ck airstrip (7/7); Policeman’s Point (7-8/7); flock roadside on Bullita Rd, and also roadside on Buchanan Hwy (8/7); a few at car park at termite mounds, Litchfield NP (11/7).
154) Long-tailed Finch: Several at Mamukala walk (1/7); many at Edith Falls Rd (5/7); several near escarpment lookout above Timber Ck, also at Policeman’s Point (7/7); flock on Bullita Rd (8/7).
155) Gouldian Finch: 1 adult male red-faced morph, 1 adult female black-faced morph and 2 young, on Bullita Rd c. 100m along from creek (8/7); 2 birds seen in flight, badly backlit, may have been this sp. but views were inconclusive
156) Yellow Oriole: Common around Darwin, including Esplanade (28/6) and Botanic Gardens (29/6); Fogg Dam (30/6); Mamukala and Manngarre walks (1/7); Katherine town (7/7); Florence Falls picnic area, Litchfield NP (11/7); Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7).
157) Olive-backed Oriole: Gubara Pools Walk (2/7) & Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7).
158) Figbird: several seen in flight on drive from airport, and also at Esplanade, Darwin (28/6).
159) Spangled Drongo: 1-2 at Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7); 2 at Manngarre walk (1/7); 1 at Mardugal Billabong walk (3/7); 1 in Darwin suburbs (11/7).
160) Great Bowerbird: Widespread across most wooded habitats. 2 seen at Buffalo Ck (29/6); 4 in mangroves around Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven (30/6); Bardedjilidji walk and Ubirr (1/7); Nourlangie (2/7); below Gunlom Falls near camping grounds, in Pine Ck town, and on outskirts of Katherine (3/7); in Katherine town area - even walking down footpath of main street, and a bower in car park of YMCA (5-7/7); Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls (5/7); Mataranka hot springs – near car park (6/7); Policeman’s Point (7/7); Victoria River Roadhouse (8-9/7); Escarpment walk, Victoria River crossing area (9/7); Burrell Creek, with an excellent bower (10/7); Wangi Falls & Florence Falls picnic area, Litchfield NP (11/7).
161) Apostlebird: A group of 10 at car park of Mataranka hot springs (6/7).
162) Magpie-lark: Probably under-recorded generally due to familiarity and many unrecorded roadside birds. Quite common around Darwin although only recorded from Esplanade (28/6); Buffalo Ck (29/6); Yellow Waters (3/7); Katherine town, Victoria River Roadhouse and Policeman’s Point (7/7); Buchanan Hwy (8/7).
163) White-breasted Woodswallow: Darwin Esplanade (28/6); East Point (29/6); Buffalo Ck (29/6, 12/7); Tiger Brennan Drive, Bayview Haven (30/6); Gungarre walk (30/6); Nanguluwur walk (2/7).
164) Masked Woodswallow: Many at Timber Ck airstrip (7/7); a few on Victoria Hwy near junction with Buntine Hwy (9/7).
165) White-browed Woodswallow: Relatively numerous (but less than preceding sp.) at Timber Ck airstrip (7/7).
166) Black-faced Woodswallow: On powerlines on drive in to Fogg Dam (30/6); Kakadu Hwy, S of Bowali (3/7); Chinaman Ck (4/7); on powerlines on Giles Rd, on drive to Katherine Gorge, and at Katherine Gorge (5/7); Katherine town area (7/7); Timber Ck airstrip (7/7); Policeman’s Point (7-8/7); Bullita Rd (8/7); Victoria Hwy, E of Gregory NP (9/7).
167) Little Woodswallow: 10 flying over Ubirr at sunset (1/7); Nourlangie, Nanguluwur & Gubara Pools walk (2/7); 2 at Yellow Waters (3/7); Gunlom (4/7); Burrell Ck (10/7).
168) Black Butcherbird: 1 at East Point (29/6) and 1 at Buffalo Ck (12/7).
Grey Butcherbird (h): Heard at Burrell Ck (10/7).
169) Pied Butcherbird: Nanguluwur Walk and Gubara Pools Walk (2/7); Burrell Ck (10/7).
170) Torresian Crow: Possibly under-recorded – seen at Buffalo Ck and Botanic Gardens (29/6); Gungarre walk (30/6); Nourlangie, Nanguluwur and Gubara Pools walks (2/7); Yellow Waters and Jabiru to Bowali walk (3/7); Bukbukluk Lookout (4/7); Katherine town (7/7); Escarpment walk, Victoria River crossing area (9/7).