Inala’s Top End Tour - Birds & Wildlife of Kakadu & the Kimberley
22nd - 30th June 2019
Tour Leader: Steve Davidson
(BIRD LIST AT BOTTOM OF TRIP REPORT)
Day 1. Saturday 22 June, 2019. The first day of our Inala Top End tour commenced in the tropical city of Darwin where, after a very early and unexpected evacuation of the premises due to an accidentally triggered fire alarm, our intrepid group of birders met for breakfast.
There was no time to waste, and rapid-fire birding started in a patch of riparian rainforest east of the city, with Brahminy, Black & Whistling Kites seen en route. Once on site we started picking out regional specialties like Arafura Fantail, Green-backed Gerygone, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Shining Flycatcher, Arafura Shrike-thrush (recently split from Little Shrike-thrush), Northern Fantail, Grey Whistler, Spangled Drongo, Yellow Oriole, the ubiquitous Rainbow Bee-eater and a brief Rose-crowned Fruit-dove. Reptilian representatives included Yellow-faced Turtle, Swanson’s Snake-eyed Skink, a basking Merten’s Water Monitor and amazingly, the rarely seen and wholly aquatic Arafura File Snake.
A visit to mangroves and mudflats north of Darwin yielded Red-headed Myzomela, Mangrove Gerygone, Broad-billed Flycatcher, Eastern Reef Egret, Azure Kingfisher, a huge mob of White-breasted Woodswallow and Striated Heron. Out on the mudflats we were able to identify Greater and Lesser Sandplovers, Red-capped Plover and Great Knot.
After a pretty snazzy lunch at Cullen Bay we visited a few wetlands around town, with Brolga, Magpie Goose, Pied Heron, Green Pygmy-goose, Intermediate Egret, Comb-crested Jacana and Swamp Harrier all on show. Adjacent woodlands yielded Paperbark Flycatcher, Rufous-banded Honeyeater, Varied Triller, Red-winged Parrot and Lemon-bellied Flyrobin.
It was a big day in the tropics and a shower and dinner was called for, but not before we had one last stop to make, where the resident pair of Rufous Owls did not disappoint.
85 species for the day was a worthy return on our efforts, and an excellent kick-off for the tour…
Day 2, Sunday 23rd June. With a little more time to bird the Darwin environs we headed to some more mangrove-edge habitat where we soon had a little trio of Canary White-eye, as well as more Red-headed Myzomelas, Northern Fantail and a feisty group of Double-barred Finch. Nearby we lucked onto some bizarre-looking Bush Thick-knees at their day roost, while on the rocks offshore were Pacific Golden Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Lesser Crested Tern and Black-naped Tern. A real and very unexpected surprise was locking onto a pod of Australian Humpback Dolphins literally 50m offshore. Agile Wallabies occupied grassy clearings nearby.
With time against us we bid farewell to Darwin and headed east, nabbing Pacific Baza en route before a quick lunch and a visit to Fogg Dam, where we managed to lock onto a bedazzling Rainbow Pitta in the littoral scrub, as well as Little Bronze-cuckoo, an out-of-range Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Arafura Fantail, Forest Kingfisher, Australian Hobby, Australasian , Radjah Shelduck, 4 different egrets and a lone Yellow-billed Spoonbill. Asian Water Buffalo grazed the swamp off in the middle distance.
Heading into the world-famous Kakadu National Park before dark was our priority, but not before we’d had late afternoon looks at a pair of beautiful Mangrove Golden Whistler and Crimson Finch, with drive-by sightings of Red-backed Kingfisher and Channel-billed Cuckoo. Calling Barking Owls that night remained unseen.
Day 3, Monday 24th June. Our intrepid posse set out early this morning in order to witness this amazing and world-renowned region, and we soon had some great birds in the form of Magpie Goose, Glossy Ibis, Pheasant Coucal, Masked Finch, Little Woodswallow, Great Bowerbird, Silver-crowned Friarbird, Blue-winged Kookaburra and nesting White-throated Honeyeaters. Our first Estuarine, or Saltwater Crocodiles were witnessed today too.
Nearby Arnhem Land escarpment country produced a clifftop viewing of the restricted-range Sandstone Shrike-thrush, whilst the regionally endemic Banded Fruit-Dove was unfortunately only seen by some… More birds and fascinating rock art were much appreciated as the day heated up, and we scored with a covey of the range-restricted Partridge Pigeon, whilst a Black-breasted Buzzard soared overhead. A refreshing lunch was enjoyed in the township of Jabiru, after which we got onto a trio of Black-tailed Treecreeper and our first Weebills in nearby tropical woodland.
Late afternoon saw us check in to our accommodation and make it just in time for our evening cruise on the famous Yellow Waters, part of the South Alligator floodplain. Bursting with birdlife we witnessed huge numbers of both Plumed & Wandering Whistling Ducks, as well as Black-necked Stork, Pied Heron, hundreds of egrets, Green Pygmy-goose, Comb-crested Jacana and their tiny young, Nankeen Night-heron, White-bellied Sea-eagle, Azure, Forest & Sacred Kingfishers, Whiskered Tern, Brush Cuckoo and many more. Some distant wild swamp horses was an interesting story, plus a smashing sunset topped proceedings off. It had been an epic day, and our more than luxurious accommodation enveloped us in its comforting arms that night to deliver us some well-earned slumber.
Day 4, Tuesday 25th June. Not to rest on our laurels we were out again early this morning to soak up a bit more Kakadu magic, and undertook a short hike with a bit of a climb to view the incredible Arnhem Land escarpment. It took a bit of effort but we finally managed great views of the range restricted White-lined Honeyeater, an Arnhem Land endemic. We also chanced upon a beautiful Black Wallaroo nearby, a large wallaby that too is an endemic to this region. Other birds in the vicinity included Leaden Flycatcher, Northern Fantail, Rufous Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush and better views of Silver-crowned Friarbirds feeding in kurrajong flowers.
Driving on through the southern part of Kakadu NP we stopped at various intervals for new birds, with one spot producing a plethora of honeyeaters in some flowering grevilleas. These included Bar-breasted, Banded, Dusky, Brown, White-gaped, White-throated, White-quilled (Blue-faced) & Rufous-throated Honeyeaters, as well as Little & Silver-crowned Friarbirds. Nearby were our first Red-backed Fairy-wrens and Long-tailed Finches.
Further on we were fortunate to see a family of 3 Silver-backed Butcherbird, as well as Yellow-throated Miner, and our next stop produced a large and photogenic party of the beautiful Northern Rosella.
With time pressing, we regretfully headed out of the park and down toward Pine Creek, our stop for the night. Just as we pulled into town our senses were assaulted by none other than a very much wanted target species for the tour – the pulchritudinous and very range-restricted Hooded Parrot! With the dying rays of the sun on these fantastic and endearing parrots our cameras were almost in meltdown mode, and indeed it was a fitting end to another brilliant day.
Day 5, Wednesday 26th June. After a fabulous morning session with the Hooded Parrots we paid a visit to some nearby ponds where there were a variety of waterbirds present, with Pied Stilt, Australasian Grebe, Black-fronted Dotterel and Grey Teal all new for the trip. Woodlands adjacent held White-throated Gerygone, White-winged Triller, Little Woodswallow, a pair of atiel and a Singing Honeyeater.
The remainder of the day involved a fair chunk of driving and driving south through Katherine we stopped for an early lunch, then headed west. Stopping en route we picked up various birds such as Yellow-tinted Honeyeater, Red-winged Parrot, Black-faced Woodswallow, Striated Pardalote and Wedge-tailed Eagle.
The quiet lull of mid-afternoon coasting was at one point shattered by the thunderous, banshee-like roar of “BUSTARD…!!!” from one of our party. Sure enough, after a 6-point turn of our bus, we managed to clap eyes on one of our more magnificent avian beasts, the stately Australian Bustard whom offered up some pretty cracking photographic ops.
Nearer to our accommodation at the tiny town of Timber Creek, we lucked upon a late afternoon congregation of Red-tailed Black-cockatoos coming in for an evening drink at a rapidly drying pool in the river. The flame red flashes in their tails was a sight to behold. Also here were several Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters and some confiding Red-collared Lorikeets gorging themselves on the nectar of flowering eucalypts.
Day 6, Thursday 27th June. A pre-dawn, pre-breakfast stroll saw us at a pandanus-lined creek waiting for both daylight and the local Buff-sided Robin to show, which both duly did, much to the appreciation of everyone gathered.
With a full day to explore the fabulous Victoria River region we set out, galvanised after the author’s favourite breakfast of egg and bacon sarnie…
New birds came thick and fast, and in rapid succession we imbibed views of Hooded Robin, Varied Sittella, Grey-crowned Babbler, Jacky Winter, Pheasant Coucal, more Black-tailed Treecreepers, Masked & Long-tailed Finches and Red-backed Fairywrens and a pair of subtly patterned Red-browed Pardalote. Budgerigars heard flying high overhead went frustratingly unseen.
Some considerable time spent scouring the cane grass edges of the Victoria River eventually resulted in some wonderful birding with the star attraction here – Purple-crowned Fairywren, showing well. In addition to this we also had our first views of Star Finch, Brown Quail, Grey-fronted Honeyeater, Varied Lorikeet, Golden-headed Cisticola and Little Crow. A native Orchid Tree was brimming with honeyeaters feeding on its nectar, and the aforementioned Grey-fronted, plus Rufous-throated, Yellow-tinted, Singing, White-quilled (Blue-faced), White-gaped and White-throated Honeyeaters were in attendance, as well as Little Friarbird and Yellow-throated Miner.
Antilopine Wallaroo seen on the drive back to Timber Creek was an excellent mammalian highlight.
Day 7, Friday 28th June. Extending our reach ever westward, today’s journey took us further into the vast Kimberley region of the NT/WA border region. Another roadside stop to view the mighty Victoria River resulted in some pretty cool sightings of a couple of new birds. Yellow-rumped Mannikin was on show straight away, a much-wanted bird that gave us some great views in the spotting scope. Also in the flock was a single Chestnut-breasted Mannikin and a bunch of Star Finch, and rather fortuitously a pair of Purple-crowned Fairywren that put on a good show for us. Over the river itself were a few Fairy Martins and a Caspian Tern, plus distant Wedge-tailed Eagle and White-bellied Sea-eagles, and nearby a Buff-sided Robin showed beautifully. Down on the muddy margins sat a few appreciably distant Saltwater Crocs…
At lunch we were visually assaulted by our only Gouldian Finches of the trip, with several of these gorgeous finches only metres away foraging on recently burnt ground for dropped grass seed. The author of this report is vastly relieved and most grateful to these birds, as our prospects were looking decidedly shaky!
Birds seen as we drove on included good views of Black-breasted Buzzard, White-necked Heron, flocks of Cockatiel and our first Australian Magpie of the trip at the Western Australian border. A final roadside stop before we made Kununurra produced several Diamond Dove, Zebra Finch and a couple of White-winged Trillers.
Some chilled lakeside birding late in the afternoon at Kununurra gave us our first White-browed Crakes, plus Dusky Moorhen, Whiskered Tern, Hardhead (White-eyed Duck), Wandering Whistling-duck, Torresian Imperial Pigeon and Crimson Finch. A lovely Gilbert’s Dragon was a nice diversion.
After a brilliant BBQ dinner and some good times we crashed, ready for an ultra-early start in order to make it to Lake Argyle by dawn…
Day 9, Saturday 29th June. Our last full day of the trip saw us on the road by 4:50am, hurtling towards Lake Argyle Village to meet our host for the cruise that was to take us out on the vast Lake Argyle for the day. The dawn sky was spectacular as we made our way on to the boat ramp, and in no time flat we were coursing our way over the glassy surface of the lake. We soon had Pied Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, Eastern Osprey and Black-necked Stork under the belt, and at a strategically-chosen breakfast spot coffee & croissants were consumed whilst watching Pied Herons, Comb-crested Jacana and White-bellied Sea-eagles, seemingly at arm’s length, and our first Masked Woodswallows flew overhead.
Out on the edges of a large island birdlife was prolific, and the main target here, Yellow Chat, was quickly observed and appreciated with a gorgeous male sat perfectly in the spotting scope. Making our way around this island, redolent as it was with birdlife, we also had new species in the form of graceful Australian Pratincoles, Freckled Duck, Pink-eared Duck, a marauding Black Falcon, Red-kneed Dotterel, plus big numbers of Green Pygmy-goose, Red-capped Plover, Royal Spoonbill and Pied Stilt. Up to a dozen Australian Bustards were also out and about, and the sheer number of waterfowl and wading birds was a sight to behold.
As we made our way back in after a stupendous morning, we stopped at a few craggy outcrops and soon had brilliant views of a party of Short-eared Rock-wallaby. Nearby was another Sandstone Shrike-thrush, and finally a pair of the very range-restricted White-quilled Rock-pigeon sitting on a rock high up in their spinifex-adorned home. Not only was this a great bird to see but it was also a lifer for none other than Inala’s founder, Tonia Cochran herself. It was a fitting end to an unbelievable morning out.
Our lunchtime stop was punctuated by a gander at a local Great Bowerbird’s bower in the caravan park at Lake Argyle Village, festooned with such trinkets as blue clothes pegs, bottle tops and broken concrete…
Late afternoon saw us back at Kununurra and birding in the shade as the afternoon wore on, with Collared Sparrowhawk, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin and Australian White Ibis the more notable sightings, among others.
With another amazing dinner set out for us, we raised glasses to what had been a fantastic and successful trip, with 202 species seen and 4 heard only.
Inala Nature Tours - Top End & Kimberley Tour - 22-30th June, 2019
Tour Leaders: Steve Davidson & Tonia Cochran
- Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Megapodius reinwardt: commonly seen around Darwin & environs, as well as at Fogg Dam and Kakadu NP.
- Brown Quail, Coturnix ypsilophora: small covey flushed from canegrass margins in Gregory National Park whilst looking for Purple-crowned Fairywren.
- Magpie Goose, Anseranas semipalmata: good numbers in Kakadu NP, Fogg Dam and at Lake Argyle
- Plumed Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna eytoni: thousands seen on Yellow Waters cruise in Kakadu NP, also on Lake Argyle.
- Wandering Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna arcuata: good numbers around Darwin, in Kakadu NP and on Lake Argyle.
- Freckled Duck, Stictonetta naevosa: Four birds seen when on Lake Argyle cruise.
- Radjah Shelduck, Tadorna radjah: small numbers throughout larger wetland areas.
- Australian Wood Duck, Chenonetta jubata: several birds with other waterfowl on Lake Argyle.
- Pink-eared Duck, Malacorhynchus membranaceous: Four birds seen when on Lake Argyle cruise.
- Green Pygmy-Goose: Nettapus pulchellus: good numbers in Darwin area, Kakadu NP and especially on Lake Argyle, with several hundred there.
- Grey Teal, Anas gracilis: small numbers at Pine Creek and on Lake Argyle.
- Pacific Black Duck, Anas superciliosa: reasonably common on most waterways throughout tour.
- Hardhead (White-eyed Duck), Aythya australis: small numbers seen around Kununurra and on Lake Argyle.
- Australasian Grebe, Tachybaptus novaehollandiae: seen on a number of smaller wetlands throughout the tour.
- Great Crested Grebe, Podiceps cristatus: up to half a dozen seen out on Lake Argyle during cruise.
- Crested Pigeon, Ocyphaps lophotes: singleton seen in Pine Creek, a couple of others seen whilst en route.
- Partridge Pigeon, Geophaps smithii: pair flushed off the road whilst en route to Ubirr area, Kakadu NP, and a party of at least 12 observed at length, near Jabiru.
- White-quilled Rock-Pigeon, Petrophassa albipennis: pair seen well on rock outcrop on Lake Argyle.
- Diamond Dove, Geopelia cuneata: up to half a dozen seen on roadside stop east of Kununurra.
- Peaceful Dove, Geopelia striata: commonly seen and heard throughout tour.
- Bar-shouldered Dove, Geopelia humeralis: a common species seen and heard many times throughout tour.
- Banded Fruit-Dove, Ptilinopus cinctus: single bird, unfortunately seen by only one member of the tour party, Kakadu NP.
- Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, Ptilinopus regina: single adult seen briefly at Howard Springs near Darwin.
- Torresian Imperial-Pigeon, Ducula concinna: small numbers seen in Darwin, single bird in Kununurra.
- Australasian Darter, Anhinga novaehollandiae: commonly seen on larger waterways throughout tour.
- Little Pied Cormorant, Microcarbo melanoleucos: commonly seen species on most waterways.
- Great Cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo: single bird seen whilst on Lake Argyle.
- Pied Cormorant, Phalacrocorax varius: numbers seen on Lake Argyle and around Kununurra.
- Australian Pelican, Pelecanus conspicillatus: seen around Darwin, Kakadu NP and Kununurra areas.
- White-necked Heron, Ardea pacifica: single birds in a few places.
- Eastern Great Egret, Ardea modesta: good numbers in a main wetland areas.
- Intermediate Egret, Ardea intermedia: commonly seen in most wetlands throughout tour.
- Cattle Egret, Bubulcus coromandus: commonly seen with bovines, in Darwin & Kakadu NP.
- Striated Heron, Butorides striata: one seen well at Buffalo Creek, Darwin and one in Kakadu NP.
- Pied Heron, Egretta picata: common in large wetlands around Darwin, Fogg Dam, Kakadu NP and on Lake Argyle.
- White-faced Heron, Egretta novaehollandiae: less common than other egrets, seen in a few places.
- Little Egret, Egretta garzetta: regularly seen on major wetlands throughout tour.
- Eastern Reef Egret, Egretta sacra: dark and white phases seen well in coastal areas of Darwin.
- Nankeen Night-Heron, Nycticorax caledonicus: several seen on Yellow Waters Cruise in Kakadu NP, also a few on Lake Argyle.
- Glossy Ibis, Plegadis falcinellus: seen on Yellow Waters Cruise in Kakadu NP, also a few on Lake Argyle.
- Australian White Ibis, Threskiornis molucca: reasonably common throughout trip on wetland margins.
- Straw-necked Ibis, Threskiornis spinicollis: regularly seen throughout tour.
- Royal Spoonbill, Platalea regia: seen on Yellow waters, Kakadu NP and Lake Argyle.
- Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Platalea flavipes: single bird seen at Fogg Dam.
- Eastern Osprey, Pandion cristatus: single bird out on Lake Argyle.
- Black-breasted Buzzard, Hamirostra melanosternon: single bird near Jabiru, others whilst en route to Kununurra.
- Pacific Baza, Aviceda subcristata: beautiful adult bird seen well at Darwin Airport.
- White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Haliaeetus leucogaster: seen on several occasions throughout tour.
- Whistling Kite, Haliastur sphenurus: common raptor seen every day of tour.
- Black Kite, Milvus migrans: very common raptor seen every day of tour.
- Brown Goshawk, Accipiter novaehollandiae: seen on several occasion, mostly of birds in flight.
- Collared Sparrowhawk, Accipiter cirrocephalus: one adult seen well at Fogg Dam, another watched in spotting scope in Kununurra.
- Spotted Harrier, Circus assimilis: adult bird in flight over Victoria River, Gregory NP.
- Swamp Harrier, Circus approximans: one seen over wetlands in Darwin, one seen over Fogg Dam.
- Wedge-tailed Eagle, Aquila audax: a few pairs seen in flight in Victoria River district, east Kimberley.
- Nankeen Kestrel, Falco cenchroides: commonly seen throughout tour.
- Brown Falcon, Falco berigora: commonly seen roadside raptor.
- Australian Hobby, Falco longipennis: fine adult bird seen at Fogg Dam.
- Black Falcon, Falco subniger: single bird in hunting mode, actively chasing birds, seen whilst on Lake Argyle cruise.
- Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus: reasonably distant views of a bird soaring around cliffs in Kakadu NP.
- Brolga, Grus rubicunda: seen on a number of occasions in Darwin area and in Kakadu NP.
- Australasian (Purple) Swamphen, Porphyrio melanotus: seen on a number of wetlands throughout tour.
- Chestnut Rail, Eulabeornis castaneoventris: unfortunately heard only with a couple of birds braying deep in mangroves at Buffalo Creek, Darwin.
- White-browed Crake, Amaurornis cinerea: several birds seen well on wetlands around Kununurra, WA.
- Dusky Moorhen, Gallinula tenebrosa: two young bird seen in Kununurra, a little out of accepted distribution; birds were present there in 2018 as well.
- Eurasian Coot, Fulica atra: numbers of birds on lake Argyle and a few around Kununurra as well.
- Australian Bustard, Ardeotis australis: two birds seen roadside in Gregory NP, also up to a dozen out on big island in Lake Argyle.
- Bush Stone-Curlew, Burhinus grallarius: pair seen well at East Point in Darwin, others seen/heard at places throughout tour.
- Australian Pied Oystercatcher, Haematopus longirostris: only birds seen were on mudflats at mouth of Buffalo Creek, Darwin.
- White-headed (Black-winged) Stilt, Himantopus leucocephalus: seen on wetlands here and there throughout tour, biggest numbers seen in shallows out on Lake Argyle.
- Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva: up to a dozen seen on rocks, waiting for tide to drop at Lee Point, Darwin.
- Red-capped Plover, Charadrius ruficapillus: mudflats at mouth of Buffalo Creek, Darwin. Also many out on shallows in Lake Argyle.
- Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus: small numbers on mudflats at mouth of Buffalo Creek, Darwin.
- Greater Sand Plover, Charadrius leschenaultii: small numbers on mudflats at mouth of Buffalo Creek, Darwin.
- Black-fronted Dotterel, Elseyornis melanops: several at wetland in Pine Cree, many out on shallows in Lake Argyle.
- Red-kneed Dotterel, Erythrogonys cinctus: few out on shallows in Lake Argyle, one of shich was chased momentarily by the Black Falcon.
- Masked Lapwing, Vanellus miles: common bird throughout tour, in open areas and near water.
- Comb-crested Jacana, Irediparra gallinacea: common on almost any large body of water with floating vegetation, especially at Lake Argyle.
- Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus: single individual seen with other waders on coastal rocks at East Point, Darwin.
- Grey-tailed Tattler, Tringa brevipes: flock of a dozen seen with other waders on coastal rocks at East Point, Darwin.
- Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres: small numbers on mudflats at mouth of Buffalo Creek, and with other waders on coastal rocks at East Point, Darwin.
- Great Knot, Calidris tenuirostris: large flock of what appeared to be this species on mudflats at mouth of Buffalo Creek, Darwin.
- Australian Pratincole, Stiltia isabella: several seen around shoreline of large island out on Lake Argyle.
- Gull-billed (Australian) Tern, Gelochelidon nilotica (macrotarsa): several seen around Darwin area, Kakadu NP and on Lake Argyle. The Australian subspecies macrotarsa has recently been split from Gull-billed Tern, G. nilotica according to the taxonomic sequence following IOC World Bird List, version 9.2. However, this change is not as yet accepted by the Clements Checklist of The Birds of the World Taxonomy, v2018.
- Caspian Tern, Hydroprogne caspia: individuals seen over the Victoria River near Timber Creek and out on Lake Argyle.
- Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybrida: small numbers seen over a few wetlands throughout tour.
- Black-naped Tern, Sterna sumatrana: a handful of these semi-pelagic tropical terns flew in off the sea whilst we watched other terns and waders at East Point, Darwin.
- Lesser Crested Tern, Thalasseus benghalensis: two birds seen with other terns and waders at East point, Darwin.
- Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii: reasonable numbers around coastal areas of Darwin.
- Silver Gull, Croicocephalus novaehollandiae: small numbers around Darwin area.
- Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus banksii: good numbers seen throughout tour, a spectacular bird.
- Galah, Eolophus roseicapillus: seen on several days, throughout inland areas.
- Little Corella, Cacatua sanguinea: flocks seen throughout inland areas, including a large flock at Howard Springs.
- Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua galerita: seen in a number of places over the course of the tour.
- Cockatiel, Nymphicus hollandicus: first seen as a pair at Pine Creek, then larger flocks seen elsewhere en route to Kununurra.
- Red-collared (Rainbow) Lorikeet, Trichoglossus rubritorquis(haematodus/mollucanus): seen on several occasions throughout tour, mostly in flight. This is a confusing species complex, as the rubritorquis taxon is split from Rainbow Lorikeet, T. haemotodus/mollucanus according to IOC taxonomy, but not in Clements taxonomy. Furthermore, Clements differs from IOC in that it still uses haematodus for the specific scientific name, not mollucanus.
- Varied Lorikeet, Psitteuteles varius: unfortunately not seen by everyone, with a single bird that took flight before all could view it, in Gregory NP. Several flocks seen in flight on dusk whilst driving toward Kakadu NP as well.
- Red-winged Parrot, Aprosmictus erythropterus: fairly common throughout tour, and seen well on a few occasions.
- Northern Rosella, Platycercus venustus: a good-sized flock seen in southern part of Kakadu NP. Also seen in a few other areas later in tour.
- Hooded Parrot, Psephotus dissimilis: wonderful views of several birds in township of Pine Creek, NT. A beautiful species.
- Budgerigar, Melopsittacus undulatus: the only record we have of this species for the tour is of birds heard flying overhead, near Timber Creek, that were unfortunately not seen.
- Pheasant Coucal, Centropus phasianinus: seen reasonably well on about three occasions throughout tour.
- Channel-billed Cuckoo, Scythrops novaehollandiae: a late-departing pair of birds (most if not all of population migrates to PNG) was seen in flight as they crossed over the Kakadu Highway whilst we were en route to our accommodation.
- Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Chalcites lucidus: a very much out of range individual of the subspecies plagosus seen at Fogg Dam. Photographs were taken and sent off for further adjudication.
- Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Chalcites minutillus: only bird we saw was in littoral rainforest at Fogg Dam.
- Pallid Cuckoo, Cacomantis pallidus: individual birds heard in two separate locations within Kakadu NP.
- Brush Cuckoo, Cacomantis variolosus: a juvenile or immature seen briefly in littoral rainforest at Fogg Dam. An adult was seen whilst on the Yellow Waters Cruise in Kakadu NP.
- Rufous Owl, Ninox rufa: the well-known and well-watched pair of birds in George Brown Botanic Gardens, Darwin.
- Barking Owl, Ninox connivens: pairs heard in a couple of locations at night in Kakadu NP, unfortunately remaining unseen.
- Azure Kingfisher, Ceyx azurea: seen well in mangroves at Buffalo Creek, Darwin as well as on Yellow Waters Cruise in Kakadu NP.
- Blue-winged Kookaburra, Dacelo leachii: heard and/or seen on every day of the tour.
- Forest Kingfisher, Todiramphus macleayii: seen on several occasions around Darwin, Fogg Dam and in Kakadu NP.
- Red-backed Kingfisher, Todiramphus pyrrhopygius: single bird on service wires near Fogg Dam.
- Sacred Kingfisher, Todiramphus sancta: seen reasonably frequently throughout tour.
- Rainbow Bee-eater, Merops ornatus: commonly seen every day of tour.
- Rainbow Pitta, Pitta iris: beautiful adult bird seen well in littoral rainforest at Fogg Dam.
- Black-tailed Treecreeper, Climacteris melanura: pair seen well in Kakadu near Jabiru, others seen in tropical woodland east of Timber Creek.
- Great Bowerbird, Chlamydera nuchalis: commonly seen throughout tour, especially around townships and human habitation.
- Purple-crowned Fairy-wren, Malurus coronatus: male bird in eclipse plumage eventually seen well in Gregory NP, pair seen along Victoria River west of Timber Creek also.
- Red-backed Fairy-wren, Malurus melanocephalus: small parties of birds seen in several places; all were females, young birds or eclipse males.
- Weebill, Smicrornis brevirostris: seen well in woodlands throughout inland parts of tour.
- Mangrove Gerygone, Gerygone levigaster: single bird seen very well at edge of mangroves along Buffalo Creek, Darwin.
- Large-billed Gerygone, Gerygone magnirostris: pair seen in littoral rainforest at Howard Springs, east of Darwin.
- Green-backed Gerygone, Gerygone chloronota: a couple of birds in littoral rainforest and vine scrub at Howard Springs, east of Darwin.
- White-throated Gerygone, Gerygone olivacea: pair heard then seen beautifully in woodland near Pine Creek, NT.
- Red-browed Pardalote, Pardalotus rubricatus: a pair heard and seen eventually quite well in tropical woodland east of Timber Creek.
- Striated Pardalote, Pardalotus striatus: heard more often than seen, good views had nonetheless of a number of birds.
- White-lined Honeyeater, Meliphaga albilineata: it took some work but we finally were able to obtain fairly decent views of this regionally endemic species in rocky sandstone country, Kakadu NP.
- Singing Honeyeater, Gavicalis virescens: seen in a few places around Gregory NP and Timber Creek area.
- White-gaped Honeyeater, Stomiopera unicolor: a common and garrulous species throughout the region, seen every day of tour.
- Grey-fronted Honeyeater, Ptilotula plumula: seen over the course of two days in Gregory NP/Timber Creek areas.
- Yellow-tinted Honeyeater, Ptilotula flavescens: seen on a number of occasions in flowering eucalypts west of Katherine through to Kununurra.
- Yellow-throated Miner, Manorina flavigula: small flocks seen on a number of occasions in drier tropical woodland areas.
- Bar-breasted Honeyeater, Ramsayornis fasciatus: two in amongst a throng of various honeyeaters at a stand of flowering Fern-leaved Grevillea, Grevillea pteridifolia, southern Kakadu NP.
- Rufous-banded Honeyeater, Conopophila albogularis: quite common around Darwin and Fogg Dam during our visit.
- Rufous-throated Honeyeater, Conopophila rufogularis: more common south and west of Kakadu NP. Often seen in flowering native Kimberley Bauhinia, Lysiphyllum cunninghamii.
- Dusky Honeyeater, Myzomela obscura: reasonably common around Darwin and Kakadu NP
- Red-headed Honeyeater, Myzomela erythrocephala: a few seen in mangrove areas around Darwin.
- Banded Honeyeater, Cissomela pectoralis: several at a stand of flowering Fern-leaved Grevillea, Grevillea pteridifolia, southern Kakadu NP.
- Brown Honeyeater, Lichmera indistincta: common species seen and heard throughout tour.
- White-throated Honeyeater, Melithreptus albogularis: commonly seen species throughout tour.
- Blue-faced (White-quilled) Honeyeater, Entomyzon cyanotis(albipennis); a common species throughout tour. The white-quilled subspecies albipennis with broad white bases to the primaries, has been split from Blue-faced Honeyeater in IOC taxonomy.
- Helmeted Friarbird, Philemon buceroides: a few seen around mangrove and garden areas of Darwin.
- Little Friarbird, Philemon citreogularis: reasonably common throughout tour, wherever there were flowering trees.
- Yellow Chat, Epthianura crocea: several in a small party out on ‘Chat Island’, in Lake Argyle.
- Grey-crowned Babbler, Pomatostomus temporalis: several small groups seen throughout tour once we were west of Katherine, often as part of mixed-species feeding associations.
- Varied Sittella, Daphoenositta chrysoptera: two separate groups seen in separate loctions when we were east of Timber Creek.
- Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Coracina novaehollandiae: a common species seen almost every day.
- White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Coracina papuensis: seen every day of the tour, often in pairs.
- White-winged Triller, Lalage suerii: small numbers seen here and there throughout tour, mostly females and basic-plumaged males.
- Varied Triller, Lalage leucomela: regularly seen over first few days of tour in coastal mangroves, littoral forest and fringes around Darwin and Kakadu NP.
- Mangrove Golden Whistler, Pachycephala melanura: beautiful pair seen in riparian forest east of Fogg Dam.
- Grey Whistler, Pachycephala simplex: seen well in littoral rainforest patches east of Darwin.
- Rufous Whistler, Pachycephala rufiventris: common throughout tour, mostly silent migrants from the south.
- Little(Arafura) Shrike-thrush, Colluricincla megarhyncha(parvula): a pair seen well at Howard Springs. The Little Shrike-thrush complex throughout Australasia is currently being split into multiple taxa, and the parvula subspecies from the Top End is now spilt from populations in eastern Aus, being named Arafura Shrike-thrush. This is according to IOC taxonomy.
- Sandstone Shrike-thrush, Colluricincla woodwardi: single bird seen atop Arnhem Land escarpment near Ubirr, Kakadu NP, and another bird seen on rock outcrops on Lake Argyle.
- Grey Shrike-thrush, Colluricincla harmonica: seen and heard in a few places throughout tour.
- Australasian Figbird, Specotheres vieilloti: commonly seen around Darwin & Kakadu NP, less common as we travelled further west.
- Yellow Oriole, Oriolus flavocinctus: reasonably common throughout tour in littoral rainforest, riparian and coastal habitats, heard more often than seen.
- Olive-backed Oriole, Oriolus sagittatus: single immature bird seen at Fogg Dam.
- White-breasted Woodswallow, Artamus leucorhynchus: commonly seen throughout tour, with large numbers in places.
- Masked Woodswallow, Artamus personata: small flocks passing overhead at our breakfast spot on Lake Argyle.
- White-breasted Woodswallow, Artamus superciliosus: a few birds amongst Masked Woodswallow flocks at our breakfast spot on Lake Argyle.
- Black-faced Woodswallow, Artamus cinereus: seen frequently in drier regions though east Kimberley.
- Little Woodswallow, Artamus minor: small numbers seen in Kakadu NP, Gregory NP and around Kununurra.
- Black Butcherbird, Cracticus quoyi: unfortunately heard only in mangrove/woodland edge at East Point, Darwin.
- Silver-backed Butcherbird, Cracticus colletti: a trio of birds foraging on the roadside in southern Kakadu NP, good views obtained.
- Pied Butcherbird, Cracticus nigrogularis: reasonably common species seen most days of tour, beautiful song heard often as well.
- Australian Magpie, Cracticus tibicen: only one we saw was on the NT/WA border. A decidedly uncommon species in the Top End.
- Spangled Drongo, Dicrurus bracteatus: commonly seen the first four days of the tour in riparian, mangrove and littoral rainforest habitats around Darwin, Fogg Dam and Kakadu NP.
- Arafura Fantail, Rhipidura dryas: individuals seen at Howard Springs and Fogg Dam.
- Northern Fantail, Rhipidura rufiventris: unexpectedly we saw and heard this species on the first 6 days of the tour, a phenomenon I had not expected.
- Willie Wagtail, Rhipidura leucophrys: a relatively common bird seen every day of the tour.
- Little Crow, Corvus bennetti: birds matching the description of this species were heard and seen on a couple of days in the vicinity of the Victoria River region. There is some discussion since the tour about these records as it is some way north of previous historical records, however given the dry year the possibility of a few birds wandering north can’t be discounted. Confusion species would be juvenile Torresian Crows as these can have an under-developed call repertoire with superficially similar calls to Little Crow, but brown eyes. However, we definitely saw birds that looked to be adult crows, with white eyes. The jury, as they say, is still out…
- Torresian Crow, Corvus orru: the commonly seen corvid throughout the tour.
- Broad-billed Flycatcher, Myiagra ruficollis: single adult seen in mangroves at Buffalo Creek, Darwin, with birds also seen at Fogg Dam. Can be difficult to tell from female Leaden Flycatcher but generally has paler or white lores and stronger chestnut colouring on the throat/upper breast. Mangrove and riparian habitats are preferred, although Leaden can also occupy these.
- Leaden Fycatcher, Myiagra rubecula: a few birds seen in earlier parts of tour around Darwin and Kakadu NP. Only male we saw was at Nourlangie Walk in Kakadu NP.
- Shining Flycatcher, Myiagra alecto: male and female seen beautifully at Howard Springs, other birds seen at Fogg Dam.
- Paperbark Flycatcher, Myiagra nana: quite common throughout tour in a range of habitats.
- Magpie-lark, Grallina cyanoleuca: common species seen every day of tour.
- Jacky Winter, Microeca fascinans: a couple of pairs seen in tropical woodlands in Victoria River region.
- Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Microeca flavigaster: a few heard and seen around Darwin, Fogg Dam and Kakadu NP.
- Hooded Robin, Melanodryas cucullata: a pair seen in tropical woodland east of Timber Creek, near the northern edge of the species’ range.
- Mangrove Robin, Peneonanthe pulverulenta: unfortunately heard only, in mangroves at East Point, Darwin.
- Buff-sided Robin, Poecilodryas cerviniventris: a beautiful adult seen at Timber Creek early morning, plus another seen in riparian vegetation at the roadside along Victoria River west of Timber Creek.
- Golden-headed Cisticola, Cisticola exilis: adults seen in tall grassland at Timber Creek airfield, also in canegrass along Victoria River, west of Timber Creek.
- Australian Reed-warbler, Acrocephalus australis: seen in tall reeds lining watercourses around Kununurra.
- Rufous Songlark, Cinclorhamphus mathewsi: single adult bird seen amongst a mixed-species flock in open grassy woodland east of Kununurra.
- Yellow White-eye, Zosterops luteus: three birds seen foraging on the edge of mangroves at east Point, Darwin. Others heard in the area too.
- Welcome Swallow, Hirundo neoxena: single bird seen at Howard Springs, the only one of this species seen for the entire trip.
- Fairy Martin, Petrochelidon ariel: small number of birds over the Victoria River west of Timber Creek.
- Tree Martin, Petrochelidon nigricans: small numbers of birds seen around Darwin and Fogg Dam in early part of the tour.
- Mistletoebird, Dicaeum hirundinaceum: heard and seen most days of the tour.
- Zebra Finch, Taeniopygia guttata: small number of birds seen just east of Kununurra, with Diamond Doves.
- Double-barred Finch, Taeniopygia bichenovii: small number of birds seen throughout tour.
- Long-tailed Finch, Poephila acuticauda: a beautiful finch first seen in Kakadu NP, then over a number of days for the rest of the tour.
- Masked Finch, Poephila personata: small flocks of this chunky finch seen in several places, many of which had begging juveniles just out of the nest.
- Crimson Finch, Neochmia phaeton: fairly common in riparian and waterside habitats throughout tour, including several around Kununurra.
- Star Finch, Neochmia ruficauda: small flocks seen in a few places through the Victoria River region, also small numbers in Kununurra.
- Gouldian Finch, Erythrura gouldiae: a small and very well-received flock of birds with several juveniles in tow was a highlight at our lunch stop at Saddle Creek, East Kimberley. The adults consisted of both black-headed and red-headed individuals.
- Yellow-rumped Mannikin, Lonchura flaviprymna: up to half a dozen birds were seen in tall canegrass along the Victoria River west of Timber Creek.
- Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Lonchura castaneothorax: best views we had were of several birds in reedbeds at Kununurra.
- Australian Pipit, Anthus novaeseelandiae: a few birds seen out on Chat Island in Lake Argyle.
- Common Brushtail Possum, Trichosurus vulpecula arnhemensis: we observed a single, somewhat emaciated-looking individual at night in the gardens at the Travelodge in Darwin, whom begged for our dinner. This taxon may be split in future as a separate species from the eastern/southern populations of Brushtail Possum – Northern Brushtail Possum.
- Agile Wallaby, Macropus agilis: the common macropod of the region, with small numbers seen throughout tour.
- Antilopine Wallaroo, Macropus antilopinus: we saw a few examples of this handsome, large, sandy-coloured kangaroo in Kakadu NP and through the Victoria River region.
- Black Wallaroo, Macropus bernardus: a fine example of this dark, thickset wallaby was seen at the base of Nourlangie Rock, Kakadu NP, and we were able to watch it at leisure for some time before it retreated. A rare and range-restricted species.
- Short-eared Rock Wallaby, Petrogale brachyotis: small numbers of this small rock wallaby seen amongst rocky outcrops on Lake Argyle.
- Black Flying-fox, Pteropus alecto: large numbers seen around Darwin region, at dusk and in daytime roosts.
- Dingo, Canis lupus dingo: a few seen in Kakadu NP looked to have features fairly consistent with true dingo.
- Horse, Equus caballus: a small number of feral “Swamp Horse” were seen at Yellow Waters in Kakadu NP, believed to be a population that has established when several work horses were let loose early last century.
- Donkey, Equus asinus: a small group of feral donkeys was seen in wooded, unfenced pastoral country south of Kakadu NP.
- Swamp (Water) Buffalo, Bubalus bubalis: several groups seen on floodplain areas of Fogg Dam & Kakadu NP.
- Pig, Sus scrofa: small numbers of feral pig seen on South Alligator Floodplain, Kakadu NP.
- Australian Humpback Dolphin, Sousa sahulensis: small pod of this distinctive dolphin seen just offshore at East Point, Darwin.
- Freshwater Crocodile, Crocodylus johnstonei: several individuals seen on Lake Argyle.
- Estuarine Crocodile, Crocodylus porosus: a number seen in Kakadu NP and along the Victoria River west of Timber Creek.
- Northern Yellow-faced Turtle, Emydura tanybaraga: small numbers seen in a billabong at Howard Springs.
- Asian House Gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus: the distinctive high-pitched barking calls of this introduced species were heard here and there, but not as common as expected.
- Swanson’s Snake-eyed Skink, Cryptoblepharus cygnatus: a few small skinks seen at various locations were in this genus. They were most likely this species from appearance, but could also be C. metallicus.
- Gilbert’s Dragon, Lophognathus gilberti: one seen on water’s edge at Lilypad Lagoon, Kununurra.
- Merten’s Water Monitor, Varanus mertensi: a fairly hefty-looking individual seen basking on a log overhanging a billabong, near Howard Springs.
- Arafure File Snake, Acrochordus arafurae: we watched a magnificent-looking specimen swimming underwater at a billabong near Howard Springs, a real treat and a seldom seen species.