Birding in the Top End

Subject: Birding in the Top End
Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2001 13:30:34 +1000

G'day all

Lucky me had a conference in Darwin recently and managed to do some birding
during and afterwards (18-24th Sept).

The conference was held just near the Esplanade and I wandered around here most
mornings.  Figbirds, Yelow Orioles, White-bellied and Black-faced
Cuckoo-shrikes, Helmeted Friarbirds, Rufous-banded Honeyeaters, Broad-billed
Flycatchers, Varied Trillers, Double-barred Finches, etc. are easily seen.  It
is great to see Peaceful Doves and Bar-shouldered Doves wandering around
everywhere.  The Pied Imperial Pigeons (tick) are quite spectacular also.  The
bush on the cliffs here have a few Scrubfowl and I saw one Buff-banded Rail.

The conference finished on the Friday lunchtime afternoon and I walked out to
the Botanical Gardens to see Niven McRie's Rufous Owls.  No luck but I did find
what turned out to be a pair of Barking Owls (tick).

Howard Springs Nature Reserve is a great spot about 30 minutes drive from
Darwin.  Lots of good birds here: Drongo, Cicadabird, Rainbow Pitta, Blue-faced
Honeyeater, Koel, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Green-backed Gerygone (tick),
Large-billed Gerygone, Northern Fantail, Shining Flycatcher.

I spent quite a bit of time with Niven McRie on the Saturday.  He took me to see
some waders at East Point, out to the Sewerage Farm, other assorted patches of
bush and back to the Botanical Gardens.  Lots of great birds: Brown Quail,
Rufous Owl (tick), Flock Bronzewing (tick), assorted waders including Terek
Sandpiper (tick), Bush Stone-Curlew, Lesser Crested Tern, Red-headed Honeyeater,
Yellow White-eye, Long-tailed Finch, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Lemon-bellied

On Sunday I went out to Fogg Dam and spent most of the day there.  Water levels
were low (end of the dry season) but most of the water birds were present (very
few ducks).  There are now two walks through the monsoon rainforest - one on
each side of the carpark area.  Be warned if you visit here to remove all
valuables from your car.  Every parking bay had a pile of broken window glass.

I managed 63 species here in all.  Highlights were: Magpie Goose (of course),
Radjah Shelduck, Green Pygmy-Goose, Azure Kingfisher, Brush Cuckoo, Pheasant
Coucal, Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove (quite common) (tick), White-browed Crake,
Comb-crested Jacana, Australian Pratincole, Pacific Baza (pair), herons, egrets,
spoonbills, ibis, Grey and Rufous Whistlers, Rainbow Pittas and Tawny Grassbird

At Niven's suggestion I went a few km further along the highway to the Adelaide
River bridge.  This is a reliable spot for Mangrove Golden Whistlers and I
managed to see one female (tick).

Another good stop nearby was the "Windows on the Wetlands Centre".  Good views
of waterbirds (Black-necked Storks, Cattle Egrets notable).  There is a short
walk down the hill towards the highway to an historic well(?).  I sat down on a
convenient bench here and had about 15 bush bird species pay a visit in quick

On the Monday morning before returning home I called in to Knuckey's Lagoon for
more waterbirds, a White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Tawny Grassbirds and Fairy Martins.

Niven's excellent website has information on these and more places for birding
in the Darwin area -

All-up 124 species and the only non-native seen was Feral Pigeon in the city.



Steve Clark
Hamilton, Victoria, 3300

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