Back at work and slowly returning to normal it is time to write up the
highlights of birding in November. From 10 to 25 November I was travelling
in three states with members of the Gay Birders Club from England.
Nineteen of us in the Northern Territory and sixteen for the rest of the
trip. The weather was hot, humid and smokey (Darwin & Sydney), cold and
raining (Werribee) and beautiful throughout. For the period 2 to 9 November
I was in Sydney competing at the Gay Games but did get a day off to go
Be warned, this a lengthy report in two parts.
8/11 A day birding with Irene as guide. Alan Grennon, his mother and
three friends joined us for the morning. Started at McGraths Hill where
several Baillons Crake were visible from the road. Glossy Ibis also made an
appearance. On to Mitchell Park, shrouded in smoke and the gate closed.
Walked to the bottom of the hill, picking up Brush Cuckoo, White-breasted
Sea-eagle and Noisy Friarbird. White-throated Gerygone were calling but
hiding from view. Just Irene and I left by the time we hit Pitt Town Lagoon
at 2.30pm. Our insanity was showing as we later found the temperature was 39
degrees at the time, but there was another birder present. No luck with King
Quail, this southerner having to be satisfied with Chestnut-breasted
Mannikin for her year list.
10/11 Leave sydney at 7am for Darwin, to join the rest of the party. Into
the cars and off towards Kakadu. Along the road, Australian Pratincole,
Little Curlew, Black-faced Woodswallow, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. A stop at
Fogg Dam for White-browed Crake, Rose-crowned fruit-Dove, Little Bronze
Cuckoo, Varied Triller, Leaden Flycatcher, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Yellow
Oriole, Koel, Crimson and Double-barred Finch. Overnight at South Alligator
11/11 Travel to Cooinda. At the Kakadu Visitor center found a
Black-tailed Treecreeper and Masked Finch, Emerald Dove, Wandering Whistling
Duck and Red-backed Fairy Wren were other highlights along the way. At
Cooinda, Barking Owl and Bush Thick-knee excited as after dinner delights.
12/11 High up on the escarpment at Nourlangie a Banded Fruit-dove was
viewed with the help of the thirteen telescopes we were travelling with.
White-lined Honeyeater graced the foot of the escarpment. Grey-crowned
Babbler, Helmeted and Silver-crowned Friarbirds, and close ups of
BTTreecreeper were also to be had. A look at Yellow Waters in the heat of
the day turned up Long-tailed Finch and White-winged Black Tern.
Chestnut-backed Button-quail were briefly seen in flight at Mardugal
campground. The rainforest walk at Cahills crossing provided excellent
extended views of a Rainbow Pitta as well as a pair of Shining Flycatcher
nest building. The sunset at Ubirr was obscured by smoke from the many
bushfires, but Little Shrike-thrush and Fork-tailed Swift were highlights.
13/11 The early morning Yellow Waters cruise was unbelievable. As there
were 19 birders we were given an exclusive boat. No fighting tourists for
views of birds and no chasing down every crocodile around. The focus was
very much the birds and it was worth it. White-breasted Woodswallow,
Buff-banded Rail, White-browed Crake, Bar-breasted
Honeyeater, Little Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper, Pheasant Coucal and
Great-billed Heron, to name a few of the 70 species seen close at hand.
After breakfast, back to Darwin, with time in the late afternoon for a trip
to Buffalo Creek where the Chestnut Rail showe itself briefly. Red-headed
Honeyeater, Green-backed Gerygone, Yellow White-eye, Black Butcherbird added
to the list. The English were less impressed but the four Australians were
pleased to see two Barn Swallow.
14/11 The English departed for Uluru, leaving the Australians to continue
their Darwin experience for another three nights. Knuckey's Lagoon was
essentially dry but 4 Yellow Wagtail created excitement. Much bashing
through the grass failed to find Zitting Cisticola but did scare out some
Brown Quail and Singing Bushlark. East Point failed to turn up any Beach
Thick-knee, Striated Heron and Eastern Reef Egret on the mud-flats and
exceptional views of Rose-crowned Fruit-dove in the rainforest were
15/11 At 7am we were back at Buffalo Creek unsuccessfully trying for
another look at the Chestnut Rail. A trip back south to Adelaide River and
pesistance in the midst of mosquitoes trying to take us home for lunch
eventually provided a Mangrove Golden Whistler and Broad-billed Flycatcher.
Gloating, back in the cafe, having done the hard yards, we were rewarded for
our efforts with fly byes of the Whistler allowing us an easy consolidation.
Wetlands along the Arnhem Hwy unusually had a pair of Red-necked Avocet.
Fogg Dam for lunch and the Rainbow Pitta made an appearance on the
rainforest walk, in the burnt out section. Pied Butcherbird and Blue-faced
Honeyeater broke the journey back to Darwin. A couple of hours back at East
Beach playing with a variety of waders that I don't usually see down south:
Mongolian Plover, Greater Sand-plover, Ruddy turnstone, Terek Sandpiper,
Great Knot, Grey-tailed Tattler, Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Pacific Golden
plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Red-necked Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Common
Greenshank and Common Sandpiper. A second trip for the day to Buffalo Creek,
exactly 12 hours after the first, found a Great-Billed Heron.
16/11 Early birding plans out the window with the rain and lightning. A
trip to Caduarina Reserve at Lee Point gave another look at two Barn Swallow
among the Tree Martin, then it was off to the airport. Only at Darwin can
you get Pratincole and Little Curlew from the plane! I flew back to Sydney
to rejoin the English birders and the other Australians returned home.
More to follow.
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