Top End & East Kimberley Trip - 14 to 27 August 2004

To: "'Russell Woodford'" <>, "'birding aus'" <>
Subject: Top End & East Kimberley Trip - 14 to 27 August 2004
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Sun, 29 Aug 2004 23:46:42 +1000
Just came back from a 2 week trip in Top End and the East Kimberley WA
(14th to 27th August 2004) with lots of magical experiences. My many
highlights included the following:

CRACKING THE 600 mark with an Australian life list now of 621. I managed
to see 38 new birds plus many new sub species. I was very happy to see
the entire top end Parrots, Finches, Honeyeaters and Pigeons.

KAKADU ENDEMICS ?  all 4 seen including White-throated Grasswrens
(marvelous views of 5), a nice adult Banded Fruit-dove, Chestnut-quilled
Rock Pigeon (3) and several White-lined Honeyeaters.

RED GOSHAWKS ? a pair nesting in the Katherine area. Saw the male
actually catch a Dove and give it to the female to feed. The female then
landed on the ground with the catch near me and then eventually went
back to the nest.

RUFOUS OWLS ? a family of 3 (2 adults and a well advanced chick) seen on
2 visits at the Darwin Botanic Gardens. During the day saw one of the
adults feed on a rat and the young bird on a Northern Brushtail Possum.
Saw one of the adults call before dusk. I also heard a Rufous Owl in
Muirella Park in Kakadu.

CHESTNUT RAILS ? a pair seen (and copulating) at Buffalo Creek.

WHITE-QUILLED ROCK PIGEON ? great views of one on the Victoria River

GREAT-BILLED HERON ? great views of one out in the open at Buffalo

RAINBOW PITTAS ? very obliging pair at Howard Springs and single birds
seen at Fogg Dam, Buffalo Creek and East Point. I also heard them at the
Adelaide River Bridge.

GOULDIAN FINCHES ? 100 or so in Pine Creek feeding with many other
finches and Hooded Parrots. There were only a few beautifully plumaged
?red headed? and ?black headed? adults amongst the majority of
Immature/juv. birds. There were also many Long-tailed, Masked,
Double-barred and Crimson Finches with the Gouldians.

HOODED PARROTS ? about 100 seen in total in 3 places around Pine Creek
and Katherine. Only a few full coloured mature adult males seen amongst
the females and Immature birds. At one stage saw both Hooded Parrots and
Gouldian Finches in the one tree.

CHESTNUT-BACKED BUTTON QUAIL ? saw one after flushing so many Brown

PURPLE-CROWNED WRENS ? a stunning plumaged male (such electrifying
colours on the crown) in one of the 2 groups seen around Victoria River.

PICTORELLA MANNIKINS ? 2 to 4 seen along the Buntine HWY. Other birdos
saw a flock of them with Yellow-rumps at Victoria River.

YELLOW-RUMPED MANNIKINS ? a flock of 20 at Timber Creek and a few at
Kununurra in WA (with 50 plus STAR FINCHE)

OTHER INTERESTING BIRDS ? Black-breasted Buzzards (2 seen along Victoria
HWY), Varied Lorikeets (3 locations), Black-tailed Tree-creepers (3
locations), Red-browed Pardalotes (along Buntine HWY), Mangrove Golden
Whistlers (several along Adelaide River Bridge), pair of White-browed
Robins (Timber Creek), Sandstone Shrike-thrush (3 seen at Gunlom and
heard at other places in Kakadu. I also saw one them at Victoria River),
Banded and Grey-fronted Honeyeaters, Brown Booby and a Black-naped Tern
at Lee Pt (the later a Darwin rarity), lots of waders around Darwin etc

YELLOW WATER CRUISE ? water birds in their thousands with great looks of
Black Bittern , nesting Black-necked Storks, Brolgas, thousands of
Whistling-ducks etc, and the Estuarine Crocodiles!

Barking Owls, Rufous Owl, Large-tailed Nightjar, Owlet Nightjar, Nankeen
Night Heron, Crocodiles, Whistling-ducks, Wild Pigs (around the camping
area at night!) etc

PHOTOGRAPHY ? easy to photograph Spinifex Pigeons at Lake Argyle,
Partridge Pigeons in Kakadu and Comb-crested Jacanas at Fogg Dam

OTHER INTERESTING ANIMALS ? Several Short-eared Rock Wallabies (at Ubirr
in Kakadu, Victoria River and Lake Argyle), 2 Indo-Pacific Humpback
Dolphins at Buffalo Creek, a few Gilberts Dragons, lots of Estuarine
(one 4.5 metres) and Freshwater Crocodiles, Archer Fish on Lake Argyle
Cruise, Rainbow Fish etc etc

BEAUTIFUL SCENERY ? Ubirr and other places in Kakadu, Victoria River,
Lake Argyle sunset

MEETING NEW PEOPLE - birdos and non-birders.

ABORIGINAL CULTURE ? slide show on collecting bush tucker at Gunlom.
Also very interesting rock art at Ubirr and Nourlangie Rock.

DISSAPOINTMENTS ? Cane Toads at Gunlom and all the mozzies and sand
flies that bit me at Buffalo Creek.

A ?BIG? Thanks Niven McCrie for his excellent advice, showing me around
Leanyer Sewerage Works for the Little-ringed Plover (which I
unfortunately missed and the Spotted Redshank at Lee Pt) and his
excellent book (which made birding in the top end heaps easier). Also
thanks to other birdos who gave me advice.

Edwin Vella

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