Northern Territory Trip Report

Subject: Northern Territory Trip Report
From: (John Leonard)
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 1997 10:55:31 +1000 (EST)
Well, we're back. We had a great time in the Territory and saw 150 bird
species, including 29 new ones for me and inumerable new subspecies and
forms, as well as the other wildlife.

I missed most of the most sought after things (Chestnut Rail, White-throated
Grasswren, Banded Fruit-Dove and Gouldian Finch), but we did see Hooded
Parrots and it's a toss up whether they, or the Black-breasted Buzzards we
saw near Katherine, were the highlight.

I wasn't able to devote as much time (viz 25 hours a day) as I usually do to
bird-watching as this was a family holiday, self, partner, and two young
children in a camper-van. During the holdiay both children came down with
chicken-pox and as well as that both suffer from incurable naughtiness, so I
don't think we did too badly really.

All the sites I went to are either in Thomas and Thomas, Bransbury or Niven
Mcrie's Web Page, so I won't give a long trip report, just a few
observations and queries:

* It's very easy to see Large-tailed Nightjar at Howard Springs?at dusk five
or six were circling over the Spring and could easily be spot-lit, Rainbow
Pitta are easy there too;

* Are Torresian Imperial Pigeons resident in Darwin? I thought I saw one
vanishing in the distance, but couldn't be sure;

* I went up Gunlom Escarment at dawn, hoping to see the White-throated
Grasswrens, but dipped. However I did get 2nd, 3rd and 4th prizes, viz
Chestnut-quilled Rock-dove, Sandstone Shrike-thrush and White-lined
Honeyeater, as well as the Arnhem Land race of the Helmeted Friarbird and
the Variegated Frairywren, so it's definitely worth the climb;

*Stag Creek, which Thomas and Thomas have as a site for the Banded Fruit
Dove is not a nice place?I climbed up the gully past the 'Warning Old Mine
Site, Radioactive', to find that one side of the gully had been quarried to
leave a vertical rock face and 'step' at the bottom and both these surfaces
were thickly covered in white and yellow salts (presumably uranium salts). I
lost all enthusiasm for Banded Fruit Doves after this and rapidly retreated.
Can someone comment on the likely chemistry and toxicity of those salts?

*we saw Hooded Parrots at Ferguson River north of Katherine (in Thomas and
Thomas), but we were lucky?we arrived at about 8.30am, the parrots (c.40)
arrived at 8.35, spent ten minutes flocking, five minutes drinking, and were

*it's very easy to see Lilac-crowned Fairywrens at Victoria River Roadhouse
camp-site. We aslo saw lots of other things there, including Yellow-tinted
Honeyeater, a bird I didn't even have on my 'hit-list';

*Honmeaters were quite abundant around the areas where we went, especially
Rufous-banded, Brown, Dusky and White-throated. We also saw Banded,
Rufous-throated, and, near the coast Red-headed, easily, but in the whole
two weeks, only one Bar-breasted;

*Mangroves?as usual I had great difficulty with mangroves and their birds:
Adeliade River was good for Mangrove Golden Whistler and Buffalo Creek for
Red-headed Honeyeater, Yellow White-eye, Green-backed and Long-billed

If I think of any more tips I'll do another posting. Or if anyone would like
any info on what we saw where I'll be happy to tell them.


Dr John Leonard
PO Box 243, Woden,

Great Oxymorons of the World:
No.1: an Interesting Drunk

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