Birdwatching Trip from Darwin to Broome

Subject: Birdwatching Trip from Darwin to Broome
From: Gil Langfield <>
Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 21:49:47 +1000
I hired a camper van in Darwin and spent from the 20th to 30th August
driving to Broome, visiting known spots for northern Australian
specialities.  The trip was far too rushed, about 3,300 km in 10 days.

I used Thomas and Thomas, Frank O'Connor's very detailed WWW pages and
other advice, and a trip report from about 4 years ago which was given to
me by Roger McGovern.  I had about 20 species on my "wish list" and saw
about 12.  My species notes follow.

White-throated Grasswren:  I was not confident to drive the camper van
across the creek (under repair) to Gunlom Falls (Waterfall Creek) and so
looked for this species near Plum Tree Creek.  Danny Rogers had reported
seeing it there as had someone in an article in an old "Wingspan".  I
looked about 2 km NW of the Plum Tree Creek crossing for about 2.5 hours
without success.

Gouldian Finch:  This was the big disappointment.  The sites around
Katherine (Fergusson River, Chinaman's Creek) did not yield any birds
because following the floods earlier this year (?) there was still plenty
of water everywhere and the birds were probably dispersed.  Further west,
very low rainfall in the East Kimberley meant there was no water for
example at Brandy Bottle Creek.  I was told they came in the morning to the
swimming pool at the motel at Lake Argyle - they did not come from 0530 to
0700.  I looked for them at the Grotto without success.  At the famous
site, the Wyndham Caravan Park, they had not been seen for about 10 days
(Roger McGovern in 1994 saw 70).  I missed them here as well.  I heard
reports that people had seen one or two at Pine Creek, but this was when I
was miles past Pine Creek.  Is the parasite reported in the NT birds also
affecting the WA population of this lovely bird?

White-quilled Rock-Pigeon:  I saw one at the escarpment walk just past the
Victoria River Roadhouse which did not appear to have any white in the
wings.  Later, I saw pairs at the Grotto with very prominent white quills.

Purple-crowned Fairy Wren:  I looked for these at the Victoria River
Roadhouse in the afternoon and evening but did not see them until the
following morning, in the same place.

Barking Owl:  As seen in Thomas and Thomas, on the petrol pumps at the
Victoria River Roadhouse.  While waiting to be fed raw meat, the owl fed on
insects attracted by the light with a 100% success rate.

Grey Falcon:  I may have seen one flying above the river at Victoria River

Pictorella Mannikin:  I looked in all the places, Parry Lagoons, Ivanhoe
Road without success.

Yellow-rumped Mannikin:  I saw many of these with Chestnut-breasted
Mannikins off Riverfarm Road, the location described accurately by Frank

Grey-fronted Honeyeater:  Thomas and Thomas suggests China Wall, near
Hall's Creek.  This was a very bleak place with very little to recommend
it.  I drove 100 km further towards Broome, stopped for the night at Mary
Pool, Mary River and saw one the following morning.

White-breasted Whistler:  This was fairly easy at Crab Creek near the
Broome Bird Observatory.

Broad-billed Flycatcher, Mangrove Golden Whistler, Kimberley Flycatcher
(ss):  George Swann found these for us in the mangroves  near Broome.

Yellow Chat:  I went on the afternoon cruise on Lake Argyle - there is no
regular morning cruise - and made it very clear to all concerned that I was
interested in seeing the YC.  Not until we were on the way back did the
person in charge tell me that since the level of the water in the lake was
very low, it was difficult to find the YCs and so they did not bother.
Apparently, one has to organise a special trip and be there when it runs.
In my case there was one a week later, which may in fact have been
cancelled.  I also looked in the location at Parry Lagoons as described by
Frank O'Connor without success.  However, I tagged along with George Swann
when he took a client to look for the YC on Roebuck Plains (where Danny
Rogers had rediscovered them) not far behind the Bird Observatory and we
saw about 30, including some lovely males.  This was private land - ask the
BBO for details.

Redshank:  There was one on the beach near the BBO.

Little Ringed Plover:  One was present at the Broome Sewage Treatment Works.

Please E-mail me if you require more information.  I will be sending most
of my observations to the Atlas.


Gil Langfield
Melbourne, Australia

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