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> From: "Gary Wright" <>
> To: "birding aus" <>
> Subject: northern territory and western australia birds
> Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2004 10:06:02 +1030
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> I have just returned from a six month trip to these two states and =
> needless to say,I had a great time. I thought I would highlight a few 
> of =
> my more significant birding experiences.
> Ellery Creek Big Hole Macdonnell ranges- golden backed form of the 
> black =
> chinned honeyeater in car park.  The only place I saw it on the trip!
> Chambers Pillar road- cinnamon quail thrush and ground cuckoo shrike.  
> =
> Cinnamon quail thrush was common on road into chambers pillar before 
> you =
> get to the sandune section.  The only other ground cuckoo shrike I saw 
> =
> on the trip was in Karijini national park.
> Ormiston Pound- painted finch
> I used McCrie and Watson extensively in Northern Territory.
> The exciting part of the trip in terms of birds started at Warloch 
> ponds =
> below Mataranka, when I started to run into new birds.  There were =
> plenty of finches there and new birds for me were:Star Finch and 
> Zitting =
> Cisticola-no trace of golden on head, extremely pale bird.  I am very =
> familiar with Golden headed cisticola.
> Mataranka was full of new birds. Bitter Springs in Elsey NP was 
> although =
> quite flooded still possible to birdwatch in.  New birds were Black =
> Bittern(readily flies and roosts in trees) rufous throated =
> honeyeater(birds with a rufous throat uncommon), shining flycatcher, =
> crimson finch(fortunately the first one seen was in the open and in 
> full =
> plumage),lemon bellied flycatcher(reminded me of robin in behaviour 
> and =
> looks) and Northern Fantail.
> Other areas of Elsey NP yielded Bar breasted honeyeater, great 
> bowerbird =
> and silver crowned friarbird.
> Central Arnhem land road yielded long tailed finch, masked finch, 
> banded =
> honeyeater and helmeted friarbird.  I flushed a button quail I 
> couldn't =
> identify-flushed on three occassions, sounded like a parrot on each =
> occassion-bird appeared a consistent rusty,deep colour.  I leaned to =
> chestnut backed button quail even though calling on flushing was =
> consistent with description of red-chested button quail in Pizzey.  I =
> havent claimed it as anything!  Anyone got any ideas?
> We went for a three week walk in Arnhem land with Willis's walkabouts =
> and although birds were not abundant, I still had many new sightings.  
> =
> The most significant being Hooded Parrot. Flushed a pair from the 
> ground =
> on third day of trip.  Walked for another 17 days without seeing a =
> one-much of it through suitable habitat-grassy woodland with termite =
> mounds, many of which had hollows bored in them.  As we were driving =
> back from our pick up point towards Manyallaluk community we came 
> across =
> a flock of 40 Hooded Parrots.  Other  new birds on the walk were =
> chestnut quilled rock pigeon(common in suitable habitat),black tailed =
> treecreeper(uncommon only two sightings), white breasted robin, great =
> billed heron(these last two were at the junction of Birdie Creek and =
> Katherine river-this was a great birding spot).  The other significant 
> =
> bird that I saw on two occassions on the walk was square tailed kite.
> Darwin was a birdwatchers paradise for a first time visitor. New birds 
> =
> everywhere you looked, although you have to look pretty hard in the =
> mangroves!  The more significant new birds for me were Rufous Owl in =
> botanic gardens, Mangrove Robin East Pt Reserve, Broad billed 
> flycatcher =
> east pt reserve, grey whistler Holmes Jungle. Little shrike thrush and 
> =
> Rainbow Pitta Howard Springs.  There is always an element of luck in =
> birdwatching and at Howard Springs the Rainbow Pitta flew across the =
> track in front of me and I was able to get good looks at it feeding.
> Kakadu yielded some very good bird watching.  A piece of luck was when 
> I =
> was looking at Black Tailed Treecreeper in Merl campground near Ubiri =
> rock and a white throated gerygone came into field of view of my =
> binoculars.  A new bird for me. You know how you get those birds that =
> you keep missing?  White throated gerygone had been one of those for 
> me =
> and that occassion is still the only one that I have seen.  Partridge =
> pigeon became  a frequently seen bird for me in Kakadu( we were there =
> for about three weeks)  Often seen at Sandy Billabong  and around the =
> Bowali visitor centre-usually opposite  on the other side of the road. 
>  =
> Saw Varied Lorikeet at Sandy Billabong but only three flying quickly =
> overhead.  I had to wait until Drysdale River to get good views adn 
> saw =
> more at Edward river in the Kimberley.  I found them not to be a 
> common =
> bird.   On the Gubara walk I saw Banded Fruit Dove(also at Koolpin =
> gorge) and also the whitel lined honeyeater at the spots indicated by =
> McCrie and Watson.  Banded fruit dove, easily missed as it feeds very =
> quietly in the trees(fig).  It took me quite a while to even find the =
> fig trees, let alone the birds!
> Gunlom was exceptional.  On the way in before you get to Plum Tree =
> Creek, Gouldian Finches flushed off of the side of the road.  =
> Approximately 30 birds, as usual vast majority immature birds but 
> black =
> faced and red faced versions.  As I was watching them five Hooded =
> Parrots flew across behind them.  On the way back saw a few immature =
> Gouldians  at a different spot on the road. 
> Gunlom of course was the white throated grasswren.  I didn't follow =
> instructions and walked for two hours over rocky spinifex hillsides 
> and =
> saw nothing.  I sat for 10 minutes on the rock recommended by McCrie 
> and =
> Watson  and got two good views of the grasswren.  I didn't find its 
> call =
> much different to fairy wren in volume(then I am going a bit deaf!)  
> On =
> the creekline below the waterfall at Gunlom I saw a pair of Barking 
> Owl =
> roosting.  Found at 3 pm by hearing the call.
> Heading west from Kakadu Thompson springs(McCrie and Watson) was an =
> excellent birding spot.  The new bird was yellow rumped mannikin(later 
> =
> to see hundreds at Kununnurra golf course) but many red backed wrens 
> and =
> golden headed cisticola.  At Victoria River crossing I eventually got =
> purple crowned fairy wren male on the bridge-good views on my last and 
> =
> third try.  Also a new bird was White Quilled Rock pigeon.  Probably 
> the =
> easiest place to see this bird is Purnululu(Bungle Bungles) Picaninny =
> Gorge walk or even on Cathedral walk.  A highlight of Purnululu, was 
> on =
> the drive back from Picanniny Gorge saw Grey Falcon catching very 
> large =
> grasshoppers which were in plague proportions.  Good views grey falcon 
> =
> circling overhead eating grasshopper from its claws.  Also spinifex 
> bird =
> at Picanninny Gorge carpark at the beginning of the walk. Camped =
> overnight in Picanninny Gorge and the sound of sandstone shrike thrush 
> =
> in the gorge was extremely beautiful-a great echo chamber.
> In Gregory National Park on the Bullita Rd, I eventually saw yellow =
> tinted honeyeater-a bird I should have seen easily by this time-from =
> here on I saw it frequently.  Also on this road there were Gouldian =
> finches red face and black face.  Timber Creek airfield was very =
> overgrown along the fence so there were none of the hoped for finches =
> but I did flush a prize-King Quail. Tiny Quail, saw chestnut under 
> males =
> tail.
> At Kununnurra, my first sighting of white browed crake was on the golf 
> =
> course walking on water in reed lined ponds.  They were very distant, =
> However at the boat ramp on Lake Kona as described in Frank O'Connor's 
> =
> webpage, there was white browed crake withina few metres walking on 
> the =
> tiniest bit of floating vegetation near the shore.  Wyndham yielded =
> Mangrove Heron a bird seen more at Broome and Karratha.  Another bird =
> seen at Karratha was Beach Stone Curlew.  I also saw Beach Stone 
> Curlew =
> at Eighty Mile Beach, but we had walked over 10 kms south along the =
> beach from caravan park.
> The big search at Mitchell Falls/Plateau was obviously going to be 
> Black =
> throated grasswren and hoping for Red Goshawk.  I suspect I saw the =
> latter near Big Mertens falls but as I was photographing rock art at 
> the =
> time and it just sailed overhead I didn't get a good enough look to =
> claim it.  However I am very familiar with square tailed kite, so if 
> you =
> are going that way keep your eyes peeled.  I got the Black throated =
> grasswren at littel mertens falls on the north or right hand side 
> going =
> out from campground by being there early in the morning and waiting =
> until I heard some wren like calls.  Unlike white throated birds could 
> =
> be carefully followed for good views.
> Broome provided many new birds and although we were there in August =
> there was still plenty of waders about-I didn't realise that so many =
> overwinter.  Lesser Frigatebird was an unexpected bonus on the beach =
> where the fossilised dinosaur footprint is. As we were a bit early the 
> =
> only new wader for me was common redshank.  Broome was really good for 
> =
> mangrove birds.  I went to Crab Creek on three occassions and on my 
> last =
> occassion there I saw all of the mangrove birds except mangrove golden 
> =
> whistler.  Those I saw were mangrove heron, (well out in the open at 
> low =
> tide in Roebuck bay near Crab Creek), broad billed flycatcher, white =
> breasted whistler, dusky gerygone,mangrove fantail, mangrove robin, 
> red =
> headed honeyeater, mangrove kingfisher and yellow white eye.  But the =
> real highlight of Broome was the yellow chat. Apparently the birds are 
> =
> there all of the time, you just need to ask at the Broome Bird =
> observatory and if it is late in the dry season like when we were 
> there, =
> be prepared to walk a long way out through the samphire.  But we were =
> rewarded with good views of a pair of yellow chats.
> Coral Bay provided one of those bits of pure luck that can make your =
> day.  We had just cleaned our snorkelling gear on piece of cement near 
> =
> fish cleaning tables and were sitting nearbly eating our lunch.. I =
> looked up and five yards away was a buff banded rail coming out from =
> large coastal saltbush to see if any pickings had been left behind.  =
> This was a new bird for me and lucky enough to have extended views.
> In terms of the rest of the trip as far as birding goes the important =
> thing was to get the west australian endemics that I didn't have.  I 
> had =
> been to WA but not south west corner adn teh previous trip had been =
> largely a wildflower expedition, so there were quite a few to get.  
> Long =
> Billed black cockatoo(near Benger swamp), red eared firetail and =
> redwinged fairy wren(Wugong gorge), Western Corella ( near town of 
> Rocky =
> Gully), Western thornbill(Walpole) and that leaves the big 
> three-western =
> bristlebird, noisy scrubird and western whipbird.  Cheynes beach 
> caravan =
> park was certainly the place to be. Hosts gave directions to find =
> western bristlebird and I had very good views, with birds calling =
> happily in front and behind me.  I found birds could be stalked.  =
> Western whipbird was in the same area as teh western bristlebird but I 
> =
> found it much harder to track down.  I spent two hours hearing it =
> frequently but even though it was in very low heath, finding it =
> impossible to see.  As I had given up and I was walking back, it flew =
> from a bush and I was able to follow it, and get some good views of it 
> =
> in another bush.
> Noisy Scrubird proved the most difficult.  I went to Waychinicup, a =
> beautiful place(carpet python, southern brown bandicoot,ringtailed =
> possum, antechinus, not to mention the wildflowers).  Spent a good 
> deal =
> of time at Frank O'Connors best site and had ear splitting calls but 
> no =
> sign of bird as grass is very thick and it is a complete wast of time =
> trying to stalk the bird.  I also went to Two Peoples Bay and sat on 
> the =
> recommended track for two  hours and saw nothing.  I did however see 
> the =
> bird near our campsite, campsite three at Waychinicup.  Early in the =
> morning, I heard it calling and followed the call down to the inlet.  =
> The vegetation is more open there and I was abel to get good views of =
> the bird on the ground-it reminded me in some ways of a small, brown =
> whipbird.
> It was a great trip-there were other foci besides birding, but the =
> birding was excellent and I added 78 new species to my life list.  
> Cape =
> York hear I come in a few years time
> Gary Wright
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