Kimberley and Top End 07 Trip Report

Subject: Kimberley and Top End 07 Trip Report
From: Frank Pierce / Janet Mattiske <>
Date: Sun, 09 Sep 2007 14:36:08 +1000
Kimberley and Top End 07 Trip Report

Janet and I set off on 2/06/07 from Melbourne, for a 3 month trip to the Kimberley and the Top End. Our aim was to 'mop-up' species and subspecies missed on our trips of '01 to the Top End and '02 to WA, while keeping an eye out for vagrants and over-wintering summer migrant species that were on our wish-list.

Serious birding started near Alice Springs, then up the Tanami, stopping at Newhaven and Lake Gregory. From Halls Creek we headed for Windjana Gorge and then east along the Gibb River Rd. We spent 9 days at Charnley River Station (formerly Beverley Springs) due to significant unseasonal rain (99mm in 1.5 days and more 3 days later). We then went north to Kalumburu and the Mitchell Plateau, with 2 stops at Drysdale River, before continuing east to Kununurra, Timber Creek, Katherine and then to Darwin, where we stayed for 10 days.

From Darwin we meandered southward taking in Kakadu, Katherine area, Roper River area, Barkly Tableland, Davenport Ranges NP, Alice Springs, Mac Clark CR, Oodnadatta Track, Strzelecki Track, Coongie Lakes, Gammon Ranges NP and Adelaide. We arrived back in Melbourne on 30/8/07.

The weather was fine for the whole 3 months except for the rain in the Kimberley. Road conditions were generally better than expected. Temperatures were generally comfortable and insects weren't too bad except for bush-flies south of Alice. We tried to visit the places that we had bypassed on our previous trips.

280 species were seen. This is lower than other trips, however the focus was on hunting the targets, and other sightings were generally incidental.

New Species Seen
Kite, Letter-winged 22 & 25/8 - Strzelecki Track (see report of 29/08/07) Button-quail, Chestnut-backed 3/7 - Mitchell Plateau 0.5k n of Surveyors Pool turnoff (also seen at Chainman Creek, w of Katherine)

Target Subspecies Seen
Quail, King colletti 22/7 - Holmes Jungle (also seen South Alligator River Floodplain and Knuckeys Lagoon) Egret, Little garzetta 27/7 - Leanyer STP Pigeon, Partridge blaauwi 5/7 - Mitchell River Falls Campground Owl, Masked kimberli 15/6 - Windjana Gorge Pitta, Rainbow johnstoneiana 3/7 - Mitchell Plateau 4k n of Surveyors Pool turnoff Treecreeper, White-browed supercilliosa 6/6 - Ilparpa Rd, (1.8k e of Gap) Alice Springs Honeyeater, Singing cooperi 17/7 - Fergusson River
Honeyeater, White-plumed          calconi              11/6      - Lake Gregory
Shrike-tit, Crested (Northern) whitei 3/8 - Central Arnhem Rd, 8.6k from Stuart Hwy Flycatcher, Shining tormenti 1/7 - Marra Garra n of Kalumburu Triller, Varied macrura 5/7 - Lily Pond above Big Merton Falls

Targets looked for but not seen
Chat, Yellow tunneyi Harrison Dam and Knuckeys Lagoon too wet due to a late finishing wet; South Alligator and Mary River Flood Plains also searched. Cicadabird melvillensis not found despite intensive searching of its NT & WA range

Other interesting Sightings
Bittern, Black 28/06/2007 Miners Pool on Drysdale River Station
Goshawk, Grey                          29/07/2007        Darwin
Goshawk, Red                           5/08/2007          Mataranka
Kite, Square-tailed                     13/07/2007        Keep River NP
Falcon, Grey (pair) 9/06/2007 Freshwater Bore Tk, 7.1k e Homestead
Sandpiper, Wood                       15/07/2007        Alice Springs STP
Sandpiper, Wood                       27/07/2007        Leanyer STP
Plover, Little Ringed                   27/07/2007        Leanyer STP
Dotterel, Inland                          24/08/2007        28k w of Innamincka
Bronzewing, Flock                     9/08/2007          Barkly Tableland
Dove, Emerald 3/07/2007 Mitchell Plateau 4k n of Surveyors Pool turnoff
Fruit-dove, Banded                     1/08/2007          Gunlom, Kakadu NP
Fruit-dove, Rose-crowned 28/07/2007 Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin
Parrot, Bourkes                         5/06/2007          5k east of Marla
Owl, Barn 9/06/2007 Newhaven Campground (Not on N'haven List)
Fairywren, Purple-crowned          14/07/2007        Victoria River Boat Ramp
Gerygone, Green-backed            15/06/2007        Windjana Gorge
Thornbill, Slaty-backed 10/06/2007 Tanami Track, (Vaughan Springs turnoff)
Whiteface, Banded                     17/08/2007        Mac Clark CR
Shrike-thrush, Sandstone           15/06/2007        Windjana Gorge
Drongo, Spangled 3/07/2007 Mitchell Plateau 4k n of Surveyors Pool turnoff
Cuckoo-shrike, Ground               10/08/2007        Barkly Tableland
Finch, Painted                           11/08/2007        Davenport Ranges NP
Finch, Gouldian 13/07/2007 Escarpment Lookout s of Timber Creek Airfield
Finch, Gouldian                         17/07/2007        50k nw of Katherine

Wish-list birds not seen
Princess Parrot (looked for at Newhaven)
Red-rumped Swallow
Pin-tailed Snipe. (One must maintain some optimism)

I averaged about 2 days searching per target. Some were easily found but the Crested Shrike-tit owed me about 8 days (6 in the Kimberley and 2+ in NT) and all avenues were exhausted for the 2 missed targets.

I saw and photographed 50 Butterfly species (26 were new for me and there were 30 'out of range' sightings recorded). I also saw 3 mammals and several reptiles that were new for me.

Thanks to the many friends and contacts who generously supplied information on sites for my targets, particularly Niven McCrie, for his book and personal advice, and Don Haddon and Ian May for advice on my new species sites. The Birdata website was a fantastic help in deciding where to concentrate my searches.

I can provide particular details of some sightings to those who wish to contact me directly.

Frank Pierce


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