Darwin Trip Report day 2&3

To: <>
Subject: Darwin Trip Report day 2&3
From: Lee Mason <>
Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2007 16:47:00 +1030
Hi all,

Continuing my Darwin report..

Day 2
No rest for the birder (and my apprentice birders), we were up at 5am for a 
drive down to the township of Pine Creek.  Despite the limited time I had in NT 
I wanted to see at least one uncommon bird and Hooded Parrots seemed like a 
nice choice with Pine Creek being mentioned as a reliable site.  The drive down 
was uneventful with mainly black and whistling kites, and one Wedge-tailed 

We arrived at Pine Creek at 7:50am and went straight to the small park near the 
hotel and gas station which is mentioned in Niven’s book.  A quick scan 
revealed a pair of birds on the ground, we moved closer and they turned out to 
be Northern Rosellas, not what we were after, but another new bird anyway.  The 
park also had Galahs (much paler and less pink), Masked Lapwings, Magpie Larks 
and Yellow-throated Miners but no sign of Hooded Parrots.  We had all but 
decided to move on to the next location when a single Hooded Parrot landed in 
the tree next to our car.  A couple of minutes later a further five birds flew 
in, shortly followed by another group which included the beautifully colored 
male.  We spent some time watching and photographing these beautiful birds 
which seemed completely at ease with us as they foraged on the grass near our 

The mine lookout and water tower at Pine Creek were less exciting with only 
Red-tailed Black Cockatoos being sighted.  The Pine Creek Sewage Ponds had 
Australasian Grebe, Hardhead, Grey Teal, Black-wing Stilts and Black-fronted 
Dotterals.  Driving back to the township we made a stop to photograph some 
termite mounds which turned out to be a good choice as we saw Mistletoebirds, 
Grey-crowned Babblers, White Bellied and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes, 
White-throated Gerygone, Varied Sittella and three Bustards.

The Pine Creek Water Gardens had Galahs, Figbirds, White-gaped Honeyeater, 
Rainbow Bee-eaters and another new bird, White-winged Triller.  Thanks to a tip 
by some locals we also found a Great Bowerbird's bower, although the Bowerbird 
was somewhat shy and it took a while before we got good views.
Leaving Pine Creek, we stopped at the Adelaide River pub for lunch and enjoyed 
barra and chips whilst surrounded by Great Bowerbirds, Kites and Pied Imperial 
Pigeons.  While there I also saw my first Lemon-bellied Flycatcher.

Arriving back in Darwin late afternoon we headed straight to the Botanical 
Gardens for the Rufus Owls.  Unfortunately we were out of luck as they could 
not be seen in the regular tree or any of the surrounding trees.  Nor was there 
any sign of them in their second regular location near the garden’s higher 
carpark/rainforest walk.  The next day we phoned the garden’s caretaker and he 
said the owls had not been seen since the tree had been pruned back???

Day 3
My last day in NT and first stop was Fogg Dam.  We arrived just before sunrise 
and drove across the dam wall to the observation tower to watch the sunrise.  
Sunrise was just magical, as the sun climbed the colors in the sky made for 
great photos while the morning chorus of bird calls increased in intensity.  
Flocks of Magpie Geese were all over the area, Egrets and Pied Herons could be 
seen in the grass and water, Black-necked storks, Radjah Shelducks and 
Wandering Whistling Ducks were all in the small lagoon close to the tower.  The 
surrounding native and Pandanus forest was alive with birds darting around and 
calling, Crimson Finches, Mistletoebirds, Rainbow Bee-eaters, Yellow Figbirds, 
Rose-crowned Fruit-doves, Pied Imperial Pigeons, Rufus-banded Honeyeaters, my 
first Restless (Paperbark) Flycatchers and Broad-billed Flycatchers (another 
new tick).  The walk back across the wall was fantastic with great views of 
Green Pygmy Geese, Jacanas, Pied Herons, Brolgas and a few more Pratincoles.

Next, we took the ‘woodlands to lilies’ walk through the forest.  We didn’t see 
a lot of birds but made up for it with another three Rainbow Pittas, Yellow 
Oriole, Shining Flycatchers, Spangled Drongo and the ever present Scrubfowls.

The Adelaide River crossing is only a short drive from Fogg Dam and it came up 
in my research as a good location to see the Mangrove Golden Whistler.  Despite 
spending an hour looking, we dipped on the Whistler.  Plenty of 
Restless/Paperbark Flycatchers though, more Crimson Finches and what I’m sure 
were Green-backed Gerygones calling (although none were seen).  Since we were 
there we went on the Jumping Crocodile tour (which runs from the crossing).  I 
hadn’t planned to go croc watching, but I’m glad I did the tour as it was just 
amazing.  As boat turned around to go back, the crew started throwing small 
bits of meat out to the Kites and all of a sudden we were surrounded by about 
30 Whistling and Black Kites swooping and turning less than a metre from us.

Back at Darwin our next stop was Lee Point, but it was too hot for a lot birds 
to be found with the highlight being a couple of the NT Striated Pardalotes.  
Since we were close, we made a quick stop at Buffalo Creek but again the day’s 
heat made birds very scarce.

My final location for the trip was the Nightcliff esplanade walk which was 
quite good with Pied Imperial Pigeons, Brown Honeyeaters, Helmeted Friarbirds, 
Figbirds, Bar-shouldered and Peaceful Doves, Red-collared Lorikeets and the 
ever present Black Kites easily seen.  After a long, hot day we all enjoyed 
some Barra and chips while we watched the sun set over the ocean.

All up, my first trip to Darwin was excellent.  I had a hit list of 30 new 
birds which I reasonably thought I could find given the time available and 
locations I wanted to see and I ended up with 26 so I’m very pleased. The final 
total was about 115 birds.

I had some notable misses including Green-backed Gerygone (possibly ‘heard’ and 
whilst I saw a few ‘Gerygone’ looking birds none stood out as being 
‘Green-backed’), Silver-crowned Friarbirds also kept themselves well hidden.  I 
also dipped on Varied Lorikeets, Rufus-throated Honeyeater, Masked Finch, the 
NT Whistlers (Grey, White-breasted and Mangrove), not one Fantail was seen and 
I’m sure I heard a Black Butcherbird but it remained well hidden.  No crakes or 
bitterns were seen at Fogg Dam (we were probably too late by the time we got to 
the lilies walk) and I ran out of time to try for the Chestnut Rail or 
Great-billed Heron at Buffalo Creek.  I also dipped on the Black-breasted 
Buzzard which I hoped to see on our Pine Creek trip.  All part of the fun I 
guess and anyway, now I have an excuse to return.

Niven McCrie’s book is excellent and certainly made planning the trip much 
easier.  There is a wealth of info, details, trip reports and advice in the 
Birding-Aus archives which was also very handy. If anyone wants further info 
please drop me an email (use my work address if you need a quick reply 
 Thanks, hope you enjoyed my report and happy 
birding.  Lee Mason Hervey Bay, QLD
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