Re: [Birding-Aus] Trip Report Pt 2 – Top End, Kakadu NP, Sept 2007

To: "Mike Jarman" <>
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Trip Report Pt 2 – Top End, Kakadu NP, Sept 2007
From: "Dave Torr" <>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2007 15:26:02 +1000
Also just back from a quick trip there (lots of barra and chips as
well). We found Hooded Parrots at Pine Creek on two consecutive days
at 0930 by the Footy Oval having failed at all the spots in Niven's
excellent book. The Oval is on the main street opposite the historic
train, NW of the Store that Niven marks. Interestingly a friend had
them in exactly the same spot (same tree even!) almost exactly a year

On 22/09/2007, Mike Jarman <> wrote:
> 10/9/07- 11/9/07 Katherine to Kakadu
> Stopped for lunch at the visitors centre at Katherine Gorge (barra and chips 
> again).  Very busy as it was a weekend so we headed back to Katherine.  Much 
> debate in the car as to our next destination, as I could hear Star Finches, 
> Pictorella Manikins and Purple-crowned Fairy Wrens calling me from south west 
> NT.  Whilst parked under a tree in Katherine, a gang of Apostlebirds looked 
> menacing so we set off for Gunlom deciding that there weren't enough 
> waterfalls in the south west.
> Had to stop for a small party of Partridge Pigeons on the road into Gunlom.  
> Terror struck my heart when we reached Gunlom as it looked as though there 
> was no water tumbling over the escarpment and the campground was fairly busy. 
> This could be a short visit.  Talking to the camp ground manager she said 
> that White-throated Grasswrens had not been seen for a while and that one 
> couple recently had spent ten days looking for them and failed.
> Next morning we climbed the escarpment to find some lovely pools of water and 
> small but sufficient waterfalls at the top. Keen to find some cool birds I 
> headed up the valley between the two escarpments.  I could hear the faint 
> call of wrens from the vegetation, so I sat on a rock until a male and female 
> Variegated Wren paused to observe the idiot making strange squeaking noises. 
> Climbed to the top of the second escarpment where a Black Wallaroo bounded 
> effortlessly across the boulders and lorikeets and friarbirds fought over 
> Eucalypt blossoms.  Across on Escarpment No.1 a Sandstone Shrike-thrush sat 
> atop the highest rock and sang its heart out.  The gully was relatively quiet 
> with no Fruit doves seen, but a White-lined Honeyeater broke the silence.  As 
> the sun rose higher in the sky I started heading back to the creek feeling 
> sorry for myself as no rock pigeons or grasswrens were seen.  Then about 20m 
> from where Jill was sitting under a tree a Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon 
> clapped as it flew onto a rock.  Looking like a football inserted with a 
> Chupa Chup, it instantly became my favorite pigeon. Making the pigeon feel 
> uneasy with my giant eyes I decided to leave it be, to spend the hottest part 
> of day by the water with a common tree snake, a water goanna, an Azure 
> Kingfisher, and of course my lovely wife, Jill.  A walk up the first 
> escarpment in the afternoon resulted in no sightings of Grasswrens, although 
> I think one may have seen me (does that count). I had to be content with my 
> booty and plan to come back another day.  A night time walk around the plunge 
> pool was interesting when a Childrens Python crossed the track. What wasn't 
> interesting or fun was the number of fat Cane Toads sitting on the track.  
> Luckily I had brought my football boots, as they made good practice.  No owls 
> but an Owlet Nightjar caught the light as it flitted away in the nearby 
> forest.  The next morning a Peregrine Falcon bid us goodbye and we set off 
> for Cooinda.
> 11/9/07 -  12/9/07  Cooinda/ Yellow Waters Cruise, Ubirr Rock, Nourlangie 
> Rock.
> Tried of camping and not happy with cost of accommodation at Cooinda we 
> booked our early morning cruise and headed for Jabiru to compare the 
> competition and see Ubirr Rock at sunset.  I thought Jill said 15km to 
> Jabiru, it was 50.  The giant crocodile resort looked hungry but we weren't 
> about to feed it. The air at Ubirr Rock was thick with nectar as the 
> Melalucas pumped out their juices.  Little Corellas provided a soundscape as 
> we listened to the rock art interpretations and watched the sun disappear 
> over the horizon (magnificent place). Deciding that the accommodation wasn't 
> that bad after all we headed back to Cooinda Lodge, spotting a few nightjars 
> flying erratically in front of the car.
> Yellow waters cruise was fantastic.  After knocking a few Germans off the 
> pontoon into the water (joke), we managed to get the front seat. Our Guide 
> new all the birds and kept away from the other boat.  A total of 68 species 
> were seen from the boat including Brolga, Black-fronted and Red-kneed 
> Dotterel, Australian Pratincole and dozens of Nankeen Night Heron.   A pair 
> of White-bellied Sea-eagles stood proudly above their nest and a dingo chased 
> a group of pigs trying to expose a piglet.  On one of the small tributaries a 
> Little Kingfisher posed for the crowd less than 3 metres from the boat.  
> Unfortunately no Great-billed Heron, which apparently had been seen the day 
> before. The cruise is great, as the birds are conditioned to the attention 
> and barely raise an eye brow as you glide past. Oh yea, there were a few 
> crocs as well.
> Spent the rest of morning around Cooinda including the boardwalk heading back 
> to the lodge via Home Billabong.  Lots of Shinning  Flycatchers and 
> kingfishers were a highlight.  After lunch went south to do the Mardugal 
> Billabong walk.  A pair of White-browed Robins entertained us along the track 
> and a large whistler that looked like it could have been a female 
> White-breasted Whistler had a bath in the shallows.  I didn't count it, as I 
> wasn't thinking that at the time; instead I turned it into one later that 
> night.
> On to Nourlangie Rock for the afternoon.  We joined a French couple who were 
> looking perplexed as Ranger Alex Downey explained the Aboriginal Moiety 
> system of skin groups, about who you can marry and how many mothers, fathers, 
> brothers, sisters and cousins you would have, which is many.  Alex was great, 
> after the talk he showed us where the fruit doves were that morning.  "See 
> this tree, there was one right there".  He did show us a nesting pair of 
> Black-tailed Treecreepers though and recited some wonderful poetry about rock 
> pigeons and lizards.  Apparently rock pigeons have not been seen there in 
> numbers for many years.  "Once upon a time you had to kick them out of the 
> way".  Walking the circuit one more time past the magnificent artwork, Jill 
> spotted a lone Banded Fruit-dove above our heads.  Calls from White-lined 
> Honeyeaters echoed through the rock fissures.
> Camped at Merl Campground that night with the spotlight honing in on a 
> Northern Ringtail Possum. One of the nicer campgrounds in Kakadu.  Heard a 
> Channel-billed Cuckoo call in the early morning. The nearby Manngarree Walk 
> where pitta are seen sometimes was closed, but a large camp of Black Flying 
> Foxes could be seen from the carpark.
> 12/9/07 Mamukala Wetlands and Fogg Dam
> Mamukala Wetlands was worth the stop, just for the shear numbers of birds in 
> one location.  The horizon was painted with whistling ducks whilst Whiskered 
> and Gull-billed terns patrolled the swamp.  First record of Black Duck for 
> the trip. Noticed quite a few Brush Cuckoos on the woodland track walk and 
> saw a single Curlew Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Aust Pratincole 
> where the track meets the water. Long tailed Finches and the various 
> flycatchers were also seen.
> Stopped into Mary River Park thinking that maybe we could go on a cruise and 
> bag a great-billed heron.  The park has been sold and the new owners are 
> looking at a new direction, such as fishing and functions.
> Arrived at "Eden at Fogg Dam" in the afternoon after an intensely busy 
> holiday.  Spent the afternoon around the dam, just enjoying the birds and 
> reflecting on the trip.  Unfortunately though, the hunting season had just 
> begun, so we had to listen to gunshots from the nearby Harrison Dam at dusk. 
> On the whole it was a great place to finish up before we headed back to 
> Darwin and was very comfortable.  In the morning I drove down to the Adelaide 
> River Bridge hoping to see whistlers.  Leaving in the dark the mozzie spray 
> was left behind.  The compound was locked and the mosquitos were trying to 
> carry me away, so I sat in the car and wondered why I was sitting in a dusty 
> car park in the early morning on my holidays.  Just as I had given up hope, a 
> male Mangrove Golden Whistler in hot pursuit of another male flashed across 
> my face.
> 13/9/07 Howard Springs and Darwin Botanical Gardens
> Stopped at Howard Springs for a possible swim and a last chance for pitta.  
> Swimming wasn't permitted due to the chance of ear infection and 
> gastroenteritis.  It didn't worry the fish though, including the massive 
> barramundi in the main pool who were happy to take handouts from the gathered 
> tourists.  Just as the top end bird bible said Rainbow Pitta were seen at the 
> second wooden bridge and even stopped close by for a photo. Met a bird 
> watcher here that said they had seen Rufous Owl the previous day at the 
> Botanical Gardens.
> After spending several hours in the Botanical Gardens straining my neck, 
> searching every suitable limb for the Rufous Owls I gave up and joined Jill 
> for a rest under a tree.  One last look before we left and I located a 
> handsome pair of Barking Owls roosting near the Orchid house.  Not Rufous, 
> but still the first time I had come into close contact with these beautiful 
> birds.
> cheers
> mike
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