Jump to content

Kakadu, Katherine and Kununurra: parrots, pittas, pigeons and a frenzy of finches


Treepol

Recommended Posts

Thanks for this great report @@Treepol - so many beautiful photos. Hearty congratulations on that mistletoe bird photo - so difficult to see them - I still remember my delight at seeing one and it was actually in the garden of all places high up in a silver birch.

 

Have also been enjoying returning to places like Nourlangie Rock and seeing them through your eyes.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Treepol

Day 11

 

I had a day off between trips (well, actually Mike had a day off to regroup and provision for the next 4 days) so I had an easy time and spent 3 hours at the Casuarina Shopping Centre where everything was the same as at home - Subway, Katies, Suzanne Grae and House. I was really pleased to be leaving the city and heading out into the bush early the next day.

 

Mike and Jenny called for me at 6 am this morning after which we drove south to have breakfast at the Ferguson River, where we had stopped the previous week. Northern Rosellas flew into a nearby tree and Peaceful and Bar-shouldered doves and a Rufous Whistler fluttered in the trees on the far bank. The muted, almost pastel colours of the Northern Rosella are so unusual in this family of usually polychromatic birds.

 

AO4pLdOdgd9FefrmWDCGAysJ3GnHl7SDk3WqYX-1

 

TAWN7aHQ947LphCDLT9q5dSokM_gh3IVFo8azZS4

 

After breakfast we drove into Katherine for fuel and some last minute groceries. A large flock of straw-necked ibis circled overhead. We then turned west along the Victoria Highway to the Buntine Highway turn-off at Buntine Memorial which honours Noel Buntine's contribution to early road construction in the Northern Territory and the development of road trains as a viable means of road transport across the vast distances in the Top End.

 

The lunch stop was at a small waterhole where curious cattle eyed us suspiciously. A Red-tailed black cockatoo showed a keen interest in us from a treetop.

 

tIYcvXTUjiqgAWN2ChKqABXaPUP92DgCMokm6wPR

 

The road was unusually busy with police, 2 mounted police units, construction vehicles and an ABC News vehicle, and we wondered what was going on further along the road. We continued on to the Top Springs Hotel at 4 pm. Mike and I went for a drive down the Binns Track which is an unsealed section of the Buchanan Highway. Zebra finches, Gray-crowned babblers, Red-backed Fairy Wrens and Budgerigars were all out in the last of the afternoon sun. There were about 300 budgerigars in the synchronised squadron that wheeled, turned and flashed emerald green above us.

 

Zebra Finches

XM0_bKurCFX7xSKXTe_OOrUqUI3-GhbR8ehxQR5C

 

Illawarra Creek was the last stop of the day where Fairy Martins, Crimson finches, Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters and a Willie wagtail all gathered at the water source.

Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

Treepol, I´m departing on Nov 16th (Rwanda first). Yes, Petra´s guide and vehicle for all of Kenya.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Treepol

Day 12

 

After a good sleep we left Top Springs and soon found our breakfast stop at the Armstrong River. The rising sun turned the river into a sheet of yellow glass where these cattle crossed, meanwhile the road goes on and on..

 

Zezf1_9CTKTqOxJhov4LJddMd_Iz11eG78bas1kF

 

dE6NKujKQ3Tmv-CfnEWl3IHrS-B6I81KWKr6rAR6

 

wKPPqoLiGuQqFgxzqjg0yGK0BSog0nAjhygMer1A

 

Many birds came to the river early, including Crimson finches, Peaceful Doves, Black fronted Dotterel and Banded Honeyeaters.

 

xnR6adjPVG-eOMh37d_UDw45Adkk5Z01mXqYVdmG

 

7rUCL7bV4pb2hXZ3hWIgHbtqAhAvafjiHKE9g1Z5

 

Zi-qLBw-SXFeTE95SuMj2dgMts9k31k9m1YYd1pG

 

We are now travelling in cattle country and road trains (and flies!) are an increasingly common sight.

 

QpVN2XlmuPECMya3G742IG_oFcSQBN9XD0T-ekL-

 

Pushing on, we are headed 170 kms to Kalkarinji which will be the fuel and lunch stop before we tackle Gregory NP. Overhead a Wedge-tailed Eagle glides effortlessly and before too long we reach the next river and begin a fruitless search for Purple Crowned Fairy Wrens. A pair of Black-fronted Dotterels and a flock of Crimson Finches live around the bridge.

 

Zi-qLBw-SXFeTE95SuMj2dgMts9k31k9m1YYd1pG

 

KrTx4o5FYG0Hokat8punNdfiVAFaMGsCjGAUJSu3

 

Kalkarinji is an isolated settlement that was the location for the 50th anniversary of the Wave Hill walk-off the previous weekend – now we knew where all the traffic from yesterday originated. A celebration marking this historic occasion was attended by representatives of the Mabo and Linjiani clans to honour their contributions to Indigenous Land Rights in Australia. The anniversary of the walk-off is marked by a new interpretative display.

 

z5R-qG3PaJXuUa-ShuUmU9nOdHz342ilDu0jYMvt

 

The Kalkarinji Art Centre is a hub for local artisans - the dot painting is called Wild Tomato Dreaming and the other canvas depicts events around the walk-off.

 

pI4gh61bqgbh3l1sUyqr6cNdmgufWkfZfR_jxJ7L

 

After lunch we started up the Wave Hill Station stock route, crossing Mt Sanford station before entering Gregory NP.

 

EBu0SXBoh1uLGKep1oxzF7r7fMmnd63JPFjK9C_I

 

The first Diamond Doves if the trip are seen on this road followed by Cockatiels and Black-faced wood swallows.

 

MCVXIt8ArGciHVCcCcZq8MW7nvEKKalOqhb4XD_8

 

We are fortunate to see a barely airborne Australian Bustard, which is similar in size to a Kori having fewer markings. Wild donkeys and a few wild cattle are startled by the vehicle as we pass by. The 4WD track through the path presents some driving challenges with many steep-sided dry river and creek bed crossings, wash-outs, a jump-up and many continuous badly pot-holed sections. There were a couple of water crossings such as this one at Fish Hole Yard, where Jenny was checking the depth of the water and barely discernible track.

 

IQwmknzgCNPetCyhDUMvJ0mhn-MFnghczerI4XSv

 

A second Bustard is rudely awakened and flaps in an effort to get airborne. Other nocturnal species seen were Spotted Nightjar and a Tawny Frogmouth. The drive was very interesting and we kept stopping for birds and some of the larger and more interesting boab trees which delayed arrival at Timber Creek until after dark.

Edited by Treepol
Link to post
Share on other sites
Treepol

Day 13

 

I had hoped to get a photo of the road trains that were parked outside the Timber Creek Hotel when we arrived last night. Although there were only 4 rigs they seemed to stretch for the best part of a kilometre, however, I was too late because the roadside park was empty at 7 am.

 

We had a short walk around the camp-ground where a friendly Buff-sided robin posed for pictures, but the freshwater Johnson's Crocodile that lives in the pool behind the hotel was a no-show.

 

mm1Oxs4AVSrGwNhgZVS6z9CX0ItOrrGQAAnq53l6

 

Policeman's Point on the Victoria River was our bush breakfast spot this morning.

 

9mz5C4N76BDL1p-NHIbJdlWF1VI9o3yuWZaSKoel

 

A darter preened mid-stream on a dead branch, Rufous Whistlers hopped in the trees and a flock of noisy Red-winged Parakeets fed in riverside trees.

 

x4Sby-vqH-HlBVrVDeM8daTlezuT_TgnGm7eIcOG

 

Silver-crowned friar birds were calling from a jiggle jiggle tree where they fed on the pods and fruit. Mike and I unsuccessfully searched the riverside cane grass for Purple-crowned Fairy Wrens, however we did see a Common Sandpiper recently arrived from Siberia. A drive up onto the escarpment in search of Gouldian Finches bought us to the monument to the Nackeroos, men from the North Australia Observer Unit who performed coastguard duties between 1942-1944 in the Timber Creek area.

 

UYDNRBqxS_ZMeSgQuoWY_Nc0R-95xG_K8rSgza9k

 

P_mZW_UH0rr6bEgM7ThnBdIHESSKhinV1Dmwn06U

 

Turning towards the lookout, we were astonished to see 3 Brown Quail doing a type of moonwalk dance before scuttling into the tall grass. The escarpment is home to 2 interesting trees, the Scarlet Gum and the Nutwood tree. The Scarlet gum has a yellow textured bark, while the Nutwood has a tessellated bark.

 

FM20YdggaxFP7hB_XeWtio0hegEY5DL_Jn2trYqB

 

4ktdRw1VpX4_Rvg_D8iY5nrL86J78RxbsQs8Z91k

 

PcQQQ2Tq9E6M2uwoHkktncwBzGulEaRFJFYQwG9x

 

This morning we planned to spend some time in Keep NP which borders Western Australia. Cockatoo Lagoon was our lunch stop after which we walked down to the lagoon to see Little Black Cormorant, Brolgas, Plumed whistling ducks, Magpie Geese and Spoonbills.

 

ruHxL8bT5ppSnOIHhMGMy8aKVgzfp07OZGVDq0b7

 

vSa4o91HzhSAQAX5vziImbGOqU2EushdX12YfapA

 

I was surprised to see this windmill at Cockatoo Lagoon as these iconic symbols of rural Australia are falling into disuse, disrepair and are fast disappearing from the rural landscape.

 

GS0AvDrv0Ubpv1AxWTtVAjH3oYKU3w780sxESjQW

 

The Lagoon supports a number of Kapok bushes around the high waterline that are distinguished by a bright yellow flower and cotton wool seed pods.

 

Mi-XWQf-cg0f3YNEETmu_-XOjyyvgui_n5PGzDSf

 

Mike and I did a walk from the campground in search of Spinifex Pigeon, however we weren't lucky. We saw this St Andrews Cross spider, Diamond Doves, Striated Pardalote, a grasshopper and some amazing scenery.

 

WaTNHmMnDZFiVem1HV0PDxmpH7VKpHWzMe2397_8

 

WmmDFgMjYsQis0C6hwAxVqmxuiWrMROmxOwAefLu

 

H0uhXPgrIyafn8MQJyfAHOwHEXimAzOyRAw9Vr03

 

 

There is a Quarantine checkpoint at the border of the Northern Territory and Western Australia where roadtrains quickly fill up the drive-way and Great Bowerbirds, Galahs and Whistling Kites frequent the garden.

 

kNOdFvFV_LG74G9XPyWvoWWtrxDtw_UN7kMORwwk

 

We arrived at Kununurra mid-afternoon and immediately set out in search of Star Finches around the irrigation canals. Rainbow bee-eaters perched on power lines and hunted along the canals.

 

UWF2UzBUEGiTfwySpccQ3eszzZapJiKmdO9OmmLq

 

We ate dinner at the local Asian restaurant and then retired early night ready for a 4 am start.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Treepol

Day 14

 

Today began at 4am so that we could leave Kununurra early to drive 70 kms to Lake Argyle for a 5 hour birdwatching cruise. Along the way a couple of Agile wallabies hopped along the roadside but other than this the drive was unremarkable.

 

Greg was the skipper/guide for the morning, and he immediately began showing us birds as soon as we left the dock. The Kimberley scenery is outstanding in the early dawn as a huddle of purple hills appears further down the lake and the vivid colours emerge as the sun climbs higher.

 

jBJFDo7vTapLmqFAv15Yd-wrPa6v0RYWZpjMzGCc

 

f7xYe5cp7nIaPTeK8egaf58MrVSn-ZcKbqxZtvZt

 

There were many Darters this morning, I would think that we saw 100 plus, preening, diving, swimming and drying.

 

8PlaQKiT1ciBPf3Yue3ZBX_9JjtOuBIL49pRKoQU

 

Black-faced Wood Swallows huddled together in the early morning sun, although this one was busy parenting.

 

vsJus4S4U4j7CunWOvsG2PABtOJjIc0Rpxscx3uT

 

KNmVUf2Xv3utOXpBoS6vy2ws1d8klywh7F3sBxPi

 

A Glossy Ibis fossicked on the shore in the company of Magpie Geese and a pair of Radjah Shellducks. A family of Wandering Whistling ducks paddled in the shallows while others gave the boat a wide berth.

 

ETY6BZNyHnhvHDr89lFNshxqJF2coMpsC5R4vay0

 

WswblbRS73n23z0LULy1n7ZK7W6j7Bo2jci79rgT

 

This Short-eared Rock Wallaby and joey sheltered amongst rocky ledges along the shoreline.

 

2nPwi0iu43JoLxswTbKp234HnQCMu2YTdn9sqZCY

 

Greg looked hard for a Sandstone Shrike-thrush because most were sheltering from a Whistling Kite that floated overhead, all except this brave individual.

 

BYcCRTM6Fk2gFxV-oGgRiv7uwOEFJtdzMwes-j5l

 

Australian Pelicans were present in great numbers, either resting at the water’s edge or paddling alone around the lake.

 

_71Uzb00FJxP0ZHd-kowdF6nYgxqQyAx4atsFuBL

 

BNGylPXD6txDdqXna2eLHde2HlJkR3UyVxvn5zxu

 

One of the highlights of the cruise was a sighting of Yellow Chat. These canary yellow birds live on a smalI Island where they perch on stems of grass and low shrubs - this female is very pale and dowdy compared to the male.

 

daSO-N_RznUKYkYAn6BvFl8CGbyRr6Bl2FulZfY8

 

We had to wade through knee-high weed to reach the shore here, and I was alarmed to hear that there was a risk of picking up duck lice in the water that contained floating duck poo. Hopefully, the liberal spray of Aerogard and Bushman that I applied will keep me safe. Returning to the boat we had to be careful not to step on the eggs of Masked Lapwings which were laid in a scape above high water mark and are well camouflaged.

 

Ow8MV7T7hNJeikhLaWFMApeQ4jO8mz8WM8aJtRNR

 

After climbing back aboard and risking duck lice for a second time, we set out for Revolver Creek which is the home of some large Freshwater Crocodiles and wading birds. This pair of Brolgas was a pleasant surprise.

 

H8Ph1EuNC32Hza5upzM5HtYo6rMYfkZ-9ZKLc4VX

 

I was looking for a Australian Black-necked Storks and was delighted to find this bird in the shallows while a Freshwater Crocodile laid motionless in the mud.

 

Ugl2wSzwcMy8lqZY5kpqM9gxo_ej2BKul_1tiZ4J

 

qzK6BJDuOiPpK1Tkn27kQvp_nLkM1dD_vt0ojvnt

 

r3LK4_GubFjzfdK9ieDDghOh3S8HJXhnwNU9X3tT

 

The White-quilled Rock Pigeons were sheltering in rocky overhangs from the midday heat which made photos too hard. All too soon, the cruise was over and we were having lunch before heading back into Kununurra for some final birding. Mike and I glimpsed an Australian Reed Warbler before it disappeared into the heart of the reeds and found a young Gilberts Dragon soaking up the sun.

 

QOl04A6vK5gwaUIdU9DucQYomFBMMFIUAOi9jL38

 

This stand of boabs in Centennial Park board provided an unusual backdrop to a flock of Australasian Swamphens.

 

-oKCty_jufjNOSZkO0RH241X-gHW3Y9vI-n1FpsC

 

The final bird of the trip was a Comb-crested Jacana that picked its way over the floating hearts.

 

HLwvcN9OLLhAs5feX78wA73fGs4X7YiNca-K_b05

 

Mike and Jenny took me to the Kununurra Airport for my late afternoon flight back to Darwin where I arrived at 6 pm for a final 2 nights at the Palms Tropical Resort.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Treepol

Day 15

 

I wanted to spend my last day in the Top End completing as many sightings of birds and other animals as possible so Laurie Ross of Birding Tracks drove me to Knuckeys Lagoon and then to the Territory Wildlife Park for a four hour visit.

 

Knuckeys Lagoon was brimming with Magpie Geese, Royal Spoonbills and Pied Heron.

 

F6ldFxv4EVZAErDVmgkG-ChExFXrmUmCNlFm1eNT

 

5dN5dVTDRyf5_MIEe7rQPE_bEw_5CRe66XIQE_xZ

 

KAmfbLh3U1PX2cfzNrkl6U2H9E2crJBgdFO6Cl8n

 

mRsyQpPeD0RYSnFaG6JsuBKn6StaR2v4YHIvDs-q

 

I had heard many good reports of the Territory Wildlife Park from people interested in animals and birds and others that don’t usually bother with wild critters so I was curious to see what the park offered. The park covers a large area (I heard 400 hectares) where transport is by a free shuttle 'train' that travels continuously around a 4 km loop. Wetlands exhibits include an aquarium, Goose Lagoon, a billabong and the Oolloo Sandbar. The Monsoon Forest contains a large walk through aviary and the Woodland area has a nocturnal house and the Flight Deck. Mike recommended the Flight Deck display of mostly predators, so we made it there in time for 11 am.

 

The best thing about the park was that it attracted many wild birds and there was so much space that water and tree monitors live around the lagoon and wallabies hopped through the undergrowth.

 

Here are the photos of the wild bird visitors that frequented the park.

 

Black Butcherbird

1NI4LbaksAGHIxelCfOuMyBylxPam2mCynfZ0L2T

 

Northern Fantail

Lyw9Fx2MzJEVbhLCqh_S9-oV-NUrBriYwmHfDWps

 

Red-headed Honeyeater

jqzyN6C26daX-sGncTo2TeKB8icdryzLtxpBLluk

 

Brown-capped Emerald Dove

BTxIvoqQb1YgQiDgnPbYfAZYRtcqP2phthN2Bh7r

 

Spangled Drongo

drN25ODRHWM5bprEyGf3RXy0pl4d6L00wq5Hl8yt

 

Green Oriole

kGiPsO2t5bwRUtbqoLBMhDEzCal4hKCEMUGpEW6b

 

Arafura Fantail

Hwsm5CJQcIXbBU0kbbY5FDPbNAMtk_B_nYHeBKmG

 

Pacific Black Ducks

rttE8oZZzncIi3HeEQ4WlxVZreH8qavpDW4oOi3o

 

Leaden Flycatcher

7CUI67JNy0jxOSEpOhzGbqvoJuydEC9ngdjHz5d1

 

Brown Honeyeater

iuTRVzo70TRlJlVG6xiQV2Chhm7lNzo73ucExlP0

 

These photos are of the less fortunate birds who live in the walk through aviaries.

 

Green Pygmy Goose

fYx2TqwAU90P7xJsDS_KGjCGYrJmUtHKSQ502tlV

 

Gouldian Finches

6iQsDuCYBQCu0TSZjsgmaXrVDtJ0MCseWUSqUQB-

 

crP3gaInRZUmojcPt3RUx92xfufCl7T-GmLId_o_

 

5gwWRaSL38OW0NKOLLSMfR3LTTn7XyDX_K4f0lmM

 

 

 

Channel-billed Cuckoo

9ypDR72aSTOujVdSl8FxlOsJxk4CiQAY35MaMaYj

 

Dollarbird

7t5OdkXupD8Tv6kJijmo0lg3BXjVV6C-Y_Ogu-6D

 

Pied Imperial Pigeon

Yo99-xw9rqim4hzI7OMl3O2loZLfSYvsDadabLa9

 

Varied Lorikeet

zmGMHrQAiLdXQDMRUGj1IoNpwHOgWX4QkwpuJZtU

 

Guw28H_9VmhNwvbBOrzbMQR2sp0hlvuVDV06DWd7

 

Australasian Grebe

hKNJAbnj47qGigvNo7H0W86t-3w2T_ooNQ6FnM6z

 

Forest Kingfisher

y6r1_xgOe-8_I_ET0fJez7HCcWsPRez68eCbx61o

 

Australian Fig Bird

sVLbAsd9S5ZeGJOgkBiewMPkj39cmF6DLjVVTvR3

 

Rose-crowned Fruit Dove

FHrP26CePxt7GIX109ShJIJlV2VywFX3COez7BWs

 

Emu

pKw0ezr-bMJZ-PqYROOBeBjU0WKx9RrDk0-FgM0r

 

_UaSI5fASPwHvEMEzTD7BZie9YSGt0TDai1nZqNH

 

These guys were the stars of the flight deck:

 

Black-breasted buzzard

UA5CHVcSyrcUk1nUk8uRJxaMrT3bIPRNRXr6bAT7

 

Red-collared Lorikeet

Z8py39Ny_JZEHnVb7zq7zHOBoBAVnbaG1HK_NBW1

 

Eastern Barn-owl

32SdGvhq0EeJ8QX4adAgbZcIHFxHrcA7ejR457rz

 

Bush-stone Curlew

 

pQyQDDRiLOuYC9_x1cMioeEbiQ8LS_xtspvEQtnj

 

Brahminy Kite

LjfwWrXpK2wG0C5_CenJ_97R0jzuOvwILaadrb4C

 

Osprey

mK69susb28YhMg8UspajLV3fhUtrSzpK1JRl_RLN

 

Finally, here are some of the non-feathered creatures we saw at the park:

 

Young Agile Wallaby

-51csLnvtXXSIcsdOR93U9lpCGjgAT7YOjNg8fzS

 

Northern Yellow-faced Turtles

7LnT6sBQLy6jDW_OYrQXPr3AdoewmWYHHUUBFsLG

 

Merten's Water Monitor

yEkT8JOKRWSQ9dzYOfeTibSPPxJUUdMwvUOF6lYm

 

The time passed very quickly as Laurie and I criss-crossed the park, mostly walking sometimes catching the train. All too soon it was time to return to Darwin as Laurie had a client flying in at 3.30, and I needed time to pack ready for the flight home the next day.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Treepol

Here are some final words on my wonderful fortnight in the Top End.

 

A Day out with Mike

 

Days out with Mike begin between 4.45-6.30 am before a short drive of around 40 minutes to a peaceful and secluded breakfast stop. We set up before sunrise just as the birds are appearing. Breakfast is cereal, fruit, yoghurt with real tea or freshly brewed coffee. There are usually 1 or 2 morning activities that could be a stake-out at the breakfast site, or a short bird walk. Morning tea and coffee with biscuits was always welcome after the early start.

 

Lunch is anytime between 12-2 pm - salad with tinned fish, falafels and cheese with a choice of pita or sliced bread or rolls. This is followed by fresh fruit, tea, coffee and biscuits. Afternoons were usually a walk, stake-out or travel to the next overnight stay. Dinner was usually early around 6-6.30 pm and mostly at the restaurant attached to the accommodation. The a la carte meal was included in the cost of the tour. The bird call happens at dinner each night and mostly the day finishes at 8-8.30 pm.

 

Travel on the first tour was in a comfortable Hyundai van and for the Kununurra charter in a Landrover Discovery.

 

dezveb_j-UkGHDoYFxxhIMZaYE_G6vmFTAXNGtOe

 

This trip is the closest that I have come to an African safari-style holiday in Australia. The early starts, breakfast and lunch in the bush and there was always something to look at – birds, scenery, the open road stretching away into the distance. The one thing that was missing was that coveted afternoon nap!

 

Mike is a very knowledgeable guide with keen eyes and ears to spot, locate and identify the birds, animals and reptiles of the Top End. He is also one of the hardest working guides that I know. Mike gets up early and is always on time to collect us and the luggage before heading off for another day out. He does the lion’s share of the preparation and cleaning up of breakfast and lunch. In between, he leads the walks, guides, shops for supplies along the way, does the check-ins and is always and unfailingly good-humoured.

 

EXehzEQ9wiIMA7LFmps05zgtSU_fQ2ZFGwtb5fRU

Link to post
Share on other sites
Zubbie15

Thanks for sharing @@Treepol, this brought back great memories and gives me some interesting ideas for if/when we get back to this area.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy