Friday, August 30, 2013

Darwin - Day Eight - Heading Home

For the final full day, I started at East Point, this time at the wader (shorebird) roost.  The tide was very high, so the waders flew before they got really close.  I did manage a few shots though.  There were Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers, Grey-tailed Tattlers, Turnstones, Red-necked Stints, Terek and Common Sandpipers, Whimbrel, Great Knot and Pacific Golden Plovers.

At Lee Point, I saw Northern Fantail again and finally caught up with Arafura Fantail.

Later in the day I re-visited Howard Springs in the hope of seeing Rufous Owl.   In the end, despite a long search and wait, it was only heard.  I did get some half decent shots of Rainbow Pitta though, and had a Brahminy Kite perch nicely for a few minutes.

With only a  couple of hours before I had to return the hire car, a quick visit to East point again didn't show any new waders, but I did improve photos of White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Eastern Reef Egret, Rainbow Bee-eater and White-breasted Woodswallow.

I had a great week birding in the Top End, and in all I saw 136 species of which 24 were "lifers".

Darwin - Day Seven - Litchfield and back to Darwin

I headed up to Litchfield National Park on the way back to Darwin.  First stop was to look at the Magnetic Termite Mounds.  These mounds are very thin and all oriented towards the midday sun so they present the thin edge in the heat of the day. In the car park were lots of noisy Blue-faced Honeyeaters.

Litchfield is famous for its waterfalls, and they are very picturesque (even more so early in the morning before the hordes of tourists get there!!)

Back towards Darwin I stopped far a field of cows with Cattle Egrets. Whilst watching them I noticed a Rainbow Bee-eater using a nearby branch as a perch, only to be chased off by a White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike

After checking back into the hotel, I took a short walk in the park opposite and was rewarded with great shots of Rufous-banded Honeyeater and Double-barred Finch. Later I also found another Cuckoo-shrike, but this time it was a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Darwin - Day Six - Katherine to Adelaide River

Another Early start.  This time to get to a small creek 40kms (25 Miles) away before the sun rises.   It was worth it!! When I got out of the car the birdsong was amazing.......almost as good as a dawn chorus in the UK!      Directions were good, and I was soon settled under an overhanging branch on the edge of a dried creek looking at a ridiculously small puddle of water.     Almost immediately a White-winged Triller  came down to drink.

Then, a minute later, there THEY were...........surely one of the most enigmatic birds in Australia.  Gouldian Finch.   I don't think I took a breath for the whole five minutes they were there.  Then they were gone just as quickly, never to be seen again......

They were soon followed by a Little Friarbird, and though Northern Rosellas looked interested they never came down to the small pool.

It was soon time to leave and head back towards Darwin.  En-route I stopped at Ferguson River to search for Hooded Parrots.  I saw two flocks, but only in flight so no pics I'm afraid. On the way into Adelaide River I stopped at a small park and saw Leaden Flycatcher and Silver-crowned Friarbird.

After checking in to my motel, I took a quick tour around the town, and found the local lawnmowers at work on the sports oval!! In a flowering Gum Tree were Rufous-throated and Dusky Honeyeaters and Rainbow Lorikeets.

Darwin - Day Five - Kakadu NP and Katherine Gorge

This was the halfway point of my holiday, and (as usual) I was up with the lark (actually no larks, just kites and butcherbirds).   I went to Yellow Water Billabong. The dawn was so calm, with mist gently sitting on the water, but with sky lightening above and the moon clearly visible.

After soaking up the atmosphere for what seemed like hours, I roused my self for some birding.   Just along the road I noticed a movement and there were my first Long-tailed Finches - what a delightful little bird!

Nearby was this Black Kite, taking a rest from soaring, and a tree full of Flying Foxes (Fruit Bats) taking a rest from flying I suppose!)

I had a long drive ahead, so I headed south towards Katherine.  A few stops en-route didn't yield many photos, except this Blue-winged Kookaburra, who was happy to stay put on his wire.

Katherine Gorge National Park consists of a series of gorges cut into sandstone and limestone by the Katherine River.  There are 13 gorges in all and I took a boat trip to see the first two.  They are separated by rocks and rapids, but in the wet season the water is high enough to take a boat over them.  After the wet season they put crocodile traps out to catch any Estuarine (Saltwater) Crocs that may have come down the river.   Last pic shows a Great-billed Heron - not a great shot as I had the wrong lens on the camera!

Skywatch Friday - Kakadu NP

Whistling Kite at dawn, Yellow Water Billabong, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Darwin - Day Four - Kakadu National Park

I started the day before dawn, at a small pond frequented by finches drinking early in the morning.  I didn't see any, but it is always nice to be out when the sun rises!

This morning I was booked onto a boat trip on Corroborree Billabong. It was a great experience and we saw many birds and a few crocodiles as well. I had a few minutes to wander around before we boarded, and saw Agile Wallaby and also a Whistling Kite perched on a water tank.

On the cruise we saw Intermediate Egret, Darter and White-bellied Sea Eagle before we saw our first croc, a small Freshwater Crocodile.

Then more Pied Herons and Black-necked Storks before our first Estuarine or Saltwater Crocodile. On the way back we got close to a Radjah Shelduck.

Final spot for the day was Nourlangie Rock, a wonderful site with many aboriginal rock paintings.  In the car park was a very vocal Helmeted Friarbird.