Am currently on my annual 2 week Top End birding trip and enjoyed visiting some excellent spots in Darwin before travelling to Katherine.
A walk along the Katherine River produced some nice birds making the most of sprinklers in the hot afternoon.
I met up with Phil and Trish who were leading a group across the Top End. They were passing through Katherine with their guests and I joined them for the last few days of their tour to Kununurra. It was much more economical to do it this way and with Phil’s knowledge of the area the chances of finding my target species greatly increased.
We enjoyed great views of Purple-crowned Fairy-wren at Victoria River feeding in the grass along with large flocks of Pictorella Mannikin.
Feral Scrub Bull
Masked, Double-barred, Crimson and Gouldian Finches were enjoyed in numerous locations and Australian Bustards were in high numbers.
Bustard flying down Victoria River at sunrise
This Bustard was busted crossing the road!
At Timber Creek we came across a large flock of Yellow-rumped Mannikin on the Victoria River feeding in the cane grass. Gouldian Finches were in good numbers and we watched them drinking from a small water hole while we ate our lunch.
Carving by Augustus Gregory 1853 - Australian Explorer
Black-chinned (golden-backed form), yellow-tinted, rufous-throated, grey-fronted and banded honeyeaters were showing well.
We journeyed across the border to Kununurra before taking a cruise on Lake Argyle where we enjoyed amazing views of Yellow Chat, White-quilled Rock-pigeon and Sandstone Shrike-thrush along with the gorgeous Short-eared rock wallaby.
Short-eared Rock Wallaby
A drive out to Wyndham and Parry's Lagoon provided great views of Red-chested Button-quail and Letter-winged Kite! A surprising find for this area! Also flushed a pair of Flock Bronzewing.
3 metre croc swam past the bird hide!
We took a flight to Mitchell Plateau followed by a short helicopter trip to the campground to commence a hike to find the Black Grasswren. This was my main target bird for this trip along with it being my most wanted Australian bird. My pre-birding anxiety was at an all time high and I hardly slept the night before. Amazingly it took less than an hour to find a group of 7 birds and they showed very well! Woo Hoo, to say I was stoked would be an understatement. I feel like I have achieved my aim in life now. They were even more incredible in real life than any picture can portray.
Me just after seeing Black Grasswren - exhausted and deliriously happy!
While watching these stunning little balls of personality a Kimberley Honeyeater flew over head and the Kimberley form of Varigated Fairy-wren came in for a look. The female looks amazing with her pink bill.
By this time the heat had taken its toll and I was feeling very unwell. While resting at the campground a family of Partridge Pigeons – Kimberley form with yellow eye wandered past feeding.
Anyone planning this trip take note – it is HOT and HUMID. Drink plenty of water!! In the 6 hrs I was there I drank just over 2 litres which was nowhere near enough. My companions drank 3-4 litres. Ensure you drink heaps! A huge thank you to my companions for taking such good care of me!
Even feeling so unwell it was definitely worth every minute to see such an amazingly beautiful bird. Nothing can top that! Thank you Phil & Trisha for a great few days!!