Some noteworthy Top End birding tour records from our tour
23 June to 6 July 2010

Most of the Top End seems to have had a good, albeit late, wet season. The Darwin and Kakadu NP areas were still very moist in places with native herbs growing in areas that are normally just grass.

The paucity of some species is of concern. Is it the burning regime carried out in Kakadu  NP and in other areas that is causing problems for ground dwelling birds such as partridge pigeon and chestnut-backed button-quail? Both species are now quite scarce in the Park. Or are the seemingly aberrant weather patterns interfering with breeding? Perhaps a bit of both. It seems that white-throated grasswrens have gone from their regular haunts in the Gunlom area after the fires in recent years. We had a red hot go at finding this species and failed for only the second time in about 25 year's tours to Gunlom.

See the 2010 checklist for a complete list of species seen 

Some photos from the 2010 tour

Not in any particular taxonomic order

Emu: one seen on the Central Arnhem Rd; only my second record in over 20 years of Top End tours.

Brown quail
: two coveys in the Parry’s Lagoon area.

Plumed whistling-duck
: impressive number about Parry’s Lagoon.

Radjar shelduck
: several hundred around about Parry’s Lagoon.

: included here due to its scarcity, just one bird at Parry’s Lagoon.

Great-crested grebe
: two birds at Lake Argyle.

Australasian grebe
: a group keeping a close watch on a large estuarine crocodile at Parry’s Lagoon was amusing.

Great-billed heron
: one bird seen well at Palmerston.

Little bittern: None seen or heard at Lake Kununurra where there are usually quite a few calling. Possibly gone inland following the rain.

Pacific baza
: a lovely pair hunting over the melaleucas at Cooinda catching phasmids; which, on two occasions we witnessed, were then pirated by whistling kites.

Square-tailed kite: one adult south end of Kakadu NP; one on Central Arnhem Road and one west of Katherine.

Black-breasted buzzard
: quite scarce this year – one on the Arnhem Highway, one on the Central Arnhem Road, one west of Timber Creek, one immature south of Katherine seen post tour. 

Spotted harrier
: only three birds — two on the South Alligator floodplain; one at Parry’s Lagoon.

Red goshawk: a pair copulating and nest building at Mataranka.

Brown goshawk
/collared sparrowhawk: often difficult to differentiate between these two species in the field. It would appear that the sparrowhawk was more numerous this year with ten sparrowhawks seen (mainly identified by square tail and size) and just two brown goshawks.

Wedge-tailed eagle
: thirteen birds in total, all west of Katherine. 

Little eagle
: three birds in total; two south of Katherine, one in the Timber Creek area.

Brolga: Small numbers in Kakadu NP; spectacular sighting near Parry’s Lagoon of two to three hundred birds feeding around a large ephemeral swamp.

Spotless crake: None seen or heard this year whereas last year we saw quite a few in a batch of cumbungi at Fogg Dam and we have seen a few around Lake Kununurra on this tour over the last few years. Assumedly, after the good rains in the inland, they have returned from whence they came.  

White-browed crake
: good numbers seen and heard at Fogg Dam and around Lake Kununurra.

Chestnut rail:  pair seen well at Buffalo Creek on our first attempt and another, seen by some, along Tiger Brennan Drive.

Australian bustard
: two in flight, south end of Kakadu NP; two were chased off the road near the Western Australian border; two about Lake Argyle; about six at Parry’s Lagoon floodplain.

Red-chested buttonquail
: two males calling South Alligator floodplain, one subsequently flushed; three flushed Parry’s Lagoon floodplain.

Chestnut-backed buttonquail
: five flushed west of Katherine.

Buff-banded rail
: one on island in Lake Argyle.

Beach stone-curlew
: pair in Darwin.

Australian pratincole
: small flock migrating south in Kakadu NP; good numbers about Lake Argyle and Parry’s Lagoon including many immatures.

Gull-billed tern
: good numbers feeding over dry plains at Parry’s Lagoon.

Partridge pigeon
: flock of about twenty near Jabiru and a pair near Cooinda (red-eye race); flock of about fifteen of the yellow-eyed race near Mitchell Falls campground.

White-quilled rock-pigeon
: about four by the road into Lake Argyle; pair seen while we were on the Lake Argyle cruise; and one at Mitchell Plateau.

Chestnut-quilled rock-pigeon
: about thirty in various locations near Gunlom.

Diamond dove
: seen as far north as Jabiru; many
about Victoria River and Timber Creek.

Banded fruit-dove: about ten feeding on figs on Noulangie Rock, two or three also feeding on figs on Gunlom.

Rose-crowned fruit-dove
: scarce this year, one bird seen Holmes Jungle; none heard anywhere.

Varied lorikeet
: scarce this year; very little eucalypt in flower — just a few birds about Victoria River and Timber Creek, mainly in flowering bloodwood.

Northern rosella
: scarce this year — eight birds at the top of Gunlom escarpment; about eight west of Katherine; pair near Pine Creek post tour.

Hooded parrot
: about ten adults and immatures east of Pine Creek; about forty adults and immatures in Pine Creek; about six south of Pine Creek; about ten south of Fergusson River post tour. 

: one small flock west of Timber Creek.

Pallid cuckoo
: about three seen or heard Central Arnhem Road; one or two calling south of Wyndham.

Horsfield bronze-cuckoo
: one south of Wyndham.

Southern boobook
: a pair seen Little Noulangie rock.

Red-backed kingfisher: scarce this year; just four birds total, one west of Katherine and three about Wyndham.

Tawny frogmouth
: one in Kununurra.

Large-tailed nightjar: one seen well in Darwin, others calling.

Variegated fairy-wren
: one male of race dulcis seen in the Gunlom area; a pair of race rogersi seen Mitchell Plateau.

Black grasswren: pair seen Mitchell Plateau.

Silver-crowned friarbird: the first birds we saw were in the Palmerston area; also seen feeding on crotalaria flowers with little friarbirds near Timber Creek. Commonly seen.

Kimberley honeyeater: about four seen Mitchell Plateau.

White-lined honeyeaters: pair at Noulangie Rock; few pairs in the Gunlom area; one bird at Gunlom feeding on figs, perhaps to take to young in nest.

Grey-fronted honeyeater
: a few seen on the Central Arnhem Road, which was my first sighting for this area; also a few in the hills about Lake Argyle.

Bar-breasted honeyeater
: very scarce this year due to no melaleucas in flower anywhere in the Top End — just a single bird seen at Mitchell Falls campground.  

Yellow chat
: about ten pairs on an island in  Lake Argyle, some feeding recently fledged young.

Red-browed pardalote
: Only three seen or heard about Timber Creek this year. 

Hooded robin
: two birds south of Timber Creek.

Varied sittella
: many sightings about Katherine and Victoria River; exceptional numbers south of Timber Creek.

Mangrove golden whistler
: adults and immatures at Adelaide River; several pairs in the mangroves at Wyndham.

White-breasted whistler
: one adult male in the mangroves at Wyndham.

Sandstone shrike-thrush: seen at several locations — Gunlom, Lake Argyle, Mitchell Plateau.

White-winged triller
: big numbers from the Katherine area through to Wyndham.

Arafura fantail
: Quite a few pairs in the monsoon rainforest at South Alligator River; one in the mangroves at Wyndham; none seen about Darwin this year.

Mangrove grey fantail
: a few pairs in the mangroves at Wyndham; none about Darwin.

Willie wagtail
: a surprise bird in the mangroves at Palmerston; commonly seen elsewhere.

Masked woodswallow
: one bird Central Arnhem Road.

Grey butcherbird
: two birds of the attractive Kimberley race, Mitchell Plateau

Australian magpie
: quite a few birds seen this year south of Katherine and around Kununurra; one south of Wyndham.

: one large group on the Central Arhhem Road, our only sighting.

Star finch
: first seen around Timber Creek; good numbers drinking at a water hole west of Timber Creek; good numbers about Kununurra and Wyndham.

Yellow-rumped mannikin
: one adult at Timber Creek; many immatures drinking with star finches west of Timber Creek.

Pictorella mannikin
: a few mainly immatures south of Timber Creek; good numbers of adults and immatures feeding and drinking north of Kununurra.

Gouldian finch
: a couple of juveniles east of Pine Creek; one adult female and two juveniles on the Central Arhhem Road; about two hundred adults and juveniles in small flocks south of Timber Creek; many red-faced males and females; one female seen with orange/rufous face and head; about fifty adults and juveniles south west of Pine Creek on our way back to Darwin post tour.

Zitting cisticola
: several birds seen on the South Alligator floodplain.


Red-tailed black cockatoo                                       8 July 2010