Australia Birding Tours
The Commonwealth of Australia (“Australia” hereafter) is a country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous other smaller islands. Australia is the largest country in Oceania and the sixth-largest country by total area. It has a population of 26 million people found in the major cities, primarily along the east coast, these including Canberra (the capital), Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, with Perth being the largest city in the southwest.
Australia has six states – New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia, and two mainland territories – the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. Several external territories are also administered by the commonwealth – these include Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and the MacDonald Islands, and Norfolk Island. Two other islands are part of mainland states, Macquarie Island (part of Tasmania) and Lord Howe Island (part of New South Wales). Australia is surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans but nearby countries include New Zealand, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.
Australia is the oldest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soil and is made up of a variety of landscapes ranging from deserts (“The Outback” and Uluru/Ayers Rock) to tropical and temperate rainforests. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s longest coral reef and is located just off the northeast coast. The Great Dividing Range runs down the east of the country, the fertile Atherton Tablelands providing some great birding.
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Humans have inhabited Australia for at least 65,000 years with people migrating across land bridges and short sea-crossings from what is now Southeast Asia. Europeans arrived in the 17th century and this led to a period of colonization. The Dutch were the first to map the west and north, naming the landmass New Holland and Captain James Cook was the first European to map the eastern coastline and he named it New South Wales and claimed it for Great Britain. The expansion of British control began in the early 19th century, but the incredibly hostile environment made it slow going.
Following International Ornithological Congress (IOC) taxonomy, v10.2 (November 2020), the Australia bird list is considered to stand at 977 species, with an impressive 361 of these Australian birds being endemics. Some of these endemic birds include: Superb Lyrebird, Plains-wanderer, Orange-bellied Parrot, Southern Emu-wren, Purple-crowned Fairywren, Powerful Owl, Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, White-browed Treecreeper, and Gouldian Finch. There are many other highly sought-after species including Southern Cassowary, Black-necked Stork, albatrosses, penguins, parrots (including gorgeous Red-winged Parrot), fruit doves, Blue-faced Parrotfinch, grasswrens, and fairy wrens.
We currently have five fascinating small-group tours for those people interested in going birding in Australia, these tours have all been designed based on years of exploring the different regions and varied habitats of the country, in order to give you the best possible (and ordered approach) to birding here. Each tour is briefly outlined below and these tours can be combined to increase your bang-for-buck (follow the links for itineraries, photo galleries, and past trip reports):
This tour takes in Victoria, southern New South Wales, and southern and northern Queensland and connects with a huge number of exciting endemic species in a wide range of habitats. Some of the highlights on this tour include Southern Cassowary, Plains-wanderer, Shy Albatross, Malleefowl, Mallee Emu-wren, Striated Grasswren, Great-billed Heron, Golden Bowerbird, Regent Bowerbird, Splendid Fairywren, Superb Lyrebird, Albert’s Lyrebird, Pilotbird, Noisy Pitta, and Paradise Riflebird, to name a few. We take boat trips (which include snorkeling) to the Great Barrier Reef as well as along the Daintree River. Lots of exciting mammals (and reptiles) can be seen on this tour too such as Red Kangaroo, Koala, Platypus, Short-beaked Echidna, and Green Turtle.
An incredible opportunity to look for one of Australia’s rarest birds – Orange-bellied Parrot, along with many other specials of the island such as Swift Parrot, Forty-spotted Pardalote, Yellow Wattlebird, Little Penguin, Hooded Dotterel, Tasmanian Nativehen, Scrubtit, Black Currawong, Strong-billed Honeyeater, Morepork, Pink Robin, and Olive Whistler. Tasmania is very different to the rest of Australia, often lush green with some spectacular snow-capped mountains. We visit the delightful Bruny Island, home to all of Tasmania’s bird endemics. As a bonus the food in Tasmania is some of the best in Australia.
This tour provides an excellent chance to see many of the Top End specials, including Gouldian Finch, Hooded Parrot, Rainbow Pitta, Beach Stone-curlew, Chestnut Rail, White-breasted Whistler, Sandstone Shrikethrush, Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon, Masked Finch, Long-tailed Finch, and so many more. We also get a good dose of ancient civilization culture here as we visit several rock art sites in Kakadu National Park, located bang in the middle of some excellent birding locations. Stepping back into this world, in this gorgeous landscape is highly memorable!
Exploring the ‘Red Center’ is always fascinating with conditions often differing dramatically year-on-year here. While some birds are nomadic, following the water, others are more sedentary and we are sure to find some pretty special birds. Some of the highlights on this tour are likely to include Spinifex Pigeon, Dusky Grasswren, Gibberbird, Australian Pratincole, Inland Dotterel, Black-breasted Buzzard, Bourke’s Parrot, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Spinifexbird, Red-browed Pardalote, Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, Western Bowerbird, and Budgerigar. A visit to Uluru will be a non-birding highlight too.
A really exciting tour that goes for the regional endemics found in the southwest of Western Australia. Delights such as Red-eared Firetail, White-breasted Robin, (Western) Crested Shriketit, Western Spinebill, Western Wattlebird, Red-winged Fairywren, Blue-breasted Fairywren, Baudin’s Black Cockatoo, Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo, (Muir’s) Western Corella, Rock Parrot, and others will be targeted, along with the tough trio of Noisy Scrubbird, Western Bristlebird, and Black-throated Whipbird (formerly Western Whipbird) of which we have had great success – see the tour gallery for photos of these species taken on our tours. We visit the incredible Dryandra Woodland (with a good chance of the rare Numbat) and the simply stunning Cheynes Beach.
We are also able to easily offer custom tours to Australia and have a great history of finding the tougher birds not always likely on a set departure tour. Please email us to discuss this option, let us know your target species and we can design an itinerary to see your target birds – please also feel free to ask us for trip reports showcasing our successful custom tours.
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Testimonials from our Australia birding tours
Andy is a superb guide with a wonderful knowledge of birds and where to find them. He is enthusiastic and keen, great company and a real pleasure to bird with. Our Australian trip was very successful in terms of sightings and also really enjoyable. Andy played a big part in that with his superb organisation, excellent birding skills, easy-going nature and positive attitude. I would happily join Andy on a birding trip again and hope to be able to do so later this year!Not sure how you would pick a favourite place from that. Each region is different and of course getting to see different parts of the country is something that I would have thought one would want to do if doing OZ. I would have loved to have seen more butterflies, mammals and reptiles than we did, but maybe that requires different locations and more time in the field. We did however get Platypus and Echidna. Butterflies are pretty much restricted to the north east. Timing for birds is tough as there is so much movement amongst them depending upon food sources, but I would have said we did pretty well. While obviously we wanted to see all we could, it was not the end of the world if we missed anything, and a huge list was not our goal. We were there in the dry season, I would hate to think what it would be like in the wet season, as a number of places/routes would have been under water, especially in the Darwin region. Accommodations on the whole were very good – I loved the different lodgings, many of which we had to do our own breakfast, with kitchen facilities in the cabins. The country is huge, and with very few people, less than SA!, so some of the locations there was little choices, especially for a large group, but Barry did great in getting what he did. At each region we had to get a bus, there were 14 of us – these varied between great to OK, as the on the extension we had to have one with a trailer.Janice - On Andy and Australia
Andy Walker is one of the truly exceptional guides in the world of birding. His skill at hearing and then finding birds is amazing. Couple this with an innate sense of getting his clients into the best possible position to both see and photo the given bird elevates him from "competent" to "top notch." I have been with Andy twice and intend to search him out again.Jay - On Andy and Australia
Took the "Eastern Australia: from the Outback to the Wet Tropics" tour, my first with Birding Ecotours. Itinerary fit my needs to a "T". Birds were spectacular and guides made a special effort at each stop to find the unique birds. Also bagged some fascinating fauna including tree kangaroo, platypus, koala, and echinda. Andy Walker was an excellent guide. He is personable with a great sense of humour. His ability to adapt to changing circumstances was excellent. He and his local guide knew the birds and terrain very well, optimized our birding time at each locale by knowing what key species occurred at each, and took pains to be sure everyone got on each bird.Mike - On Andy and Australia
We loved traveling with Andy. Thanks to Andy’s birding and organization skills, this trip exceeded our expectations. Andy is an excellent bird guide and tour leader! His knowledge of the birds, their songs, habitats, and ability to locate birds was amazing. We all appreciated his ability to make sure that we all saw good views of the birds.Donna and Allen - On Andy and Australia