Birding Tour Australia: from the Outback to the Wet Tropics
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Eastern Australia: from the Outback to the Wet Tropics
Australia, the island continent, is a remote landmass that drifted away from Antarctica tens of millions of years ago. Without significant volcanic activity and other mountain-building forces it is also the flattest continent, with the world’s oldest soils. Despite its lack of topography this incredible landmass is one of extremes. The Outback, the continent’s core, is a vast and hostile desert with unpredictable weather patterns that sometimes flush the landscape green. Along the edges more regular precipitation allows ancient rainforests, heathlands, and fire-resistant sclerophyll woodlands to grow. Due to its long isolation and harsh environments Australia is now home to birds of a different feather, including eight endemic bird families and a further seven shared only with neighboring New Guinea. About 300 bird species are endemic to Australia, making it second only to Indonesia in this regard. Throughout this country’s every extreme its amazing avifauna has shown the adaptability and resiliency to survive in even the most challenging environments. In addition, this avifauna is just dripping with charismatic species, from bowerbirds to parrots to fairywrens to kookaburras to cassowaries to lyrebirds. Throughout the course of this small-group tour we sample habitats ranging from the arid plains north of Deniliquin to the wet rainforests of the Atherton Tablelands in search of as many of these wonderful birds as possible, while also appreciating the many other unique plants and animals along the way.
The incredible birds and wildlife of eastern Australia: a virtual birding tour by Andy Walker (who guides our Australian tours). This presentation was part of the highly recommended SE Arizona birding festival hosted by the Tucson Audubon Society (also see their YouTube channel here).
Our journey begins at the cosmopolitan city of Melbourne, Victoria in southeast Australia, visiting coastal heathland for several localized habitat specialists such as Gang-gang Cockatoo and Beautiful Firetail. Farther north and west towards the interior, arid mallee vegetation and saline lakes provide habitat for the mound-building Malleefowl, the impossibly blue Splendid Fairywren, and the evocatively named Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, among a host of other species. On one evening we make a special effort to observe the monotypic Plains-wanderer in the dry plains north of Deniliquin in New South Wales.
We will search for Plains-wanderer (a monotypic family) in the dry plains of New South Wales.
Following our time in New South Wales we will swing southeast through the sclerophyll forests of Chiltern and the temperate forests near Melbourne for targets such as Turquoise Parrot and Superb Lyrebird.
After an internal flight from Melbourne to Brisbane, Queensland, we drive up to the famous O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, nestled within a large tract of subtropical rainforest, for a totally new set of stunning birds such as Paradise Riflebird, Regent Bowerbird, Satin Bowerbird, Noisy Pitta, Albert’s Lyrebird, and Australian Logrunner.
On the last leg of our journey we visit the Wet Tropics of far northern Queensland to explore one of the world’s most ancient rainforests for key species such as Southern Cassowary and Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher. We also take a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef, where the colors and diversity of the fish and corals rival those of the birds, with a chance to swim with Green Turtles. Evening spotlighting sessions on many of these nights should also produce a host of endearing and unusual nocturnal birds and mammals, which may include Papuan Frogmouth and Barking Owl. Other target birds in the north include Great-billed Heron, Australian Bustard, Victoria’s Riflebird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Great Bowerbird, Golden Bowerbird, Fernwren, and Chowchilla to name a few.
The massive Southern Cassowary can be seen in northern Queensland.
During our time in Australia we will also look for some of the country’s incredible and unique animals, including Platypus, Short-beaked Echidna, Koala, Red Kangaroo, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Common Ringtail Possum, Common Brushtail Possum, Musky Rat Kangaroo, and Common Wombat. The birds in Australia are incredible, but so are the mammals, reptiles, and amphibians that we will see; they combine to result in an awesome wildlife-filled experience. This continent is a naturalist’s dream!
Sometimes we do this tour in the reverse order shown in this itinerary. Please confirm the route for your tour with us before purchasing your flight tickets.
For those wishing to continue exploring Australia (and we fully recommend it), this tour can be combined with our set of tours preceding and following this one: Australia: Tasmania – Endemics and the Orange-bellied Parrot, Australia: Northern Territory – Top End Birding, and Western Australia: Southwest Specialties. From 2022 you can also join our new Northern Territory – Alice Springs Birding tour (it will fit perfectly between our Top End and Western Australia tours). All five of our Australian birdwatching tours could be combined into one long tour, or you could just do one or two (or more!), whatever suits your time. We can also arrange further extensions (e.g., sightseeing trips to Sydney, Uluru, etc., and pelagic trips) if you wish.
Itinerary (18 days/17 nights)
Day 1. Arrival in Melbourne
Non-birding day with your arrival into Melbourne airport, the rest of the day will be at your leisure. We will meet in our hotel near the airport for an evening welcome dinner together.
Overnight: Melbourne Airport Hotel
Day 2. Melbourne to Aireys Inlet
Over the course of the day we will enjoy some of Australia’s common and widespread, yet beautiful and interesting birds, such as Magpie-lark, Rainbow Lorikeet, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Willie Wagtail, Laughing Kookaburra, and Australian Magpie.
The gaudy Rainbow Lorikeet can be seen around Melbourne.
We drive around Melbourne to the world-famous Werribee Western Treatment Plant area along the coast. Included in the Ramsar list of Wetlands of International Importance in 1983, this extremely rich, huge area contains a network of sewage treatment lagoons, unmodified saltmarsh, creeks, and lakes, which host large numbers of both sedentary and migratory waterbirds. We will navigate a series of roads around this area, where water levels permit. Among a wide assortment of other species Freckled Duck, Pink-eared Duck, and Musk Duck will be top priorities, as well as the secretive Australian Crake and the highly localized Striated Fieldwren. The area is often great for raptors, and we may find Black-shouldered Kite, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australian Hobby, and Brown Falcon.
We then continue southward along the coast to Aireys Inlet for the night. Along the way a few stops may produce Southern Emu-wren, Black-tailed Nativehen, Black-fronted Dotterel, Cape Barren Goose, and White-winged Chough. Maybe we will even spot our first Eastern Grey Kangaroo or Koala along the way!
Overnight: Aireys Inlet
Day 3. Aireys Inlet to central Victoria
Composed of dense, low shrubs and scattered, twisted trees, coastal heathland occurs on impoverished soils with poor drainage. Despite the nutrient-poor soils this habitat boasts a high diversity of plants as well as a unique community of birds that depend on them. We spend most of the morning exploring the scenic coastal heathlands of southwest Victoria, seeking out some of these species, such as Southern Emu-wren, Beautiful Firetail, and Rufous Bristlebird. Areas of taller vegetation may host the endearing Gang-gang Cockatoo, while a sea watch may yield Black-browed Albatross, Australasian Gannet, and other pelagic birds offshore.
Beautiful Firetail inhabits low shrubs in central Victoria.
As the day progresses, we drive inland into central Victoria for our first taste of box-ironbark forest, a habitat endemic to Australia. Because the component tree species in this habitat are such prolific flower and nectar producers, there is a correspondingly high diversity of nectar-feeding honeyeaters and lorikeets, including the normally scarce and local Purple-gaped Honeyeater, White-fronted Honeyeater, and Purple-crowned Lorikeet.
Day 4. Central Victoria to Ouyen
After some brief morning birding around Inglewood we continue to the Ouyen area in northwestern Victoria. Along the way we will stop at Lake Tyrrell, a salt-crusted and mostly dry lake bed surrounded by saltbush and samphire. Despite its unlikely appearance this low vegetation is home to several charismatic birds, such as Orange Chat, White-winged Fairywren, and Eastern Bluebonnet, which we will target during our time here.
Founded in 1921, Wyperfeld National Park protects a significant tract of semi-arid mallee woodland and heathland. Depending on local conditions we may visit this site as we are passing. High on our list of priorities here would be the appropriately named Malleefowl, Southern Scrub Robin, Splendid Fairywren, and Southern Whiteface, and other birds of the dry Australian interior are also possible.
A top target while in mallee habitat will be Malleefowl.
In the late afternoon we will arrive in Ouyen in the mallee habitat. Due to the number of secretive and highly sought birds here we will spend two nights and days birding the area, giving us plenty of time to try and connect with some of the arid area’s great birds like Malleefowl, notable for incubating its eggs in large nesting mounds.
Day 5. Birding Hattah-Kulkyne National Park
As one of Australia’s largest and most pristine mallee reserves, Hattah-Kulkyne National Park boasts a wide variety of bird species that are much more difficult to see elsewhere, such as Mallee Emu-wren and Striated Grasswren. We will spend the full day birding within and around the park and town. In addition to the species mentioned above we will be looking for one of the most spectacular parrots in all of Australia, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo. Hopefully the cockatoo will be accompanied by a rich and colorful supporting cast of dry-country specialties, such as Regent Parrot, Mulga Parrot, Crested Bellbird, and Emu. Possibly we will have our first look at the huge Red Kangaroo here too.
The rare Mallee Emu-wren (it is considered Endangered by BirdLife International) can be found in Hattah-Kulkyne National Park.
Day 6. Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, travel to Deniliquin, and Plains-wanderer night trip
We will have another morning birding in the wonderful Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, where we will continue to seek out the area’s specialties, maybe including White-winged Chough, Apostlebird, Chestnut Quail-thrush, and many more. As the morning progresses, we will head out of Victoria into neighboring New South Wales. We will likely stop at Lake Tutchewop along the way, which, depending on water levels, may hold the elegant Red-necked Avocet and the dapper Banded Stilt.
The fairywrens are sure to be one of the most-enjoyed birds of the trip, this is a Splendid Fairywren, one of several fairywren species likely on the tour.
We will have a long day today, because during the evening we will go out to search for the bizarre Plains-wanderer, the sole representative of an endemic Australian family, most closely related to the shorebirds (but its closest living relatives are thought to be the seedsnipes of South America!). Although this species is the star attraction of this site, we may also encounter other birds, such as Inland Dotterel, Banded Lapwing, Stubble Quail, Eastern Barn Owl, or Australian Owlet-nightjar on this nocturnal foray.
Day 7. Transfer to Chiltern via Gulpa Island
After a late night we allow ourselves to sleep in before continuing our journey to Chiltern via Gulpa Island and various other sites in the Riverina bioregion. Targets on this more laid-back day include the vivid Superb Parrot, the elusive Gilbert’s Whistler, and the striking White-backed Swallow as we aim to arrive in Chiltern in the midafternoon.
Day 8. Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park to Healesville
Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park, established in October 2002, protects what is arguably the best flora and fauna assemblage of box-ironbark forest and woodland in Australia and forms an important link between the foothills of the Australian Alps with the plains of the Murray River. The trees which define this habitat produce an abundance of nectar when flowering, attracting birds from far and wide. The sounds of birds can be almost deafening during these times! Targets attracted to these blooms include Little Lorikeet, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Painted Honeyeater, and perhaps, with considerable luck, even the Critically Endangered (BirdLife International) Regent Honeyeater (this site being one of its last strongholds, but it is still exceedingly rare here). Elsewhere in the forest we search for the rainbow-like Turquoise Parrot, the bark-peeling Crested Shriketit, the ground-dwelling Speckled Warbler, and more. We may even come across the unusual Short-beaked Echidna here.
After lunch we continue our journey southward to the town of Healesville near the city of Melbourne for the night. Here we will have a chance for some evening spotlighting for birds such as Greater Sooty Owl and mammals, possibly possums and gliders.
Parrots are sure to continually impress during this tour, this is Turquoise Parrot.
Day 9. Birding near Melbourne and conclusion of the “Outback” part of the tour
We spend most of the day at Bunyip State Park, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) east of Melbourne, birding wet sclerophyll forest and swampy heathlands. Within these mossy forests we hope to find several of Australia’s most charismatic and emblematic birds. Superb Lyrebird, an unrivalled mimic and the world’s largest songbird, will be chief among our targets. The forest and heathland communities are also home to Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Pilotbird, Olive Whistler, Eastern Whipbird, Flame Robin, Rose Robin, Pink Robin, Red-browed Treecreeper, Rufous Fantail, and more. It is sure to be a wonderful end to the birding on this part of the tour. We will continue back to Melbourne, thus completing our circuit of Victoria, where we will spend the night in an airport hotel ahead of an early flight the next day.
Day 10. Transfer from Melbourne to Brisbane and to Lamington National Park
After an early-morning flight we arrive in Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland, to continue our tour. We first stop at a few mangrove sites near the airport itself, searching for the endemic Mangrove Honeyeater and Mangrove Gerygone. Nearby wetland sites often hold the elusive Spotless Crake, and we could obtain our first sightings of Comb-crested Jacana, Red-backed Fairywren, Torresian Kingfisher, and more while we search for them.
Afterwards we drive to the world-famous O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat at Lamington National Park. A colorful and interesting suite of birds attends the lodge gardens here, including Crimson Rosella, Australian King Parrot, Regent Bowerbird, Satin Bowerbird, Australian Brushturkey, and Wonga Pigeon. These birds are unusually tame and provide excellent opportunities for photography.
Overnight: Lamington National Park
Gorgeous Regent Bowerbirds are often present around our rooms!
Day 11. Full day birding Lamington National Park
Situated in the heart of Lamington National Park, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is well-known for its rainforest location, diverse wildlife, and interesting history. Using the lodge as our base we spend the full day exploring the verdant network of subtropical rainforest trails in search of several spectacular birds unique to the area. Albert’s Lyrebird, Australian Logrunner, and Noisy Pitta inhabit the forest understory, while birds in the mid-story and canopy include Paradise Riflebird, Topknot Pigeon, Black-faced Monarch, and Green Catbird. We will make a concerted effort to see all of these species during our stay as well as leaving time to enjoy the site’s good variety of mammals, a good number of which only come out at night.
Overnight: Lamington National Park
Day 12. Transfer from Brisbane to Cairns, birding the Cairns Esplanade
We will have a pre-breakfast birding walk into the forest near our accommodation once again, where we will keep searching for new and interesting species, maybe finding a cryptically plumaged Russet-tailed Thrush or the gorgeous and rather cute Rose Robin. After another sumptuous O’Reilly’s breakfast, we drive off the mountain and head back toward the city in time to make our flight farther north on our tour of the Australian east coast.
When we arrive in Cairns, depending on the tide time, we might make the short jaunt from our hotel to the Cairns Esplanade to enjoy its variety of shorebirds, from the hulking Far Eastern Curlew to the dainty Terek Sandpiper. We may also check a short stretch of mangrove forest nearby for Mangrove Robin and Varied Honeyeater, localized habitat specialists. We are sure to see plenty of Torresian Imperial Pigeons, Australasian Figbirds, and Metallic Starlings flying around near our accommodation.
Day 13. Great Barrier Reef trip and travel to Kuranda
The Great Barrier Reef is an ecosystem of many superlatives that no words can do justice. After an early breakfast we board a boat that will take us out to experience this incredible reef system. Our first stop is Michaelmas Cay, a tiny islet that hosts an impressive number of nesting seabirds. Sooty Tern, Brown Noddy, and Greater Crested Tern dominate, but Lesser Crested Tern, Black Noddy, and Black-naped Tern are also possible. Brown Booby can be seen perched on man-made structures, while marauding Great and Lesser Frigatebirds often soar overhead. We will spend some time here enjoying the spectacle. Weather and sea conditions permitting, we should be able to land on the cay to get close-up views of these seabirds. There is also the likelihood of snorkeling here, but for this part of our reef trip the focus is really on the birds, though we will also keep our eyes peeled for dolphins and sea turtles.
The birds around Michaelmas Cay are outstanding, but the underwater life is just as mesmerizing. It’s well worth jumping in, with a great chance of finding a Green Turtle amongst a myriad of kaleidoscopic tropical fish.
After lunch the boat usually moves across to Hastings Reef, where there will be an option to snorkel, scuba dive, or take a glass bottom boat tour, all three options giving a wonderful opportunity to observe the plethora of shockingly colorful life below the surface. When we return to shore in the midafternoon we will jump into our van and head into the rainforest to the west of Cairns to the Kuranda area, where we will spend the night.
Day 14. Birding near Kuranda, transfer to Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges
Our main target bird for the morning, and if we are successful, likely to be a ‘bird of the trip’ contender, is the humongous and rare Southern Cassowary, the largest bird in Australia by weight. Cassowary House has hosted a family of these imposing birds for many years. While we venture to a nearby rainforest road in the morning for our first shot at a variety of new fruit doves, monarch flycatchers, and honeyeaters, we will remain in contact with our lodge host, should a cassowary venture into the gardens. Other visitors to the Cassowary House feeders include the normally reclusive Red-necked Crake as well as Pacific Emerald Dove and Macleay’s Honeyeater. We might also get lucky and see the local Victoria’s Riflebird (a bird-of-paradise) displaying in and around the lodge gardens.
In the late morning we continue our journey southwest to the Atherton Tablelands, but not without stopping at a couple of wetland sites for Sarus Crane and Brolga, Wandering Whistling Duck and Plumed Whistling Duck, and other open-country species. We spend the course of the next two days visiting a variety of sites on the Atherton Tablelands, a fertile plateau hosting several habitats from high altitude rainforest to drier eucalypt woodland. There will be a lot of targets to fit into the next couple of days, so expect long days as we try to connect with as many of them as possible. Although we will keep our itinerary flexible, based on our growing trip list, we will likely spend time birding the cooler wet forest of Mount Hypipamee National Park, Lake Barrine, and the Curtain Fig Tree for Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Golden Bowerbird, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Grey-headed Robin, Chowchilla, and more. We can, with some luck, also find Victoria’s Riflebird and Spotted Catbird in the gardens of our accommodation. Nocturnal activity is also wonderfully exciting here, and we will be sure to spend some time looking for a range of possums, gliders, and more, as well as for the diurnal Musky Rat Kangaroo. Here we will also have a search for the bizarre Platypus.
Overnight: Lake Eacham
Day 15. Birding Atherton Tablelands
On our second day in the area we make our way northward along the much drier eastern edge of the Atherton Tablelands, stopping at various sites, which may include Granite Gorge Nature Park, Mount Carbine, Lake Mitchell, and the Maryfarms Road. Much like on the previous day there will be no shortage of potential targets. Australian Bustard, Squatter Pigeon, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Spotted Harrier, Blue-winged Kookaburra, and Great Bowerbird are only a sample of the many wonderful birds we may encounter today. After a long day of birding we settle in at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge for the next two nights.
Present in the dry north, we will be on the lookout for Blue-winged Kookaburra.
Day 16. Birding Mount Lewis and Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge
The signature species at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge, Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, is fully migratory in this part of its range, arriving to nest in November with the onset of the rainy season. We carefully time this itinerary to coincide with the arrival of this spectacular kingfisher to the Atherton Tablelands.
A small area of rainforest in an otherwise agricultural landscape is an amazing sight, and this small block of habitat is home to some remarkable species. We will find lots of new birds here with some target birds including Papuan Frogmouth, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Graceful Honeyeater, Pied Monarch, Superb Fruit Dove, Forest Kingfisher, and Noisy Pitta. The high-altitude rainforest at Mount Lewis offers another chance at Golden Bowerbird and several very restricted-range endemics such as Fernwren, Chowchilla, Mountain Thornbill, Atherton Scrubwren, Blue-faced Parrotfinch, and more. Evening spotlighting on the lodge grounds may produce Lesser Sooty Owl or Barking Owl and the possibility of some more interesting mammals and reptiles.
Day 17. Daintree River Cruise
We will need an early start today to arrive in time for our dawn cruise along the scenic Daintree River. By scanning the sandy banks and lush riverside vegetation from the comfort of our boat we will keep a sharp eye out for the bulky Great-billed Heron, family groups of Shining Flycatcher, the cryptically camouflaged Papuan Frogmouth, and flocks of the diminutive Double-eyed Fig Parrot – maybe even the rare Little Kingfisher.
Back on dry land we will search the surrounding forest for Lovely Fairywren and the sandy beaches for Beach Stone-curlew before driving south toward Cattana Wetlands in the afternoon. Here we hope to obtain views of the vivid Crimson Finch and the retiring White-browed Crake.
Upon arrival in Cairns we pay an afternoon visit to the Cairns Botanical Gardens and Centenary Lakes. This lush park is home to a rich assortment of birds, including Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Bush Stone-curlew, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Black Butcherbird, and more. As the afternoon wears on a variety of woodland species, such as Rainbow Bee-eater, Brown-backed Honeyeater, and Yellow Honeyeater, become more active, often bathing on the edges of a freshwater lake. We will enjoy a final evening meal together with the difficult task of choosing the ‘Bird of the Trip’, never an easy thing to do in Australia.
One of the toughest kingfishers to find in Australia, we will hope to find the Little Kingfisher while on a boat trip on the Daintree River.
Day 18. Transfer to Cairns Airport, tour concludes
Non-birding day with your departure from Cairns Airport.
Overnight: Not included
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors.Download Itinerary
Eastern Australia – From the Outback to the Wet Tropics Trip Report, November 2022
3 – 20 NOVEMBER 2022
By Andy Walker
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Our evening watching four Plains-wanderers under a total lunar eclipse was rather special!
This exciting Australian birding tour covered the eastern portion of this vast continent country. The first leg of the tour started in Melbourne, Victoria on the 3rd of November 2022, and from there we commenced a circuit of central, western, and northern Victoria and across the border for a brief foray into south central New South Wales. The second leg of the tour saw us fly to Brisbane, southern Queensland for a long weekend of birding around the famous O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. The third and final leg of the trip had us commencing a circuit around Far North Queensland and the Atherton Tablelands, starting and ending in Cairns, this also included Great Barrier Reef and Daintree River boat trips. The tour ended in Cairns on the 20th of November 2022.
We recorded 379 species (seven heard only) and enjoyed a long list of endemic species and families during the tour. The list of highlights is long, and there are way too many to list here, but you can’t go too far wrong with top-quality birds like Southern Cassowary, Malleefowl, Plains-wanderer, Spotted Nightjar, Papuan Frogmouth, Great-billed Heron, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, Superb Parrot, Cockatiel, Budgerigar, Squatter Pigeon, Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Rufous Bristlebird, Superb Lyrebird, Albert’s Lyrebird, Pilotbird, Fernwren, Chowchilla, Australian Logrunner, Noisy Pitta, Paradise Riflebird, Victoria’s Riflebird, Regent Bowerbird, Great Bowerbird, Green Catbird, Spotted Catbird, Striated Grasswren, Splendid Fairywren, Mallee Emu-wren, Painted Honeyeater, and Diamond Firetail, to name just a few. As is usual for this tour, we found some remarkable endemic wildlife beyond all the birds, with major highlights including Koala (mother and joey), Red Kangaroo, Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo, Short-beaked Echidna, Platypus, and Saltwater Crocodile. We also enjoyed stunning butterflies and impressive wildflowers, particularly orchids. Trip lists follow the report.
Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo was one of 28 cockatoo/parrot species recorded during the tour.
Day 1, 3rd November 2022. Arrival in Melbourne
The group arrived in Melbourne, and we met for a welcome dinner in the evening and discussed the plans for the next few weeks of exciting birding in the east of Australia.
Day 2, 4th November 2022. Melbourne to Airey’s Inlet
We met up with Simon our local guide and commenced our journey out of Melbourne to the west of the city, ending up along the Great Ocean Road at Airey’s Inlet. We called in at multiple sites made up of various habitats during the day and as a result ended up with a large day list of over one hundred species, featuring many Australian endemic birds and families.
Most of our day was spent around the famed Werribee Western Treatment Plant and wider area. Given the record high levels of water around, the site wasn’t as productive as usual for waterbirds (we would be looking for those throughout the rest of the tour), so we actually concentrated our efforts on some woodland and lakes in the vicinity during the morning. Our first stop gave us Little Eagle, Brown Goshawk, Long-billed Corella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Galah, Crimson (Crimson) Rosella, Eastern Rosella, Red-rumped Parrot, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Shining Bronze Cuckoo, Crested Pigeon, Superb Fairywren, Striated Pardalote, Black-faced Cuckooshrike, Varied Sittella, Red-browed Finch, and Diamond Firetail. The first wetland site we visited produced Little Grassbird, Australasian Grebe (on a nest), Australasian Swamphen, Grey Teal, Chestnut Teal, Maned Duck, and Australian Shelduck.
We had some excellent views of several juvenile Australian Hobbies hunting dragonflies over wet areas. They were very successful in their pursuits, catching their prey with ease.
After lunch we found Cape Barren Goose, Black-fronted Dotterel, and Australian Pelican in a residential area. Visiting some of the nearby water treatment works areas we found Royal Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Australian Hobby, Brown Falcon, Swamp Harrier, Black Swan, Golden-headed Cisticola, Australian Reed Warbler, Striated Fieldwren, White-fronted Chat, and one of the stars of the afternoon, a family group of Brolgas.
Late in the afternoon, the coast presented us with a new set of birds too, Hooded Dotterel, Red-capped Plover, Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Tern, Silver Gull, and Kelp Gull. Peregrine Falcon, Black-shouldered Kite, and White-bellied Sea Eagle were overhead. A rather pretty pair of nesting Blue-winged Parrots proved a fitting end to a great first day birding in Australia as they were illuminated by the glorious late afternoon sunlight.
Day 3, 5th November 2022. Airey’s Inlet to central Victoria
We had another fantastic day birding in Australia as we made our way from the Great Ocean Road through to central Victoria and the town of Wedderburn. We started our birding at Airey’s Inlet where we visited a small pond and the lighthouse. Here we found our main target, Rufous Bristlebird with ease, along with other targets such as Black-faced Cormorant, Australasian Gannet, Latham’s Snipe, Singing Honeyeater, and Little Wattlebird.
Rufous Bristlebird belongs to one of several Australian-endemic families seen on the tour.
After breakfast we drove up and onto Anglesea Heath. We were greeted with near-perfect mild and windless conditions. Here we found Southern Emu-wren, Striated Fieldwren, and Chestnut-rumped Heathwren with minimal effort, and also enjoyed seeing Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, and Wedge-tailed Eagle, to name a few of the goodies.
A short drive to another spot saw us getting more top birds, and these included Brush Cuckoo, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, White-throated Treecreeper, Crested (Eastern) Shriketit, Australian Golden Whistler, Rufous Whistler, Striated Thornbill, and a host of honeyeaters, including Eastern Spinebill, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, New Holland Honeyeater, White-eared Honeyeater, and Brown-headed Honeyeater. After the success of these morning stops, which included excellent views of great birds, we decided to get the majority of our long drive north under our belts.
After lunch, our luck continued as we called into a variety of different wooded habitats. One of the big highlights of the afternoon, and the whole day, was seeing a family party of roosting Powerful Owls, they are such huge birds and very impressive to see! Our next stop was a bonanza of birds, and we found Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Fuscous Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, Olive-backed Oriole, Black-faced Cuckooshrike, Spotted Pardalote, Grey Shrikethrush, Eastern Yellow Robin, Dusky Woodswallow, Musk Lorikeet, and Common Bronzewing.
Our final stop of the day gave us even more new birds, and we really couldn’t have asked for more, with great views of Square-tailed Kite, Shy Heathwren, White-winged Chough, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, White-fronted Honeyeater, White-eared Honeyeater, and White-backed Swallow rounding off another excellent day, with over one hundred species recorded again (and no wetland birding today to inflate the list either!).
Crested Shriketit gave excellent views. This species complex is likely to be split by the IOC very soon (it has already been split by some authorities). Birds here becoming Eastern Shriketit.
Day 4, 6th November 2022. Central Victoria to the mallee at Mildura
Our first stop of the day was at Mount Korong Nature Conservation Reserve. It was a beautiful morning, and the birding was excellent. We found our main targets, displaying Painted Honeyeater and nest-building and courtship-dancing Diamond Firetails. Several other top birds seen included Painted Buttonquail, Gilbert’s Whistler, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, White-winged Chough, Mistletoebird, and Rufous Songlark (doing well in the perfect conditions).
We called in to Lake Tyrrell Wildlife Reserve for our picnic lunch and in doing so connected with Rufous Fieldwren, White-winged Fairywren, Black-faced Woodswallow, Australian Pipit, White-fronted Chat, and Brown Songlark. It was incredible seeing the lake full of water, not the usual sight here. After this brief yet productive stop, we drove across the short distance to Wyperfeld National Park.
Birding for the majority of the afternoon at Wyperfeld was great fun. We saw our first Emu of the trip, always a highly anticipated moment, and a dad with five chicks was a great start. Raptors abounded and one of the highlights was watching a dueling Spotted Harrier and Wedge-tailed Eagle at fairly close range, we also saw plenty of Nankeen Kestrels and Brown Falcons, along with Black-shouldered Kite. Parrots were frequently seen, and we got our first Cockatiel, Regent Parrot, Australian Ringneck, Eastern Bluebonnet, and Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo of the trip. Smaller birds seen included the stunning Splendid Fairywren, Yellow-throated Miner, Striped Honeyeater, Southern Whiteface, Pied Butcherbird, and Grey Butcherbird.
It had been a long afternoon in increasing temperatures, and due to the recent heavy rains and floods, increasing numbers of mosquitoes. However, the day had one final surprise for us as we commenced our drive out of the national park towards our accommodation. As we were slowly driving along a road, the much hoped for shape of a Malleefowl was observed feeding along the side of a road in the distance. We stopped to get scope views of the bird and then gradually crept forward in the vehicle, the bird remained, and everyone got good, much closer views as it continued to feed unconcerned by our presence. A big target in the bag.
A well-camouflaged Malleefowl was a fitting end to another excellent day of birding in Victoria.
Day 5, 7th November 2022. Birding Hattah-Kulkyne National Park
We enjoyed a wonderful day birding in the mallee. During the morning we connected with our three main targets, as well as many other great birds that were new for the trip. As we drove towards Hattah-Kulkyne National Park from our accommodation we saw a small flock of Cockatiel fly over the road. We stopped to see if we could find any others and to our joy found a flock of seven birds perched up in trees and feeding along a dirt track below. We also got better perched views of Eastern Bluebonnet, Sacred Kingfisher, and Black-shouldered Kite here.
Our first target in the national park gave itself up with little effort when we found a gorgeous Chestnut Quail-thrush, one of several singing birds heard during the early morning period. While here we were teased by a Mulga Parrot that flew in and landed practically out of sight for most. Luckily, we saw some others that showed better later in the day. We also had a flyover by a small flock of Budgerigars, which was a really nice surprise. As we left the quail-thrush area we got excellent views of a pair of Mallee Emu-wrens. This Endangered (BirdLife International) species has a tiny, highly precarious global range and we were thrilled to find them, the spinifex grass they live in was looking incredible this year after all rainfall too.
Chestnut Quail-thrush gave some incredible views as it sang from a perch that was just visible through the unusually long spinifex flowers (a result of bumper rains). The whole region was looking stunning, with tons of growth and birds breeding all over the place!
After a quick cup of tea/coffee and some snacks, we dropped down to another spot in the dunes, where we found our third main target of the day, with surprising ease (again)! After getting into position out of sight (as much as possible given the sparse vegetation) we waited for our target bird to appear, suddenly we were face-to-face with a Striated Grasswren. The bird performed excellently for everyone, which was a nice surprise given how tough they can be at times.
The shy and localized Striated Grasswren showed remarkably well for us.
Covering off some different areas in the park during the middle of the day resulted in yet more top birds, including Southern Scrub Robin, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Inland Thornbill, Splendid Fairywren, Weebill, Regent Parrot, White-browed Babbler, and many more.
During the afternoon and early evening, we did some birding around the town of Ouyen. We had some excellent views of Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo (see photo in tour summary section), White-backed Swallow, Purple-backed Fairywren, Southern Whiteface, and Spotted Nightjar. The sunset and moonrise were spectacular too.
Day 6, 8th November 2022. Mildura to Deniliquin
We had a very long day, somewhat extended by the serious floods going on in northern Victoria and southern New South Wales, which resulted in some changed plans and flexibility in our route between our start and end points! The majority of the morning and afternoon was spent traveling, though we picked up several new birds along the way, including Apostlebird, Chestnut-crowned Babbler, Australian Owlet-nightjar, Crimson (Yellow) Rosella, and Red-capped Robin. It was quite incredible driving past hundreds of kilometers of flooded land, with many trees getting water for the first time in over 30 years in some cases, as the unprecedented (in recent times) flood waters were rising. We picked up several ducks (but only ones we had seen before), herons (our best view of White-necked Heron so far), and raptors (plenty of Nankeen Kestrels, Brown Falcons, Black Kites, Whistling Kites, and Little Eagle sightings) along these areas.
The main event for the day, however, was our evening trip out onto the Hay plains, north of Deniliquin in New South Wales. We met up with Phil, our local guide and drove north. There was lots of flooding along the road and a few stops produced Magpie Goose, Hardhead, Australasian Shoveler, Black-tailed Nativehen, Hoary-headed Grebe, Australian White Ibis, Straw-necked Ibis, and Little Pied Cormorant.
We arrived at a specific spot in the vast plains where we enjoyed watching a stunning sunset and just as impressive moonrise at the same time. As the evening progressed, we got to witness the rare sight of a total lunar eclipse while we were birding. As we commenced walking, we could hear singing Horsfield’s Bush Lark and soon were watching a couple of Stubble Quails at close range. We spent about the next hour walking circuits around a huge paddock on the plain, finding Fat-tailed Dunnart (a carnivorous marsupial), Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Western Grey Kangaroo, Red Kangaroo, and House Mouse. Suddenly however we found our main target, Plains-wanderer. The bird was a male so not as colored as the female, but we were happy to see one given how tough they can be to see. The bird showed brilliantly, but we wanted a bit more, so we continued walking and not very far away we found ourselves looking at a gorgeous female bird, she too showed wonderfully, and we all got great views (see trip report cover image).
Watching multiple Plains-wanderers under the total lunar eclipse was rather unique.
After the two great Plains-wanderer sightings we started our walk back to the car and after a short way, remarkably, picked up another pair of birds, this time the female was calling, an incredible sight and haunting sound. We enjoyed watching and listening to this bird and then continued on our way back. We even had Pink-eared Ducks calling as they flew over us here. The rest of the walk back and journey to town was fairly uneventful, though we did spot an Eastern Barn Owl along the road. After a rather long day we got back to our hotel in the early hours of the morning. Having seen Plains-wanderer so well was a real highlight of the tour, however, to get to see them in the strange red glow of the total lunar eclipse and a heavily flooded landscape was something else entirely, a unique experience and one that probably won’t be forgotten for a long time.
Day 7, 9th November 2022. Deniliquin to Chiltern
We afforded ourselves a lay in after our late finish yesterday and had a late and tasty breakfast in Deniliquin, still all rather excited about events from the previous evening. We had a relaxing day birding our way from Deniliquin in New South Wales to Chiltern, back in Victoria. A few stops near Deniliquin gave us our first Superb Parrots of the tour and we also found Little Friarbird, Jacky Winter, Western Gerygone, and a few other species. A perched Wedge-tailed Eagle at the side of the road was rather regal (and massive).
Our afternoon birding took us to the Warby-Ovens National Park. Here we got brief views of Turquoise Parrot, along with Restless Flycatcher (living up to its name), Noisy Friarbird, White-throated Gerygone, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, and Yellow-tufted Honeyeater.
Day 8, 10th November 2022. Chiltern to Healesville
An enjoyable pre-breakfast birding session in Chiltern-Mt. Pilot National Park gave us perched views of Turquoise Parrot, our main avian target. What a stunning bird and we really enjoyed the sighting of an adult male looking resplendent in the early morning sunlight. Just prior to the parrot sighting we had one of the mammal highlights of the whole tour when we saw a mother Koala and her joey (baby) up in a tree, they gave some great views for us.
As far as Koala sightings go, this one was pretty much perfect!
Our morning birding gave us several other good birds, including Square-tailed Kite, Pallid Cuckoo, Sacred Kingfisher, Fuscous Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, White-bellied Cuckooshrike, Olive-backed Oriole, Noisy Friarbird, White-throated Gerygone, Western Gerygone, and Little Lorikeet.
As we drove to Healesville, we made a few strategic stops along the way. These stops gave us yet more new birds, including some absolute belters like Pilotbird, Red-browed Treecreeper, Gang-gang Cockatoo, Flame Robin, Eastern Spinebill, Bell Miner, and an excellent Victoria bird in the form of a vocal male Common Cicadabird.
It is not every day that a Pilotbird hops out into the open on the top of a tree fern!
Day 9, 11th November 2022. Healesville to Melbourne
A productive pre-breakfast walk, near to the town of Healesville, gave us lots of birds, with further looks at Red-browed Treecreeper and our first Rufous Fantail and Satin Flycatcher of the tour. Bird activity was high, with lots of parrots moving around, including Gang-gang Cockatoo, Long-billed Corella, Crimson (Crimson) Rosella, and Australian King Parrot. Small birds like thornbills, pardalotes, and scrubwrens were also in evidence.
After breakfast we visited a different area and had brief views of Superb Lyrebird. Later we would hear one singing, an impressive sound as it mimicked at least eight other species! We also had good views of Grey Currawong, several pairs of the attractive Flame Robin, along with Rose Robin, more Rufous Fantails, a pair of Olive Whistlers and pair of Australian Golden Whistlers, with Pilotbird, and many more. We also got to see some leeches, always a highlight!
Unfortunately, it was time to head back into Melbourne to complete our southern circuit of this eastern Australia birding tour. Before we said our goodbyes and thank you to Simon, we visited some hills on the outskirts of the city where we found our final new bird of this section of the tour, a stunning male Scarlet Robin which showed exceptionally well. Here we also found some beautiful and interesting orchids, including the bizarre Large Flying Duck Orchid – a highlight all on its own!
A Scarlet Robin showed well and was our final “new” bird in Victoria.
Day 10, 12th November 2022. Melbourne to Brisbane and birding Brisbane mangroves
We took our morning flight from Melbourne to Brisbane, where we arrived around noon. We moved across to the coastal area for lunch before commencing our birding in this new and very different region of Australia. After lunch we visited a few mangrove and wetland sites around Brisbane and got good views of all our main targets, these being Mangrove Honeyeater, Mangrove Gerygone, and Torresian Kingfisher. While looking for these birds we found plenty of other new birds for the trip, including Red-backed Fairywren, Tawny Grassbird, Grey-crowned Babbler, Brown Honeyeater, and Leaden Flycatcher. A few shorebirds were still hanging around a roost site and we noted Common Greenshank, Pacific Golden Plover, Far Eastern Curlew, Eurasian Whimbrel, Pied Oystercatcher, and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Out in the bay we found Australian Tern, Little Tern, Caspian Tern, and several species of herons and egrets.
Day 11, 13th November 2022. Birding Brisbane and travel to Lamington National Park
Our morning birding took us to the western suburbs of Brisbane. Our first stop was near our accommodation, where we saw a Pale-vented Bush-hen (thanks Rob!), not an easy task as this is usually one highly secretive species.
After arriving at our first proper birding location, some rainforest, new birds arrived thick and fast. We enjoyed our first Spangled Drongos, Topknot Pigeons, Brown Cuckoo-Doves, and Rufous Shrikethrushes, although our main targets were monarchs, and we had fabulous looks at both White-eared Monarch and Spectacled Monarch. To top off a great short birding session, we got to observe a pair of Rose-crowned Fruit Doves at close range and the male displaying to the female, those colors!
After a delightful breakfast (and the best coffee to date) we ventured into some drier eucalyptus forest, where we found Channel-billed Cuckoo, White-throated Honeyeater, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Pacific Baza (displaying), Oriental Dollarbird, and Double-barred Finch. However, the real highlight was probably the flock of over 300 White-throated Needletails that were wheeling about above us. We could hear these giant swifts screaming their heads off, and the noise they made when flying was rather loud too!
Rose-crowned Fruit Dove was a riot of color in the greens of the rainforest.
After our morning birding session, we headed south and into the mountains at Lamington National Park, noting our first Pheasant Coucal along the way. On our arrival in the beautiful rainforest of the national park we spend a couple of hours birding a productive trail. Here we found some great birds, including a male Paradise Riflebird and several foraging Green Catbirds, two of our main targets. Plenty of other new birds were found, such as Eastern Whipbird, Black-faced Monarch (our third monarch of the day!), Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Large-billed Scrubwren, Brown Gerygone, and the highly anticipated Australian Brushturkey! We also gained improved views of Rose Robin, Australian Golden Whistler, and Rufous Fantail. It was a fantastic introduction into the avifauna of the area. As we checked into our rooms at the famous O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, we were greeted by a riot of color from Regent Bowerbird, Satin Bowerbird, Crimson (Crimson) Rosella, and Australian King Parrot, all showing at close range.
Day 12, 14th November 2022. Birding Lamington National Park
An early start saw us hitting the trails out from O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. Around the lodge we saw plenty of Regent Bowerbirds, Satin Bowerbirds, and the other usual suspects like Australian Brushturkey, Pied Currawong, Crimson (Crimson) Rosella, and Australian King Parrot.
Our first real highlight of the morning was a pair of Australian Logrunners that were busily moving leaves looking for grubs. They have a very interesting foraging method that involves flicking their legs out sideways to move the leaf litter as they hunt for insects. Yellow-throated Scrubwren and White-browed Scrubwren were constantly at our feet, as were several pairs of Eastern Whipbirds and a couple of very vocal Wonga Pigeons. Plenty of other species we had seen the previous afternoon gave further views, such as Paradise Riflebird and Green Catbird.
After breakfast we heard two Albert’s Lyrebirds calling, and after a bit of a wait and by repositioning ourselves we all got to view this most wanted and very localized endemic. While looking for the lyrebird, we also noted a White-headed Pigeon quietly sitting above us. Walking onto the canopy walkway gave us an interesting perspective on the forest and we saw Rose Robin (our best view of the tour), Eastern Spinebill, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Large-billed Scrubwren, Brown Thornbill, and Silvereye.
Another localized endemic, Australian Logrunner, showed well on the dark forest floor.
After exploring the canopy walkway, we heard and them glimpsed a Noisy Pitta, but not great views for most. However, a short while later (after more logrunners, whipbirds, fantails, and other small birds) we heard another Noisy Pitta calling. We got into a position where we had a better view of the forest and after a short while located the male, getting great views of this attractive species. As we made our final walk of the morning back to the lodge for lunch, we got further views of Albert’s Lyrebird, this time feeding and a little more out in the open. While watching the lyrebird we had a pair of Bassian Thrushes crossing the trail with food and then continue to show wonderfully until we had had our fill, it was hard to know which way to look!
After lunch we enjoyed more of the same wonderful birds we had seen over the past 24 hours in Lamington National Park, with the addition of a brief Russet-tailed Thrush sighting (this after seeing three Bassian Thrushes on the afternoon walk too!).
We enjoyed some excellent views of Noisy Pitta while birding at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
A gorgeous male Satin Bowerbird sat near his bower.
Day 13, 15th November 2022. Brisbane to Cairns and birding Cairns Esplanade
We had a final pre-breakfast morning walk at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat before it was time to depart (after another hearty breakfast!) from the mountain down to Brisbane, before catching our afternoon flight to Cairns. The expected Regent Bowerbird, Satin Bowerbird, Australian King Parrot, and Crimson (Crimson) Rosella greeted us outside the accommodation, they were also joined by a flock of rather cute Red-browed Finches. We then headed into the trails for a short walk, finding many of the now familiar species. A Russet-tailed Thrush was playing hide and seek and proving difficult to get good views, while Bassian Thrush was the total opposite, feeding their young out in the open, giving fantastic views. Australian Logrunners were very vocal and again showed well, as did a pair of Black-faced Monarchs. After breakfast it was time to leave this piece of paradise and drive back down to Brisbane for our early afternoon flight to Cairns.
Regent Bowerbird is always one of the most popular birds at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat and it is easy to see why, it is absolutely stunning.
We arrived in Cairns in the late afternoon and transferred across to our nearby hotel on the famous Cairns Esplanade. A short walk at dusk in the hour before dinner gave us more new birds, including Pacific Reef Heron, Nankeen Night Heron, Varied Honeyeater, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Metallic Starling, Pacific Swift, and Double-eyed Fig Parrot. After a wonderful fish supper, we walked back to our hotel in dark where we saw plenty of Spectacled Flying Foxes flying around, and a single Bush Stone-curlew walking along the road! We would hear plenty of them giving their strange calls during the night here and at a few other places over the final few nights of the tour.
Day 14, 16th November 2022. Great Barrier Reef trip
As always, this was an enjoyable trip out onto the sea and over to Michaelmas Cay. However, before we joined our boat trip, our breakfast venue allowed us some shorebird viewing opportunities on the incoming tide. Here we noted Great Knot, Far Eastern Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Greater Sand Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Grey-tailed Tattler, and Broad-billed Sandpiper.
Once we got out to Michaelmas Cay, we were greeted by thousands of birds, an impressive sight, sound, and smell! Brown Noddies, Lesser Crested Terns, and Sooty Terns appeared most numerous with a big breeding season underway. Greater Crested Terns and Brown Boobies were also present in high numbers, the boobies with some huge white chicks. A few Bridled Terns, Black-naped Terns, and Great Frigatebirds were observed, as was a single Red-footed Booby. Ruddy Turnstones were scattered about around the cay, and Silver Gulls were present and trying to make off with either tern or noddy eggs. As is the case on this trip, plenty of time was spent enjoying the marvels of the underwater reef life, which today included numerous gorgeous tropical fish and Black-tipped Reef Shark (to name a couple of highlights). Once back on land we collected our vehicle and set off south to Mission Beach for the night.
Day 15, 17th November 2022. Mission Beach and Atherton Tablelands
Our morning was spent driving around Mission Beach. It was a hot morning, but eventually we found our main target, the magnificent Southern Cassowary. It kept us waiting right up until our time in the area was almost up, but once we found one, we enjoyed fantastic views. A definite bird of the trip contender and a real privilege to see.
Southern Cassowary was a highly anticipated bird for the trip, and we got great views.
While driving around the area looking for cassowaries, we found several new species for the trip and improved views of some others too, such as Fairy Gerygone, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Dusky Myzomela, Black Butcherbird, Green Oriole, Australian Swiftlet, Pacific Swift, White-throated Needletail, Bush Stone-curlew, Osprey, Metallic Starling, Olive-backed Sunbird, and Spangled Drongo either side of breakfast.
By the middle of the morning the temperatures were soaring, so we drove up into the Atherton Tablelands. After lunch and sitting out the hottest part of the day, we visited Mount Hypipamee National Park. Birding here was excellent, and we found several great new birds, like Victoria’s Riflebird, Bower’s Shrikethrush, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Grey-headed Robin, Grey Whistler, and Bridled Honeyeater. One of the major highlights of our time here however, involved the sighting of a Lumoltz’s Tree Kangaroo that was giving some great views low down.
After some time in the rainforest, we visited Hasties Swamp, where we found Comb-crested Jacana, Pied Stilt, Wandering Whistling Duck, Royal Spoonbill, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Red-backed Fairywren, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Scaly-breasted Munia, and Macleay’s Honeyeater. After our birding session here we called in at some arable fields where we found Sarus Crane and Horsfield’s Bush Lark. As dusk approached, we stopped at a small river where we found our main target, Platypus, and watched as hundreds of Magpie Geese flew overhead to their roost site. This ended a fantastic day’s birding in Far North Queensland.
Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo was yet another of the mammal highlights from the tour.
Day 16, 18th November 2022. Birding the Atherton Tablelands and arid zone
We spent the morning birding at several rainforest sites on the Atherton Tablelands, before dropping down in elevation to the more arid parts of the area. Across the day we logged a massive list of species, including some restricted-range regional endemics and lots of new trip birds.
Our first birding was at our accommodation, where we enjoyed great views of Spotted Catbird, Victoria’s Riflebird, Superb Fruit Dove, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Macleay’s Honeyeater, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Forest Kingfisher, and lots more. We would also see most of these birds at our other rainforest sites during the morning. After breakfast we called in at a different site and found Chowchilla, Pale-yellow Robin, and Tooth-billed Bowerbird (impressive views of a male calling from his bower). Our final birding site of the morning gave us Cryptic Honeyeater, Bridled Honeyeater, and Atherton Scrubwren, as well as other species we had seen before, but better views of some, such as Grey-headed Robin and Yellow-breasted Boatbill. Our mammal list grew with the addition of Musky Rat Kangaroo during one of our rainforest birding stops.
Our accommodation in the Crater Lakes area of the Atherton Tablelands was wonderful for observing Victoria’s Riflebird.
For the afternoon birding session, we visited a couple of arid zone sites that were both excellent and gave us a load of new birds, including some real goodies! At the first stop we found an Australian Bustard with young, and then followed it up with a group of localized Mareeba Rock Wallabies. A short while later we were watching a flock of around 20 Squatter Pigeons. These birds walked about oblivious to our presence, and we got some fabulous looks. Bar-shouldered Doves and Peaceful Doves were also feeding with the pigeons. A Great Bowerbird appeared too, as did Scaly-breasted Lorikeet. Our final birding session of the day was just north of Mareeba. We “twitched” a site that had recently had some Oriental Pratincoles reported. Not long after we arrived in the area, we located two birds and enjoyed lengthy views as they foraged in the company of Pacific Golden Plovers. While birding here we also found Blue-winged Kookaburra, Red-winged Parrot, Magpie Goose, Yellow Honeyeater, Double-barred Finch, Red-backed Fairywren, Horsfield’s Bush Lark, Australian Pipit, and double figures of Australian Bustards looking glorious in the late afternoon sunlight.
We had incredible looks at a flock of Squatter Pigeons. They were walking around right at our feet, totally unconcerned by our presence.
As we pulled into our accommodation for the night, several large flocks of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos flew over, Brush Cuckoo sang, Oriental Dollarbird was catching insects in the security light, and the Bush Stone-curlews were getting vocal. It had been another long, but very enjoyable, day birding in the Atherton Tablelands.
Day 17, 19th November 2022. Birding Mt Lewis area and Daintree River cruise
Our final day of birding started in the arid country around Mareeba, included a trip to Mount Lewis National Park for some high elevation birds, and ended on the Daintree River with a dusk boat cruise. It was another long but also a highly rewarding day. Our first birding was right at our accommodation where Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Great Bowerbird, Pacific Baza, and Yellow Honeyeater were noted. A park on the edge of town and some roadside stops proved productive, with Little Bronze Cuckoo, Leaden Flycatcher, Varied Triller, Pacific Koel, Black Butcherbird, Pheasant Coucal, Blue-faced Honeyeater, and Forest Kingfisher some of the highlights.
A change in habitats gave us different birds. A patch of rainforest was very busy, and we got one our main tour targets here, with a stunning display put on by a couple of Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers. They had clearly just arrived from Papua New Guinea and were busy setting up breeding territories. While looking for the kingfishers, we found Northern Fantail, Pale-yellow Robin, Spectacled Monarch, Cryptic Honeyeater, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Brown-backed Honeyeater, and Macleay’s Honeyeater. Wetlands here held Magpie Geese, Green Pygmy Geese, Brown Quail, and White-browed Crake.
Gaining some elevation, we took a trail on Mount Lewis. A short walk here was very good, and we found our main targets quickly and had crippling views of all, these being Fernwren, Chowchilla, and Mountain Thornbill. Atherton Scrubwren, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Paradise Riflebird, Spotted Catbird, Barred Cuckooshrike, Eastern Whipbird, Grey-headed Robin, and Bridled Honeyeater were all also recorded during this walk.
There was a bit of a territorial dispute going on with a couple of Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers that had just arrived from Papua New Guinea and were busy setting up breeding territories.
After our brief mountain birding trip, we dropped down to the coast for a late lunch. We stopped at a beach briefly where we saw an Osprey catch a fish and picked up Caspian Tern, Greater Crested Tern, and Little Tern, along with Bar-tailed Godwit, Pied Oystercatcher, and Far Eastern Curlew.
Our final birding of the tour had us on a small boat exploring the Daintree River. This is always a fun and educational trip and was a wonderful way to end our tour, and we found some great wildlife too! The first channel we explored gave us three of our main targets almost immediately, although two of them were a bit brief, with both Black Bittern and Spotted Whistling Duck (a recent colonist of Australia from New Guinea) vanishing without giving us good looks. However, Great-billed Heron, one of the usually secretive species, perched up for us giving excellent views. Plenty of other small birds were being enjoyed too, such as Large-billed Gerygone, Shining Flycatcher, and Green Oriole. We also saw two Saltwater Crocodiles and two Green Tree Snakes during the second half of our boat trip. Herons and egrets were busily flying around at dusk and a huge Black-necked Stork flew over too, distinctive even at long range! One final highlight, and pretty much the last new bird of the tour, was a Papuan Frogmouth sat on its nest, it gave excellent views. We left the river and drove back to Cairns where we arrived in the evening after stopping for dinner along the way. The task of selecting bird of the trip was not easy, especially after recording almost 400 species. However, the top picks included Southern Cassowary, Malleefowl, Mallee Emu-wren, and Spotted Pardalote.
One of several new birds added to our trip list during our Daintree River cruise, this huge and usually shy Great-billed Heron was a real treat.
Day 18, 20th November 2022. Departure from Cairns
The tour concluded with our departure from Cairns. Some of the group had a flock of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos feeding in trees right in the airport car park before checking in for their flights.
Tour weather conditions note
Conditions in Victoria and New South Wales were like nothing that has been seen for over 30 years, with vast areas of flooding around most rivers, particularly the major rivers, like the mighty Murray River. Luckily, we were blessed with good weather during the trip, and we had no issues getting across and around the flooded areas. The inland flooding did mean that several species of ducks and shorebirds (waders) we usually easily find while in Victoria on this tour were just not present (they had gone inland to breed in the flooded conditions, which were now perfect for them). The rains had resulted in masses of plant growth, particularly grasses and herbaceous plants, as well as giving trees a drink for the first time in a long time. As a result of this, many species were having bumper breeding seasons and were unusually conspicuous in some cases, which was great for us! Conditions in Queensland were more typical, but these areas had clearly had a good dose of water too, and birdlife was booming everywhere we went, which made for an excellent tour.
Bird List – Following IOC (12.2)
Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen. The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following BirdLife International: CR = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable.
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Cassowaries, Emu (Casuariidae)|
|Southern Cassowary||Casuarius casuarius|
|Magpie Goose (Anseranatidae)|
|Magpie Goose||Anseranas semipalmata|
|Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)|
|Spotted Whistling Duck||Dendrocygna guttata|
|Plumed Whistling Duck||Dendrocygna eytoni|
|Wandering Whistling Duck||Dendrocygna arcuata|
|Cape Barren Goose||Cereopsis novaehollandiae|
|Black Swan||Cygnus atratus|
|Radjah Shelduck||Radjah radjah|
|Australian Shelduck||Tadorna tadornoides|
|Pink-eared Duck (H)||Malacorhynchus membranaceus|
|Maned Duck||Chenonetta jubata|
|Green Pygmy Goose||Nettapus pulchellus|
|Australasian Shoveler||Spatula rhynchotis|
|Pacific Black Duck||Anas superciliosa|
|Grey Teal||Anas gracilis|
|Chestnut Teal||Anas castanea|
|Australian Brushturkey||Alectura lathami|
|Malleefowl – VU||Leipoa ocellata|
|Orange-footed Scrubfowl||Megapodius reinwardt|
|Helmeted Guineafowl||Numida meleagris|
|Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)|
|Brown Quail||Synoicus ypsilophorus|
|Stubble Quail||Coturnix pectoralis|
|Spotted Nightjar||Eurostopodus argus|
|Papuan Frogmouth||Podargus papuensis|
|Australian Owlet-nightjar||Aegotheles cristatus|
|Australian Swiftlet||Aerodramus terraereginae|
|White-throated Needletail||Hirundapus caudacutus|
|Pacific Swift||Apus pacificus|
|Australian Bustard||Ardeotis australis|
|Pheasant Coucal||Centropus phasianinus|
|Pacific Koel||Eudynamys orientalis|
|Channel-billed Cuckoo||Scythrops novaehollandiae|
|Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo||Chrysococcyx basalis|
|Shining Bronze Cuckoo||Chrysococcyx lucidus|
|Little Bronze Cuckoo||Chrysococcyx minutillus|
|Pallid Cuckoo||Cacomantis pallidus|
|Fan-tailed Cuckoo||Cacomantis flabelliformis|
|Brush Cuckoo||Cacomantis variolosus|
|Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)|
|Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon)||Columba livia dom.|
|White-headed Pigeon||Columba leucomela|
|Spotted Dove||Spilopelia chinensis|
|Brown Cuckoo-Dove||Macropygia phasianella|
|Pacific Emerald Dove||Chalcophaps longirostris|
|Common Bronzewing||Phaps chalcoptera|
|Crested Pigeon||Ocyphaps lophotes|
|Squatter Pigeon||Geophaps scripta|
|Wonga Pigeon||Leucosarcia melanoleuca|
|Peaceful Dove||Geopelia placida|
|Bar-shouldered Dove||Geopelia humeralis|
|Wompoo Fruit Dove||Ptilinopus magnificus|
|Superb Fruit Dove||Ptilinopus superbus|
|Rose-crowned Fruit Dove||Ptilinopus regina|
|Torresian Imperial Pigeon||Ducula spilorrhoa|
|Topknot Pigeon||Lopholaimus antarcticus|
|Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)|
|Buff-banded Rail (H)||Hypotaenidia philippensis|
|Black-tailed Nativehen||Tribonyx ventralis|
|Dusky Moorhen||Gallinula tenebrosa|
|Eurasian Coot||Fulica atra|
|Australasian Swamphen||Porphyrio melanotus|
|White-browed Crake (H)||Poliolimnas cinereus|
|Pale-vented Bush-hen||Amaurornis moluccana|
|Sarus Crane – VU||Antigone antigone|
|Australasian Grebe||Tachybaptus novaehollandiae|
|Hoary-headed Grebe||Poliocephalus poliocephalus|
|Great Crested Grebe||Podiceps cristatus|
|Painted Buttonquail||Turnix varius|
|Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)|
|Bush Stone-curlew||Burhinus grallarius|
|Pied Oystercatcher||Haematopus longirostris|
|Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)|
|Pied Stilt||Himantopus leucocephalus|
|Red-necked Avocet||Recurvirostra novaehollandiae|
|Masked Lapwing||Vanellus miles|
|Pacific Golden Plover||Pluvialis fulva|
|Red-capped Plover||Charadrius ruficapillus|
|Lesser Sand Plover||Charadrius mongolus|
|Greater Sand Plover||Charadrius leschenaultii|
|Hooded Dotterel – VU||Thinornis cucullatus|
|Black-fronted Dotterel||Elseyornis melanops|
|Comb-crested Jacana||Irediparra gallinacea|
|Plains-wanderer – CR||Pedionomus torquatus|
|Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)|
|Eurasian Whimbrel||Numenius phaeopus|
|Far Eastern Curlew – EN||Numenius madagascariensis|
|Bar-tailed Godwit||Limosa lapponica|
|Ruddy Turnstone||Arenaria interpres|
|Great Knot – EN||Calidris tenuirostris|
|Broad-billed Sandpiper||Calidris falcinellus|
|Sharp-tailed Sandpiper||Calidris acuminata|
|Curlew Sandpiper||Calidris ferruginea|
|Red-necked Stint||Calidris ruficollis|
|Latham’s Snipe||Gallinago hardwickii|
|Common Sandpiper||Actitis hypoleucos|
|Grey-tailed Tattler||Tringa brevipes|
|Common Greenshank||Tringa nebularia|
|Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)|
|Oriental Pratincole||Glareola maldivarum|
|Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)|
|Brown Noddy||Anous stolidus|
|Silver Gull||Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae|
|Kelp Gull||Larus dominicanus|
|Australian Tern||Gelochelidon macrotarsa|
|Caspian Tern||Hydroprogne caspia|
|Greater Crested Tern||Thalasseus bergii|
|Lesser Crested Tern||Thalasseus bengalensis|
|Little Tern||Sternula albifrons|
|Bridled Tern||Onychoprion anaethetus|
|Sooty Tern||Onychoprion fuscatus|
|Black-naped Tern||Sterna sumatrana|
|Parasitic Jaeger||Stercorarius parasiticus|
|Black-necked Stork||Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus|
|Great Frigatebird||Fregata minor|
|Gannets, Boobies (Sulidae)|
|Australasian Gannet||Morus serrator|
|Red-footed Booby||Sula sula|
|Brown Booby||Sula leucogaster|
|Anhingas, Darters (Anhingidae)|
|Australasian Darter||Anhinga novaehollandiae|
|Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)|
|Little Pied Cormorant||Microcarbo melanoleucos|
|Black-faced Cormorant||Phalacrocorax fuscescens|
|Australian Pied Cormorant||Phalacrocorax varius|
|Little Black Cormorant||Phalacrocorax sulcirostris|
|Great Cormorant||Phalacrocorax carbo|
|Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)|
|Australian White Ibis||Threskiornis molucca|
|Straw-necked Ibis||Threskiornis spinicollis|
|Royal Spoonbill||Platalea regia|
|Yellow-billed Spoonbill||Platalea flavipes|
|Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)|
|Black Bittern||Ixobrychus flavicollis|
|Nankeen Night Heron||Nycticorax caledonicus|
|Striated Heron||Butorides striata|
|Eastern Cattle Egret||Bubulcus coromandus|
|White-necked Heron||Ardea pacifica|
|Great-billed Heron||Ardea sumatrana|
|Great Egret||Ardea alba|
|Intermediate Egret||Ardea intermedia|
|White-faced Heron||Egretta novaehollandiae|
|Little Egret||Egretta garzetta|
|Pacific Reef Heron||Egretta sacra|
|Australian Pelican||Pelecanus conspicillatus|
|Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)|
|Black-shouldered Kite||Elanus axillaris|
|Square-tailed Kite||Lophoictinia isura|
|Pacific Baza||Aviceda subcristata|
|Little Eagle||Hieraaetus morphnoides|
|Wedge-tailed Eagle||Aquila audax|
|Brown Goshawk||Accipiter fasciatus|
|Swamp Harrier||Circus approximans|
|Spotted Harrier||Circus assimilis|
|Black Kite||Milvus migrans|
|Whistling Kite||Haliastur sphenurus|
|Brahminy Kite||Haliastur indus|
|White-bellied Sea Eagle||Haliaeetus leucogaster|
|Barn Owls (Tytonidae)|
|Eastern Barn Owl||Tyto javanica|
|Powerful Owl||Ninox strenua|
|Oriental Dollarbird||Eurystomus orientalis|
|Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher||Tanysiptera sylvia|
|Laughing Kookaburra||Dacelo novaeguineae|
|Blue-winged Kookaburra||Dacelo leachii|
|Forest Kingfisher||Todiramphus macleayii|
|Torresian Kingfisher||Todiramphus sordidus|
|Sacred Kingfisher||Todiramphus sanctus|
|Azure Kingfisher (H)||Ceyx azureus|
|Rainbow Bee-eater||Merops ornatus|
|Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)|
|Nankeen Kestrel||Falco cenchroides|
|Australian Hobby||Falco longipennis|
|Brown Falcon||Falco berigora|
|Peregrine Falcon||Falco peregrinus|
|Red-tailed Black Cockatoo||Calyptorhynchus banksii|
|Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo||Zanda funerea|
|Gang-gang Cockatoo||Callocephalon fimbriatum|
|Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo||Lophochroa leadbeateri|
|Long-billed Corella||Cacatua tenuirostris|
|Little Corella||Cacatua sanguinea|
|Sulphur-crested Cockatoo||Cacatua galerita|
|Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae)|
|Superb Parrot||Polytelis swainsonii|
|Regent Parrot||Polytelis anthopeplus|
|Australian King Parrot||Alisterus scapularis|
|Red-winged Parrot||Aprosmictus erythropterus|
|Red-rumped Parrot||Psephotus haematonotus|
|Eastern Bluebonnet||Northiella haematogaster|
|Mulga Parrot||Psephotellus varius|
|Crimson Rosella||Platycercus elegans|
|Eastern Rosella||Platycercus eximius|
|Australian Ringneck||Barnardius zonarius|
|Blue-winged Parrot||Neophema chrysostoma|
|Turquoise Parrot||Neophema pulchella|
|Purple-crowned Lorikeet||Parvipsitta porphyrocephala|
|Little Lorikeet||Parvipsitta pusilla|
|Musk Lorikeet||Glossopsitta concinna|
|Scaly-breasted Lorikeet||Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus|
|Rainbow Lorikeet||Trichoglossus moluccanus|
|Double-eyed Fig Parrot||Cyclopsitta diophthalma|
|Noisy Pitta||Pitta versicolor|
|Albert’s Lyrebird||Menura alberti|
|Superb Lyrebird||Menura novaehollandiae|
|Green Catbird||Ailuroedus crassirostris|
|Spotted Catbird||Ailuroedus maculosus|
|Tooth-billed Bowerbird||Scenopoeetes dentirostris|
|Golden Bowerbird (H)||Prionodura newtoniana|
|Regent Bowerbird||Sericulus chrysocephalus|
|Satin Bowerbird||Ptilonorhynchus violaceus|
|Great Bowerbird||Chlamydera nuchalis|
|Australasian Treecreepers (Climacteridae)|
|White-throated Treecreeper||Cormobates leucophaea|
|Red-browed Treecreeper||Climacteris erythrops|
|Brown Treecreeper||Climacteris picumnus|
|Australasian Wrens (Maluridae)|
|Purple-backed Fairywren||Malurus assimilis|
|Superb Fairywren||Malurus cyaneus|
|Splendid Fairywren||Malurus splendens|
|Red-backed Fairywren||Malurus melanocephalus|
|White-winged Fairywren||Malurus leucopterus|
|Southern Emu-wren||Stipiturus malachurus|
|Mallee Emu-wren – EN||Stipiturus mallee|
|Striated Grasswren||Amytornis striatus|
|Eastern Spinebill||Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris|
|White-fronted Chat||Epthianura albifrons|
|Brown-backed Honeyeater||Ramsayornis modestus|
|Tawny-crowned Honeyeater||Gliciphila melanops|
|Dusky Myzomela||Myzomela obscura|
|Scarlet Myzomela||Myzomela sanguinolenta|
|Little Friarbird||Philemon citreogularis|
|Hornbill Friarbird||Philemon yorki|
|Noisy Friarbird||Philemon corniculatus|
|Macleay’s Honeyeater||Xanthotis macleayanus|
|Striped Honeyeater||Plectorhyncha lanceolata|
|Painted Honeyeater – VU||Grantiella picta|
|Crescent Honeyeater||Phylidonyris pyrrhopterus|
|New Holland Honeyeater||Phylidonyris novaehollandiae|
|Brown Honeyeater||Lichmera indistincta|
|White-eared Honeyeater||Nesoptilotis leucotis|
|Blue-faced Honeyeater||Entomyzon cyanotis|
|Brown-headed Honeyeater||Melithreptus brevirostris|
|White-throated Honeyeater||Melithreptus albogularis|
|White-naped Honeyeater||Melithreptus lunatus|
|Yellow Honeyeater||Stomiopera flava|
|Yellow-spotted Honeyeater||Meliphaga notata|
|Lewin’s Honeyeater||Meliphaga lewinii|
|White-fronted Honeyeater||Purnella albifrons|
|Yellow-tufted Honeyeater||Lichenostomus melanops|
|Cryptic Honeyeater||Microptilotis imitatrix|
|Varied Honeyeater||Gavicalis versicolor|
|Mangrove Honeyeater||Gavicalis fasciogularis|
|Singing Honeyeater||Gavicalis virescens|
|Fuscous Honeyeater||Ptilotula fusca|
|Yellow-plumed Honeyeater||Ptilotula ornata|
|White-plumed Honeyeater||Ptilotula penicillata|
|Yellow-faced Honeyeater||Caligavis chrysops|
|Little Wattlebird||Anthochaera chrysoptera|
|Red Wattlebird||Anthochaera carunculata|
|Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater||Acanthagenys rufogularis|
|Bridled Honeyeater||Bolemoreus frenatus|
|Bell Miner||Manorina melanophrys|
|Noisy Miner||Manorina melanocephala|
|Yellow-throated Miner||Manorina flavigula|
|Rufous Bristlebird||Dasyornis broadbenti|
|Spotted Pardalote||Pardalotus punctatus|
|Striated Pardalote||Pardalotus striatus|
|Australasian Warblers (Acanthizidae)|
|Striated Fieldwren||Calamanthus fuliginosus|
|Rufous Fieldwren||Calamanthus campestris|
|Chestnut-rumped Heathwren||Hylacola pyrrhopygia|
|Shy Heathwren||Hylacola cauta|
|Speckled Warbler||Pyrrholaemus sagittatus|
|Yellow-throated Scrubwren||Neosericornis citreogularis|
|Large-billed Scrubwren||Sericornis magnirostra|
|Atherton Scrubwren||Sericornis keri|
|White-browed Scrubwren||Sericornis frontalis|
|Brown Gerygone||Gerygone mouki|
|Mangrove Gerygone||Gerygone levigaster|
|Western Gerygone||Gerygone fusca|
|Large-billed Gerygone||Gerygone magnirostris|
|White-throated Gerygone||Gerygone olivacea|
|Fairy Gerygone||Gerygone palpebrosa|
|Mountain Thornbill||Acanthiza katherina|
|Brown Thornbill||Acanthiza pusilla|
|Inland Thornbill||Acanthiza apicalis|
|Chestnut-rumped Thornbill||Acanthiza uropygialis|
|Buff-rumped Thornbill||Acanthiza reguloides|
|Yellow-rumped Thornbill||Acanthiza chrysorrhoa|
|Yellow Thornbill||Acanthiza nana|
|Striated Thornbill||Acanthiza lineata|
|Southern Whiteface||Aphelocephala leucopsis|
|Australasian Babblers (Pomatostomidae)|
|Grey-crowned Babbler||Pomatostomus temporalis|
|White-browed Babbler||Pomatostomus superciliosus|
|Chestnut-crowned Babbler||Pomatostomus ruficeps|
|Australian Logrunner||Orthonyx temminckii|
|Eastern Whipbird||Psophodes olivaceus|
|Jewel-babblers, Quail-thrushes (Cinclosomatidae)|
|Chestnut Quail-thrush||Cinclosoma castanotum|
|Yellow-breasted Boatbill||Machaerirhynchus flaviventer|
|Woodswallows, Butcherbirds & Allies (Artamidae)|
|White-breasted Woodswallow||Artamus leucorynchus|
|Black-faced Woodswallow||Artamus cinereus|
|Dusky Woodswallow||Artamus cyanopterus|
|Black Butcherbird||Melloria quoyi|
|Australian Magpie||Gymnorhina tibicen|
|Grey Butcherbird||Cracticus torquatus|
|Pied Butcherbird||Cracticus nigrogularis|
|Pied Currawong||Strepera graculina|
|Grey Currawong||Strepera versicolor|
|Barred Cuckooshrike||Coracina lineata|
|Black-faced Cuckooshrike||Coracina novaehollandiae|
|White-bellied Cuckooshrike||Coracina papuensis|
|Common Cicadabird||Edolisoma tenuirostre|
|Varied Triller||Lalage leucomela|
|Varied Sittella||Daphoenositta chrysoptera|
|Crested Shriketit||Falcunculus frontatus|
|Whistlers & Allies (Pachycephalidae)|
|Olive Whistler||Pachycephala olivacea|
|Gilbert’s Whistler||Pachycephala inornata|
|Grey Whistler||Pachycephala simplex|
|Australian Golden Whistler||Pachycephala pectoralis|
|Western Whistler (H)||Pachycephala fuliginosa|
|Rufous Whistler||Pachycephala rufiventris|
|Bower’s Shrikethrush||Colluricincla boweri|
|Rufous Shrikethrush||Colluricincla rufogaster|
|Grey Shrikethrush||Colluricincla harmonica|
|Figbirds, Orioles, Turnagra (Oriolidae)|
|Australasian Figbird||Sphecotheres vieilloti|
|Olive-backed Oriole||Oriolus sagittatus|
|Green Oriole||Oriolus flavocinctus|
|Spangled Drongo||Dicrurus bracteatus|
|Willie Wagtail||Rhipidura leucophrys|
|Northern Fantail||Rhipidura rufiventris|
|Grey Fantail||Rhipidura albiscapa|
|Rufous Fantail||Rhipidura rufifrons|
|Spectacled Monarch||Symposiachrus trivirgatus|
|Black-faced Monarch||Monarcha melanopsis|
|White-eared Monarch||Carterornis leucotis|
|Pied Monarch (H)||Arses kaupi|
|Leaden Flycatcher||Myiagra rubecula|
|Satin Flycatcher||Myiagra cyanoleuca|
|Shining Flycatcher||Myiagra alecto|
|Restless Flycatcher||Myiagra inquieta|
|Crows, Jays (Corvidae)|
|Torresian Crow||Corvus orru|
|Little Crow||Corvus bennetti|
|Little Raven||Corvus mellori|
|Australian Raven||Corvus coronoides|
|Australian Mudnesters (Corcoracidae)|
|White-winged Chough||Corcorax melanorhamphos|
|Paradise Riflebird||Ptiloris paradiseus|
|Victoria’s Riflebird||Ptiloris victoriae|
|Australasian Robins (Petroicidae)|
|Pale-yellow Robin||Tregellasia capito|
|Eastern Yellow Robin||Eopsaltria australis|
|Grey-headed Robin||Heteromyias cinereifrons|
|Southern Scrub Robin||Drymodes brunneopygia|
|Jacky Winter||Microeca fascinans|
|Rose Robin||Petroica rosea|
|Flame Robin||Petroica phoenicea|
|Scarlet Robin||Petroica boodang|
|Red-capped Robin||Petroica goodenovii|
|Horsfield’s Bush Lark||Mirafra javanica|
|Eurasian Skylark||Alauda arvensis|
|Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)|
|White-backed Swallow||Cheramoeca leucosterna|
|Welcome Swallow||Hirundo neoxena|
|Fairy Martin||Petrochelidon ariel|
|Tree Martin||Petrochelidon nigricans|
|Reed Warblers & Allies (Acrocephalidae)|
|Australian Reed Warbler||Acrocephalus australis|
|Grassbirds & Allies (Locustellidae)|
|Little Grassbird||Poodytes gramineus|
|Brown Songlark||Cincloramphus cruralis|
|Rufous Songlark||Cincloramphus mathewsi|
|Tawny Grassbird||Cincloramphus timoriensis|
|Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)|
|Golden-headed Cisticola||Cisticola exilis|
|Starlings, Rhabdornis (Sturnidae)|
|Metallic Starling||Aplonis metallica|
|Common Myna||Acridotheres tristis|
|Common Starling||Sturnus vulgaris|
|Russet-tailed Thrush||Zoothera heinei|
|Bassian Thrush||Zoothera lunulata|
|Common Blackbird||Turdus merula|
|Olive-backed Sunbird||Cinnyris jugularis|
|Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)|
|House Sparrow||Passer domesticus|
|Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)|
|Diamond Firetail||Stagonopleura guttata|
|Red-browed Finch||Neochmia temporalis|
|Double-barred Finch||Stizoptera bichenovii|
|Scaly-breasted Munia||Lonchura punctulata|
|Chestnut-breasted Mannikin||Lonchura castaneothorax|
|Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)|
|Australian Pipit||Anthus australis|
|Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)|
|European Greenfinch||Chloris chloris|
|European Goldfinch||Carduelis carduelis|
|Total heard only||7|
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Domestic Cat||Felis catus|
|Old World Fruit Bats (Pteropodidae)|
|Black Flying Fox||Pteropus alecto|
|Spectacled Flying Fox||Pteropus conspicillatus|
|Grey-headed Flying Fox||Pteropus poliocephalus|
|Yellow-footed Antechinus||Antechinus flavipes|
|Brown Antechinus||Antechinus stuartii|
|Fat-tailed Dunnart||Sminthopsis crassicaudata|
|Musky Rat Kangaroos (Hypsiprymnodontidae)|
|Musky Rat Kangaroo||Hypsiprymnodon moschatus|
|Kangaroos, Wallabies, and Allies (Macropodidae)|
|Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo||Dendrolagus lumholtzi|
|Agile Wallaby||Macropus agilis|
|Western Grey Kangaroo||Macropus fuliginosus|
|Eastern Grey Kangaroo||Macropus giganteus|
|Red-necked Wallaby||Macropus rufogriseus|
|Red Kangaroo||Macropus rufus|
|Mareeba Rock Wallaby||Petrogale mareeba|
|Red-legged Pademelon||Thylogale stigmatica|
|Red-necked Pademelon||Thylogale thetis|
|Swamp Wallaby||Wallabia bicolor|
|Cuscuses and Brushtail Possums (Phalangeridae)|
|Common Brushtail Possum||Trichosurus vulpecula|
|Hares and Rabbits (Leporidae)|
|European Hare||Lepus europaeus|
|European Rabbit||Oryctolagus cuniculus|
|Short-beaked Echidna||Tachyglossus aculeatus|
|Common Water Rat (Rakali)||Hydromys chrysogaster|
|House Mouse||Mus musculus|
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Saltwater Crocodile||Crocodylus porosus|
|Monitor Lizards (Varanidae)|
|Lace Monitor||Varanus varius|
|Common House Gecko||Hemidactylus frenatus|
|Mallee Dragon||Ctenophorus fordi|
|Painted Dragon||Ctenophorus pictus|
|Eastern Water Dragon||Intellagama lesueurii|
|Eastern Bearded Dragon||Pogona barbata|
|Central Bearded Dragon||Pogona vitticeps|
|Oriental Ctenotus||Ctenotus orientalis|
|Eastern Water-skink||Eulamprus quoyii|
|Shingleback Lizard||Tiliqua rugosa|
|Ragged Snake-eyed Skink||Cryptoblepharus pannosus|
|Red-throated Rainbow-skink||Carlia rubrigularis|
|Pale-lipped Shadeskink||Saproscincus basiliscus|
|Colubrid Snakes (Colubridae)|
|Green Tree Snake||Dendrelaphis punctulatus|
|Elapid Snakes (Elapidae)|
|Eastern Brown Snake||Pseudonaja textilis|
|Freshwater Turtles (Cheluidae)|
|Macquarie (Murray) Turtle||Emydura macquarii macquarii|
|Austro-American Side-necked Turtles (Chelidae)|
|Eastern Saw-shelled Turtle||Myuchelys latisternum|
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Foam-nesting Ground Frogs (Limnodynastidae)|
|Giant Bullfrog (Giant Banjo Frog)||Limnodynastes interioris|
|Trilling Frog||Neobatrachus sudelli|
|True Toads (Bufonidae)|
|Cane Toad||Rhinella marina|
Notable Other Taxa List
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Christmas Jewel Spider||Austracantha minax|
|Huntsman Spiders (Sparassidae)|
|Grey Huntsman Spider||Holconia immanis|
|Swallowtails and Parnassians (Papilionidae)|
|Orchard Swallowtail||Papilio aegeus|
|Small Dingy Swallowtail||Papilio anactus|
|Lime Swallowtail||Papilio demoleus|
|Ulysses Butterfly||Papilio ulysses|
|Fuscous Swallowtail||Papilio fuscus|
|Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)|
|Lesser Wanderer||Danaus petilia|
|Swamp Tiger Butterfly||Danaus affinis|
|Australian Painted Lady||Vanessa kershawi|
|Yellow Admiral||Vanessa itea|
|Common Brown||Heteronympha merope|
|Meadow Argus||Junonia villida|
|Great Eggfly||Hypolimnas bolina|
|(Australian) Common Crow Butterfly||Euploea core corinna|
|Common Evening Brown||Melanitis leda|
|Blue Wanderer||Tirumala hamata|
|Orange Bushbrown||Mycalesis terminus|
|Whites, Yellows, and Sulphurs (Pieridae)|
|Caper White||Belonis java|
|Small White||Pieris rapae|
|Imperial Jezebel||Delias harpalyce|
|Black Jezebel||Delias nigrina|
|Common Grass Yellow||Eurema hecabe|
|Small Grass Yellow||Eurema smilax|
|Gossamer-winged Butterflies (Lycaenidae)|
|Saltbush Blue||Theclinesthes serpentata|
|Common Imperial Blue||Jalmenus evagoras|
|Small Green Banded Blue||Psychonotis caelius|
|Blue Skimmer||Orthetrum caledonicum|
|Slender Skimmer||Orthetrum sabina|
|Scarlet Percher||Diplacodes haematodes|
|Wandering Percher||Diplacodes bipunctata|
|Painted Grasshawk||Neurothemis stigmatizans|
|Zircon Flutterer||Rhyothemis princeps|
|Narrow-winged Damselflies (Coenagrionidae)|
|Australian Bluetail||Ischnura heterosticta|
|Spreadwings and Allies (Lestidae)|
|Wandering Ringtail||Austrolestes leda|
|Emerald Dragonflies (Corduliidae)|
|Tau Emerald||Hemicordulia tau|
|Bluestreaks and Rockmasters (Lestoideidae)|
|Common Bluestreak||Lestoidea conjuncta|
|Requiem Sharks (Carcharhinidae)|
|Blacktip Reef Shark||Carcharhinidae melanopterus|
|Sieve-patterned Moray||Gymnothorax cribroris|
|Small Giant Clam||Tridacna maxima|
|Large Flying Duck Orchid||Caleana major|
|Tiger Orchid||Diuris sulphurea|
|Eastern Mantis Orchid||Caladenia tentaculate|
|Thin Pencil Orchid||Dendrobium teretifolium|
DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT
This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.
GENERAL INFORMATION: AUSTRALIA
Your passport must be valid for a period of at least 6 months after the date of your arrival in Australia. Please make sure that there is at least one full empty page available in your passport. Please make sure that you also bring a photocopy of your passport, to be kept in a different location from your passport, in case of loss/damage.
A visa or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is required for everyone entering Australia, but different rules apply depending on your nationality, your status, or your personal history. Please check here and follow the instructions for “visit and tourism”. For most people, after completing the questions in the online form, the ETA Subclass 601 will be the result. This ETA can be applied for by downloading the new Australian ETA app, see here for more information. Some people may however need to apply for a different visa.
We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance to protect yourself against accidents, medical, illness, loss of valuables, luggage etc., and travel interruptions or delays of all kinds.
Please consult your doctor regarding any vaccine requirements. All travelers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters (e.g. tetanus). There is no risk of yellow fever transmission in Australia, however, there is a certificate requirement if travelers have visited/come from the following countries, see list here. Some travelers may require Hepatits B, Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies.
Suncream should be carried, and a hat should be worn to protect from the powerful rays from the sun, with sunglasses to help prevent glare. A plentiful supply of water should be carried at all times to maintain hydration.
Please make sure that you are covered with medical insurance in case of an emergency while on this trip. Without insurance the cost of medical care can be extremely high. Please notify us at the time of registering for this tour of any medical conditions you think we should know about (including allergies, heart conditions, epilepsy, etc.). This will greatly help us to cater to your needs and update emergency services if required.
Australian Dollar (currently weak against the GBP£ and US$). Visa & Mastercard are widely accepted, including for drawing cash from ATM’s (as everywhere, bank charges may apply). Note: US$/GBP£ cannot be used for purchases. We will be able to exchange or draw money at the airport upon our arrival and in the various cities we pass through.
Australian seasons are the reverse of the European/North American seasons, but the same of South America/Southern Africa. The summer months in Australia are from December to February and the autumn months are during March till May. Winter is from June to August with spring in from September till November.
Queensland and the Northern Territory are located closer to the tropics and generally have warmer and humid weather all year round. New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia and Perth all experience the four seasons during the year. In Tasmania, the weather is colder than the rest of Australia because it is closer to Antarctica (this can often be a result of the wind chilling the actual temperature).
During this tour a wide variation of weather (particularly temperatures) is to be expected. It may feel cool at night in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales, with night-time temperatures dropping to around 8oC/46oC. Day time temperatures during the tour can range from 15oC/59oF in Tasmania, to 30oC/86oF in northern Victoria, with similar temperatures in Northern Queensland, however here it is much more humid and rainfall is likely at some point here.
240V, three-pronged plugs used. Adaptors are needed for overseas appliances.
LENGTH OF DRIVES
There are a couple of days in which there are long drives, unfortunately this is a standard feature in this huge continent-country. Drives are broken up where possible with birding stops and stops for refreshments etc.
WHAT TO BRING: CLOTHING
This is not a fashion statement trip! Casual and informal dress is fine in the hotels/motels. Loose lightweight field clothing works best, with a warm fleece or jacket for cooler weather. Shorts and T-shirts are fine – it’s what the locals wear! You will also need to bring some warmer clothing, certainly a minimum of a warm fleece and a rain jacket. Rain is always a possibility in October/November, so an umbrella and or rain gear is always useful to have. Early mornings can feel a bit chilly in some areas so come prepared, especially in the south (Tasmania/Victoria) which can have the wind coming straight from Antarctica.
Sunglasses, sunhat and sunscreen (rated SPF 30 or higher) are essential. A pair of trousers or a long skirt, and a long-sleeved shirt should be included to help protect against forest vegetation and the sun. Swimwear can be brought as there are swimming pools at some of the hotels/motels, and we will have time in the Great Barrier Reef where optional swimming is possible.
We would recommend lightweight walking boots for when out on foot. You might like to consider sandals/trainers (tennis shoes) for use in the vehicles and for walking between your room and restaurant in the hotels and lodges.
WHAT TO BRING: OTHER ITEMS
Do not forget – Binoculars, prescription drugs (also bring the generic names for these drugs), toiletries, prescription glasses (and a spare pair), insect repellant, sunscreen and sunglasses, camera, flashlight, batteries (for electronic equipment and chargers for the re-chargeable batteries if required), converter plug set if needed and plug adaptors, alarm clock, money pouch, field guide(s), daypacks. Your guide will have a Swarovski Telescope, however if you have your own scope it is recommended that you bring it too.
Key Documents and Cash – Passports, your travel or health insurance cards – photocopies of which can be carried by the tour leader, in case of emergency, credit cards – see info above, US$, euro or GBP£ can be exchanged into Australian Dollars if you prefer not to simply draw from ATM’s, cash for drinks, gifts, tips, items of a personal nature etc. not included within the tour cost.
Due to restricted space in the vehicles, please pack as lightly as possible. A medium soft-sided duffle bag (not the hard sided cases) works best for packing in the vehicles. This allows us to better fit the bags. Please bring a daypack to keep items that you wish to use or need on a daily basis.
There are a great many poisonous creatures (and plants) in Australia and extreme caution should be taken whilst out and about (e.g. check your boots each time before you put them on, watch where you put your hands and feet, do not touch, or approach any wildlife (e.g. specifically snakes, spiders etc.)). It is advisable to familiarize yourself with these poisonous species prior to your tour (there is a range of data online but see here). Sturdy walking boots are essential to give feet and ankles added protection. It is essential that you follow your guide/leader’s advice and if you see any snakes etc. the information is passed on as quickly as possible so that everyone is aware of the potential danger.
Australia is generally a safe place to travel, however as anywhere in the world at this time it is advisable to take care and remain cautious and observant for the unexpected.
Australia is part of the British Commonwealth and English is widely spoken. Local Aboriginal peoples have a huge number of languages however it is unlikely that we will need to speak these on this tour.
Finding Australian Birds: A Field Guide to Birding Locations – Tim Dolby and Rohan Clarke (2014). CSIRO Publishing.
Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (Eighth Edition) – Ken Simpson and Nicolas Day (2010). Viking (NB Helm have now published an undated version of this book).
A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (Ninth Edition) – Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight (2012). Harper Collins.
The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds (Second Edition) – Slater et. al. (2012). New Holland.
Birds of Australia: A Photographic Guide – Campbell et al. (2014). Princeton University Press.
Several of the above publications are available to download as Apps for mobile phones. These apps also include bird sounds to complement the illustrations.
A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia (Third Edition) – Peter Menkhorst and Frank Knight (2011). Oxford University Press.
A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia (Fourth Edition) – Steve Wilson and Gerry Swan (2013). New Holland.
A wide-range of CDs with bird songs are available online or as Apps and are a recommended tool for learning bird calls. In addition it is possible to download bird calls from the excellent Xeno Canto website http://www.xeno-canto.org/.
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!
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.
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.