Birding Tour Australia: from the Outback to the Wet Tropics
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, October 2023
30 OCTOBER – 16 NOVEMBER 2023
By Andy Walker
DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT
This Eastern Australia birding tour started in Melbourne, Victoria on the 30th of October 2023 and ended in Cairns, Queensland on the 16th of November 2023. This Australian bird tour focused on Australian endemic birds and Australian endemic bird families found in Victoria (including a brief foray into New South Wales) and southern and northern Queensland.
Plains-wanderer was a big target on our Eastern Australia birding tour and proved a massive highlight, with three birds seen well. They formed part of an incredible evening birding session early in the tour, which was a tour highlight in its own right.
We recorded 379 bird species on this Australian birdwatching tour (three of these were heard only). The list of highlight birds seen is very long and included some of the best birds in Australia, including Southern Cassowary, Emu, Magpie Goose, Malleefowl, Spotted Nightjar, Tawny Frogmouth, Sarus Crane, Brolga, Red-chested Buttonquail, Banded Stilt, Plains-wanderer, Black-necked Stork, Great-billed Heron, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Grey Goshawk, Greater Sooty Owl, Lesser Sooty Owl, Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Red-backed Kingfisher, Laughing Kookaburra, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Cockatiel, Glossy Black Cockatoo, Gang-gang Cockatoo, Pink Cockatoo, Superb Parrot, Budgerigar, Noisy Pitta, Albert’s Lyrebird, Superb Lyrebird, Green Catbird, Golden Bowerbird, Regent Bowerbird, Lovely Fairywren, Mallee Emu-wren, Painted Honeyeater, Macleay’s Honeyeater, Rufous Bristlebird, Australian Logrunner, Pied Monarch, Apostlebird, Paradise Riflebird, Victoria’s Riflebird, Flame Robin, Red-capped Robin, Bassian Thrush, and Diamond Firetail.
In addition to the great birds seen, we also found a nice selection of other animals, including 40 species of mammals, featuring highly sought species such as Koala, Platypus, Red Kangaroo, and Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo, 23 species of reptiles including Saltwater Crocodile and Boyd’s Forest Dragon, and numerous gorgeous butterflies, moths, dragonflies, and plants. Lists of birds and other plants and wildlife recorded during this Australian bird tour follow the report.
Regent Bowerbird showed well while we were birding at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
Day 1, 30th October 2023. Arrival in Melbourne
We arrived in Melbourne, Victoria in the late afternoon after completing our successful Tasmania bird tour, (trip report here). We had a delicious group welcome meal in the evening, discussing the plans for the coming few weeks of birding in Victoria, New South Wales, and southern and northern Queensland, Australia. The excitement was building.
Day 2, 31st October 2023. Birding Melbourne to Healesville
We headed through the northern suburbs of Melbourne, making a brief stop at a parkland, where we got some of the common Australian birds under our belt, with species such as Rainbow Lorikeet, Eastern Rosella, Australian Magpie, Pied Currawong, Grey Currawong, Noisy Miner, Red Wattlebird, Little Raven, and Magpie-lark all seen well, it was a great introduction.
A pair of Rainbow Lorikeets were busy allopreening and allowed great views. A common but attractive bird in eastern areas of Australia and always a popular bird at the beginning of a tour.
Commencing our journey away from Melbourne city, we visited the beautiful Dandenong Ranges National Park, where we found our main target, the vocally magical Superb Lyrebird. While we were walking around the impressive and huge forest, we picked up many birds, including Crimson Rosella, Australian King Parrot, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Long-billed Corella, Australian Golden Whistler, Eastern Yellow Robin, Large-billed Scrubwren, White-browed Scrubwren, Grey Fantail, Eastern Spinebill, and White-throated Treecreeper.
After a wonderful lunch, we visited a wetland site, where we found Australasian Darter, Little Pied Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Australasian Grebe, Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Australasian Swamphen, Pacific Black Duck, Chestnut Teal, Grey Teal, Maned Duck, Masked Lapwing, Galah, Little Corella, Shining Bronze Cuckoo, Little Wattlebird, and a pair of White-winged Trillers. We then moved across to a sandy hillside, where we found six beautiful orchid species, including Large Flying Duck Orchid, Eastern Mantis Orchid, and Purple Beard Orchid. After enjoying these great plants (and a few White-winged Choughs), we continued our drive to our accommodation for the night in Healesville, picking up Black-shouldered Kite, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, and White-necked Heron along the way.
After a wonderful dinner at our lodge, featuring minor distractions from White-naped Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, and Eastern Spinebill, we went out for a rather enjoyable night walk. Top highlights from the walk included excellent looks at a Greater Sooty Owl, along with very good sightings of both Greater Glider and Yellow-bellied Glider. It had been some start to this Australian birding tour!
We enjoyed some excellent views of Greater Sooty Owl while out on a night walk.
Day 3, 1st November 2023. Healesville to Chiltern
After breakfast we birded around our accommodation at Healesville, enjoying sightings of Gang-gang Cockatoo, Australian King Parrot, Crimson Rosella, and Spotted Pardalote. We then drove up into Toolangi State Forest, where we found Flame Robin, Rose Robin, Red-browed Treecreeper, Satin Flycatcher, and more Gang-gang Cockatoos.
Several Gang-gang Cockatoos were present in a small woodland.
After warming ourselves up with a hot drink, we visited the wetlands near Yea, where we added plenty of new birds to our growing list. Some of the top highlights included Bell Miner, Striated Pardalote, Leaden Flycatcher, White-throated Gerygone, and Little Eagle. Driving north, we made our way to the Warby-Ovens National Park, a beautiful region. Here we had brief sightings of Turquoise Parrot, but also had great looks at Red-capped Robin, Hooded Robin, Leaden Flycatcher, Western Gerygone, Varied Sittella, Rufous Songlark, and Rufous Whistler.
Red-capped Robin was also added to our rapidly growing Australasian Robins family list.
As we explored the area further, we found Crested Pigeon, Galah, Eastern Rosella, Sacred Kingfisher, Laughing Kookaburra, White-winged Triller, nesting Restless Flycatchers, Willie Wagtail, Grey Fantail, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Whistling Kite, Brown Falcon, Nankeen Kestrel, Dusky Woodswallow, and Diamond Firetail.
Day 4, 2nd November 2023. Chiltern to Deniliquin
A very long day, but one of the most enjoyable of the whole tour. We spent the morning birding around Chiltern-Mt. Pilot National Park and Warby-Ovens National Park, and the birding was great. We had excellent views of Painted Buttonquail, Pallid Cuckoo, Sacred Kingfisher, Red-rumped Parrot, Olive-backed Oriole, White-throated Treecreeper, Brown Treecreeper, White-winged Chough, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Fuscous Honeyeater, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Speckled Warbler, Jacky Winter, and Rufous Songlark. We also spotted Eastern Grey Kangaroo and Swamp Wallaby.
An attractive Yellow-tufted Honeyeater from Chiltern-Mt. Pilot National Park.
After lunch we took a look at the mighty Murray River, here we found Nankeen Night Heron, Whistling Kite, Crimson (Yellow) Rosella, Noisy Friarbird, and Little Friarbird. We then completed our drive from Victoria to Deniliquin, New South Wales.
Our late afternoon and evening birding was simply sensational. We stopped at some bushland that was featuring lots of flowering plants, just north of Deniliquin, where we found Australian Owlet-nightjar, Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, Rainbow Bee-eater, Greater Bluebonnet, Black Honeyeater, Singing Honeyeater, Striped Honeyeater, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Pied Butcherbird, Australian Raven, and Mistletoebird. Driving north we picked up our first family group of Emus and shortly after had close perched views of a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles, with other species seen including Black-tailed Nativehen, Australian Crake, Red-kneed Dotterel, White-winged Fairywren, Singing (Horsfield’s) Bush Lark, Fairy Martin, Brown Songlark, and Australian Pipit.
After our picnic dinner it was time for the main event, our night birding around a section of the Hay Plains, and it was amazingly successful. During almost three hours of spotlighting, we found 17 species of birds and ten species of mammals. The highlight birds were three Plains-wanderers (one female and two males), the main target of our night trip which showed very well (see the trip report cover image). The supporting cast was rather special too, and featured Red-chested Buttonquail, Little Buttonquail, Stubble Quail, Banded Lapwing, Tawny Frogmouth, Australian Owlet-nightjar, Eastern Barn Owl, Australian Boobook, Brown Songlark, and Singing (Horsfield’s) Bush Lark. Mammal highlights included Red Kangaroo, Western Grey Kangaroo, Fat-tailed Dunnart, and Common Brushtail Possum.
A massive bonus bird during our spotlighting session was this gorgeous adult female Red-chested Buttonquail.
Day 5, 3rd November 2023. Deniliquin to Ouyen
After our late-night birding session the previous day, we made a later start today. After a relaxed breakfast in Deniliquin we birded near town, finding a number of parrots, including our main target for the morning, Superb Parrot. We also enjoyed sightings of Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Little Corella, Long-billed Corella, Galah, Crimson (Yellow) Rosella, Eastern Rosella, Red-rumped Parrot, and Rainbow Lorikeet. Other birds here included Noisy Friarbird, Little Friarbird, White-plumed Honeyeater, Brown Treecreeper, and Sacred Kingfisher.
A wetland near the town of Kerang was absolutely heaving with birds and was a special sight to see. We added loads of new birds to our list, including some good ones. Highlights here were Australian Pelican, Black Swan, Australian Shelduck, Pink-eared Duck, Hardhead, Hoary-headed Grebe, Great Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, White-necked Heron, Great Egret, Royal Spoonbill, Banded Stilt, Pied Stilt, Red-necked Avocet, Black-tailed Nativehen, and Whiskered Tern (along with lots more). A few small passerines were noted along the edge of the wetland, such as White-winged Fairywren and White-fronted Chat.
We continued our journey to Ouyen, where we arrived in the evening. Along the way we spotted Cockatiel, Budgerigar, Greater Bluebonnet, Spotted Harrier, White-browed Woodswallow, Masked Woodswallow, Black-faced Woodswallow, Southern Whiteface, Rufous Fieldwren, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, and Australian Raven.
Day 6, 4th November 2023. Birding Hattah-Kulkyne National Park
We had an early morning birding session near Ouyen, where we found a beautiful pair of Rainbow Bee-eaters looking glorious in the morning light. We also found our first Purple-backed Fairywrens and White-browed Babblers of the tour here. Brown Goshawk, Fairy Martin, White-browed Woodswallow, and Masked Woodswallow were overhead. Nearby, a Peregrine Falcon was perched up on a building and showed well.
A pair of Rainbow Bee-eaters showed well in the glorious early morning sunlight.
After breakfast we spent the rest of the day birding in the mallee habitats of Hattah-Kulkyne National Park and connected with a range of specialized and localized species with the highlights including Malleefowl and Mallee Emu-wren. There were plenty of other good birds picked up across the day, such as Emu, Regent Parrot, Mulga Parrot, Australian Ringneck, Budgerigar, Splendid Fairywren, White-eared Honeyeater, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Shy Heathwren, Inland Thornbill, Crested Bellbird, Gilbert’s Whistler, Australian Raven, Apostlebird, Southern Scrub Robin, and Chestnut-crowned Babbler.
After an early dinner we took a short drive from our accommodation and had the most incredible views of a pair of Pink Cockatoos, (formerly and until recently known as Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo). They dropped out of a tree and drank from a puddle at the side of the road a mere few meters in front of us, displaying their fantastic colorful crests! After the excitement of the cockatoo, we moved to a waterhole where, after a beautiful sunset, we found our main target, a Spotted Nightjar and then a Marble-faced Delma (an uncommon legless lizard). It had been another great day of birding in Australia.
The views of Pink Cockatoo were simply incredible. What a stunning bird.
Day 7, 5th November 2023. Ouyen to Inglewood
We left Ouyen in the early morning but didn’t get far from our accommodation before we made a stop to enjoy a pair of Fairy Martins sat on a phone wire. A couple of minutes later we found ourselves watching a pair of Pink Cockatoos, possibly the same pair we saw the previous evening. Further prolonged views of this most attractive of cockatoos were enjoyed by everyone. As we left Ouyen we found two more of our regional targets, firstly Red-backed Kingfisher and secondly White-backed Swallow. Both showed well, but the kingfisher was extra showy, perching close to us.
We moved down to the Sea Lake area, where, after breakfast, we visited an attractive pink lake. Here we enjoyed sightings of Rufous Fieldwren, White-winged Fairywren, Brown Falcon, Little Eagle, and Orange Chat.
In the late morning we made the majority of our drive to Inglewood, our base for the night. We stopped at Mount Korong where we saw Spotted Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Painted Honeyeater, and several Diamond Firetails and many other birds. Closer to Inglewood we found a waterhole that was, for a while, heaving with honeyeaters. We found White-fronted Honeyeater, White-eared Honeyeater, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, and Brown-headed Honeyeater. However, the activity was suddenly curtailed by an unseen raptor that flew through the area. We moved on to a different patch of bush, where we saw Western Whistler, Gilbert’s Whistler, Purple-backed Fairywren, Inland Thornbill, and Collared Sparrowhawk.
Diamond Firetail is an attractive finch and we had good views of several birds coming to drink at a waterhole.
Day 8, 6th November 2023. Inglewood to Airey’s Inlet
We left Inglewood in the early morning and made our way to a nearby seasonally flooded swamp. We spent a couple of hours scanning the area, finding several new birds and improving views of several others, including Red-kneed Dotterel, Black-fronted Dotterel, Masked Lapwing, Black-tailed Nativehen, Royal Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Australian Shelduck, Australasian Grebe, White-necked Heron, White-bellied Sea Eagle, White-breasted Woodswallow, and Rufous Songlark. We even had a great view of a Yellow-footed Antechinus out in the open.
After the wetland birding and breakfast we visited a couple of different blocks of forest, finding Brown Goshawk, Crimson Rosella, Eastern Rosella, Eastern Spinebill, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Fuscous Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, White-browed Babbler, Black-faced Cuckooshrike, Grey Shrikethrush, Olive-backed Oriole, Masked Woodswallow, White-browed Woodswallow, White-winged Chough, Spotted Pardalote, Weebill, Striated Thornbill, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Varied Sittella, Mistletoebird, and Scarlet Robin.
Scarlet Robin gave us some good views.
After lunch we made the journey down to Airey’s Inlet. We stopped at the town of Lara along the way, where we had a great birding session. Top sightings here included Cape Barren Goose, Latham’s Snipe, Australian Crake, Australasian Swamphen, Royal Spoonbill, Musk Lorikeet, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Little Grassbird, Australian Reed Warbler, Golden-headed Cisticola, European Goldfinch, European Greenfinch, and Eurasian Tree Sparrow.
Day 9, 7th November 2023. Airey’s Inlet to Melbourne
The final day of our Victoria birding circuit (which included a brief foray into New South Wales), saw us start the day with some birding at Airey’s Inlet. We found our target Rufous Bristlebird, with several birds seen briefly at first, with lots of song, but then a pair of birds showed well in the scrub. A few Australian Gannets were noted offshore here. Because everyone on this tour had taken part in our Tasmania bird tour immediately prior to this tour, we opted to skip our usual other birding sites and target birds in the area as several of the usual target birds had already been seen well on the Tasmania tour. This decision allowed us to spend some extra time in the wonderful and bird-filled Werribee Western Treatment Plant (WTP).
Birding at Werribee WTP was excellent and we recorded over 85 species across a few hours at the site. The list of highlights is long (see the eBird list here), and included Brolga, Cape Barren Goose, Musk Duck, Blue-billed Duck, Pink-eared Duck, Australasian Shoveler, Australian Crake, Baillon’s Crake, Buff-banded Rail, Banded Stilt, Red-capped Plover, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Pied Cormorant, Royal Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Australian Pelican, Great Crested Grebe, Hoary-headed Grebe, Australasian Grebe, Whiskered Tern, Swamp Harrier, White-fronted Chat, Golden-headed Cisticola, Australian Reed Warbler, Little Grassbird, Brown Songlark, and Fairy Martin. Wildfowl and shorebirds were present in the thousands, and it was a seriously impressive sight. We could have easily spent a week going around the site!
After our birding at Werribee WTP, we said farewell to our local guide, Simon, who had once again given us some once-in-a-lifetime birding memories and a fun trip.
Rufous Bristlebird was skulking in the undergrowth but came out a couple of times for some quick photos.
Day 10, 8th November 2023. Melbourne to Brisbane, Brisbane birding and travel to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
We departed Melbourne for our flight to Brisbane in southern Queensland. Everything went smoothly and we arrived in the late morning. After collecting our vehicle, we took a short drive to the beach, where we had a picnic lunch and found the localized duo of Mangrove Honeyeater and Mangrove Gerygone. Our next stop was just to the south of Brisbane, where we found one of the top mammalian targets of the tour, Koala. We found two of them, a male and a female and got some nice views of these very special animals. To add to the exciting experience here, we also found a pair of Tawny Frogmouths at their nest, complete with two young nestlings. Around Brisbane we picked up several other birds, such as Channel-billed Cuckoo, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Brown Cuckoo Dove, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Torresian Crow, Grey Butcherbird, and more.
We left the city behind to commence our drive up into the mountains for our stay at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. Along the way, we made a brief stop to look at a roost of Grey-headed Flying Foxes and Little Black Flying Foxes. As we made the final ascent up the mountain we spotted a pair of Glossy Black Cockatoos, Wonga Pigeon, Red-necked Wallaby and Whiptail Wallaby. As we checked in to our accommodation, we were distracted by the magical sight of four Regent Bowerbirds (see photo in the trip report summary) sitting right in front of us. Add in the Australian King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas all around us and it was a pretty impressive welcoming committee!
Day 11, 9th November 2023. Birding at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
We had a sensational day of birding at O’Reilly’s in Lamington National Park. We had an early start to maximize our time here and were handsomely rewarded. The first bird we saw in the morning was the highly localized Albert’s Lyrebird. It was a brief sighting of a shy bird, so we were left wanting a bit more. We moved to our next spot, where we had some really good views of several White-headed Pigeons, along with Eastern Yellow Robin and Australian Brushturkey. Both Regent Bowerbird and Satin Bowerbird were seen very well, as were Australian King Parrot and Crimson Rosella.
Satin Bowerbird is easily found at O’Reilly’s Rainforest retreat and looks gorgeous in the correct light.
Entering the forest, we focused on the lyrebird and enjoyed a remarkable sighting of a pair of Albert’s Lyrebirds. The female gave some prolonged views as she foraged on the ground, then the male of the pair walked in, before it bounced up and flew high into a tree, where it continued to forage in a bird’s-nest fern, a remarkable and rarely seen behavior. After the lyrebird, which we watched for quite a while, we then also saw a pair of Noisy Pittas. As we walked to the restaurant for breakfast, we noted Wedge-tailed Eagle, Topknot Pigeon, Pied Currawong, Scarlet Myzomela, Eastern Spinebill, and Red-browed Finch.
After breakfast we took a forest walk where we concentrated on good views of the local birds, and these included common birds like Grey Shrikethrush, White-browed Scrubwren, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Large-billed Scrubwren, Brown Gerygone, Brown Thornbill, Australian Golden Whistler, and Eastern Yellow Robin. Highlights during this birding session included excellent sightings of Paradise Riflebird (a male giving prolonged views), Eastern Whipbird, Rufous Fantail, Black-faced Monarch, Australian Logrunner, Green Catbird, and Bassian Thrush, not to mention the parrots and bowerbirds also enjoyed all morning! We found a giant Land Mullet (a very large skink) and just before lunch we saw our first Bush Stone-curlew of the tour.
With patience, it is possible to get great views of the interesting Australian Logrunner in the forest at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
After a bit of a break in the early afternoon we headed back out onto the trails at O’Reilly’s for a brief walk. Again, we enjoyed many of the common birds of the area, but also spent time watching a female Paradise Riflebird and several Green Catbirds foraging in the tall rainforest trees. A Wonga Pigeon was walking around on a lawn, and we again had sightings of Albert’s Lyrebird. After another wonderful dinner at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, we took a walk back to our accommodation, finding Short-eared Brushtail Possum, Common Ringtail Possum, Red-legged Pademelon, and a roosting Russet-tailed Thrush!
Day 12, 10th November 2023. Birding at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, travel to Brisbane then flight to Cairns.
We woke to a damp morning and were instantly grateful for the beautiful day we’d had yesterday, along with all of those great birds. As usual at O’Reilly’s, the great birds are never too far away, and right outside our rooms this morning we found several male Regent Bowerbirds, Satin Bowerbird, Australian King Parrot, Crimson Rosella, and best of all, a very showy male Paradise Riflebird. After a short walk, where we improved our views of Bassian Thrush, we had breakfast and reluctantly departed to Brisbane.
Paradise Riflebird gave some very close views at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
Once back in Brisbane we caught our flight to Cairns in Far North Queensland. A whole new set of birds was awaiting us and after checking into our beachside hotel we had a brief birding session on the famous Cairns Esplanade where we found Australian Swiftlet, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Australasian Figbird, Hornbill Friarbird, and Varied Honeyeater. The tidal state was not conducive for shorebirds, but there were three Black-fronted Dotterels and a pair of Masked Lapwings near our dinner restaurant.
Day 13, 11th November 2023. Great Barrier Reef trip and travel to Mission Beach
A walk along the Cairns Esplanade prior to our Great Barrier Reef boat trip gave us a few good birds, such as Pacific Golden Plover, Great Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper, and Australian Pelican along the beach, with Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Nankeen Night Heron, Peaceful Dove, Australasian Figbird, and Brown Goshawk all also recorded. There was also a gathering of several Bush Stone-curlews in a car park!
The reef trip was, as always, an enjoyable day with lots of interesting birds seen well, such as Bridled Tern, Sooty Tern, Greater Crested Tern, Lesser Crested Tern, Brown Booby, Brown Noddy, and more (many of these birds breeding on Michaelmas Cay). In addition to the great views of the seabirds, we also enjoyed sightings of Leatherback Turtle, and some spectacular reef fish. After getting back to Cairns in the mid-afternoon, we drove south to Mission Beach for the night and enjoyed a celebratory dinner together.
Day 14, 12th November 2023. Birding Mission Beach and Atherton Tablelands
Another enjoyable day seeing some of the top birds and wildlife found in Australia. We started the day in Mission Beach, where we quickly found a Southern Cassowary. It was a brief view of a male slowly crossing a road right in front of us before it just melted away into the forest. Incredible, and a sighting that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. After enjoying the Southern Cassowary sighting in Mission Beach, we picked up several other birds, such as White-throated Needletail, Bar-shouldered Dove, Pheasant Coucal, Brush Cuckoo, Bush Stone-curlew, Osprey, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Azure Kingfisher, Forest Kingfisher, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Brown-backed Honeyeater, Dusky Myzomela, Varied Triller, Fairy Gerygone, Olive-backed Sunbird, and an impressive nesting colony of the vociferous Metallic Starlings.
Yellow-spotted Honeyeater was heard and seen plenty of times during the day.
After leaving the coast in the middle of the morning, we stopped in at some rainforest, where we had sightings of Grey Goshawk, Spectacled Monarch, Pied Monarch, Victoria’s Riflebird (very briefly), Rufous Shrikethrush, Barred Cuckooshrike, Cryptic Honeyeater, and Pale-yellow Robin.
We enjoyed some lunch at Lake Eacham, and afterwards took a short walk through some more rainforest, where we saw Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Spotted Catbird (briefly), White-throated Treecreeper, Oriental Dollarbird, Grey-headed Robin, and Macleay’s Honeyeater.
The range-restricted Tooth-billed Bowerbird gave some good views at his bower.
After checking into our rainforest accommodation, we visited a quiet river, where we found another of the most-wanted animals in Australia, the Platypus. We enjoyed prolonged views as one foraged right in front of us. We saw quite a few interesting mammals here and back at our accommodation in the late-afternoon and evening, including Agile Wallaby, Red-necked Pademelon, Musky Rat Kangaroo, Yellow-footed Antechinus, Bush Rat, Long-nosed Bandicoot, Spectacled Flying Fox, and Sugar Glider.
Day 15, 13th November 2023. Birding the Atherton Tablelands
We spent the day birding in the Atherton Tablelands, visiting a few different sites and habitats. In the morning, around our accommodation, we found Victoria’s Riflebird, Spotted Catbird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Barred Cuckooshrike, White-bellied Cuckooshrike, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Brown Cuckoo Dove, Grey-headed Robin, Rufous Shrikethrush, and more.
After breakfast we moved across to the Curtain Fig Tree National Park where we marveled at the giant and impressive fig tree, complete with an attractive Boyd’s Forest Dragon and showy male Australian Golden Whistler. Nearby we found Brolga, Sarus Crane, Spotted Harrier, Black Kite, Whistling Kite, Black-shouldered Kite, and Brown Falcon. A real treat was a Feral Dog (Dingo) which came purposefully through our view before disappearing into some tall vegetation.
Our next stop was the wonderful Hasties Swamp where we were greeted by thousands of Plumed Whistling Ducks and the highly anticipated Magpie Goose. Seeing and hearing vast numbers of these birds is always a thrill. At the swamp, we also found Wandering Whistling Duck, Hardhead, Grey Teal, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Nankeen Night Heron, Sarus Crane, Brolga, Australian Pelican, Royal Spoonbill, Australasian Darter, Red-kneed Dotterel, Black-fronted Dotterel, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, and Forest Kingfisher.
Forest Kingfisher was glowing!
After lunch and a short break, we visited a small patch of rainforest, where, with a lot of searching, we found a family group of the tough-to-see, Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroos. Another mammalian Australian tour highlight, for sure. After our dinner we went on a night safari, looking for birds, reptiles, and mammals, and it was highly successful. During a visit to some rainforest, we saw Lesser Sooty Owl, Bush Stone-curlew, Striped Possum, Green Ringtail Possum, Common (Coppery) Brushtail Possum, Long-nosed Bandicoot, Giant White-tailed Rat, Red-legged Pademelon, Northern Leaf-tail Gecko, Boyd’s Forest Dragon, and Amethystine Python.
Day 16, 14th November 2023. Birding the Atherton Tablelands and Mareeba area
We started our day birding at Lake Eacham, getting the morning started with great views of Victoria’s Riflebird, Spotted Catbird, Superb Fruit Dove, Pacific Emerald Dove, Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Barred Cuckooshrike, and many more top-quality birds.
After breakfast we left Lake Eacham for Mount Hypipamee. A stop along the way gave us Tawny Grassbird, Golden-headed Cisticola, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, three huge Channel-billed Cuckoos, and the goliath Wedge-tailed Eagle at close range. On arrival at our next rainforest birding patch, we headed into the forest and staked out a Golden Bowerbird bower. We got brief views of an adult male, followed by a female, and then an immature male that gave brilliant prolonged and close views. Further exploration of the forest resulted in sightings of Amethystine Python, Bridled Honeyeater, Bower’s Shrikethrush, Mountain Thornbill, Atherton Scrubwren, Pied Monarch, Pale-yellow Robin, Pacific Baza, and Peregrine Falcon.
Victoria’s Riflebird was the second bird-of-paradise enjoyed on this Australian bird tour.
After lunch we came off the fertile Atherton Tablelands and down into the drier zone around the small town of Mareeba. We visited Granite Gorge, where we had excellent close looks at the rather cute Mareeba Rock Wallaby, but also found some good birds, with the highlights (of which there were many), including Great Bowerbird (meticulously attending to his bower), Squatter Pigeon, Pale-headed Rosella, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Green Oriole, Olive-backed Oriole, Yellow Honeyeater, Leaden Flycatcher, and more.
After checking into our accommodation on the edge of town, we birded at a site just outside Mareeba, where we added a few new species to our list, such as displaying Australian Bustards, Australian Hobby, Red-backed Fairywren, and Blue-winged Kookaburra.
Day 17, 15th November 2023. Birding from Mareeba to the Mount Lewis area, Daintree River dusk boat trip, and travel to Cairns
We spent the morning birding in the dry habitats near Mareeba, where we saw Red-winged Parrot, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Lemon-bellied Flyrobin, White-throated Honeyeater, Yellow Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, Brush Cuckoo, Sacred Kingfisher, and Blue-winged Kookaburra. An area of swamp was full of birds, including the giant Black-necked Stork and Brolga, along with Radjah Shelduck, Red-kneed Dotterel, and lots more, including numerous Black Kites and Whistling Kites.
We followed up the dry country birding with some time in mixed eucalyptus and rainforest (which was also actually quite dry this year), where we found Lovely Fairywren, Northern Fantail, Rufous Fantail, Superb Fruit Dove, Pale-yellow Robin, and Yellow-breasted Boatbill.
A pair of Lovely Fairywrens were enjoyed on our final full day of birding on this Australian bird tour, this male showed very well.
In the afternoon, we had a final couple of rainforest patches to check, and we were successful in finding a pair of Papuan Frogmouths and then the spectacular Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, the latter a fresh arrival from New Guinea and staking a claim to his summer breeding territory.
The final birding of the day was on the Daintree River, where we enjoyed a dusk boat cruise, adding several new species for the tour, and improving views and photos of others, including Spotted Whistling Duck, Radjah Shelduck, Papuan Frogmouth, Great-billed Heron, Black Bittern, Azure Kingfisher, Brahminy Kite, Pacific Koel, Green Oriole, Shining Flycatcher, Wompoo Fruit Dove (on a nest), and plenty more. Additional highlights included Green Tree Snake and Saltwater Crocodile sightings.
After enjoying our Daintree River boat trip, we drove back to Cairns for the final night of the tour. During our drive back to Cairns we discussed possible “bird of the trip” candidates, and it was very hard to pick a top bird given all the high-quality birds we’d seen over the previous weeks. Some of the favorites included (in no particular order!); Pink Cockatoo, Red-backed Fairywren, Southern Cassowary, Plains-wanderer, Golden Bowerbird, and Red-chested Buttonquail.
Day 18, 16th November 2023. Birding Cairns Esplanade and tour concluded with departure from Cairns
We had a final breakfast in Cairns and said goodbye to Steve, who had been an excellent and incredibly knowledgeable local guide during our time in Queensland. We had a final, short birding session along Cairns Esplanade as the tidal situation was perfect. Numbers of shorebirds were lower than is often the case at this time of year, but we added several new species for the tour, including Pacific Reef Heron, Australian Tern, Caspian Tern, Far Eastern Curlew, Eurasian Whimbrel, and Grey-tailed Tattler. We also gained some very close views of other species seen previously, such as Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Pied Stilt, Black-fronted Dotterel, Silver Gull, and Little Tern.
With our final birding session complete it was time for saying goodbye. It had been an incredibly fun tour, with lots of laughs along the way, as well as been packed full of some of the best birds of Australia and some of the most wanted mammals on the continent. A huge thank you to everyone for making this such a fantastic tour, I look forward to traveling with you all again soon. Trip lists for birds, other wildlife, and interesting plants follow.
Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher was a final highlight of the rainforest element of this Australian birding tour.
Bird List – Following IOC (13.2)
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: 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 arcuate|
|Cape Barren Goose||Cereopsis novaehollandiae|
|Black Swan||Cygnus atratus|
|Radjah Shelduck||Radjah radjah|
|Australian Shelduck||Tadorna tadornoides|
|Pink-eared Duck||Malacorhynchus membranaceus|
|Maned Duck||Chenonetta jubata|
|Australasian Shoveler||Spatula rhynchotis|
|Pacific Black Duck||Anas superciliosa|
|Grey Teal||Anas gracilis|
|Chestnut Teal||Anas castanea|
|Blue-billed Duck||Oxyura australis|
|Musk Duck||Biziura lobata|
|Australian Brushturkey||Alectura lathami|
|Malleefowl – VU||Leipoa ocellata|
|Orange-footed Scrubfowl||Megapodius reinwardt|
|Helmeted Guineafowl||Numida meleagris|
|Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)|
|Brown Quail (H)||Synoicus ypsilophorus|
|Stubble Quail||Coturnix pectoralis|
|Spotted Nightjar||Eurostopodus argus|
|Papuan Frogmouth||Podargus papuensis|
|Tawny Frogmouth||Podargus strigoides|
|Australian Owlet-nightjar||Aegotheles cristatus|
|Australian Swiftlet||Aerodramus terraereginae|
|White-throated Needletail||Hirundapus caudacutus|
|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|
|Brush Bronzewing||Phaps elegans|
|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 (H)||Ptilinopus regina|
|Torresian Imperial Pigeon||Ducula spilorrhoa|
|Topknot Pigeon||Lopholaimus antarcticus|
|Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)|
|Buff-banded Rail||Hypotaenidia philippensis|
|Australian Crake||Porzana fluminea|
|Black-tailed Nativehen||Tribonyx ventralis|
|Dusky Moorhen||Gallinula tenebrosa|
|Eurasian Coot||Fulica atra|
|Australasian Swamphen||Porphyrio melanotus|
|Baillon’s Crake||Zapornia pusilla|
|Spotless Crake||Zapornia tabuensis|
|Sarus Crane – VU||Antigone Antigone|
|Australasian Grebe||Tachybaptus novaehollandiae|
|Hoary-headed Grebe||Poliocephalus poliocephalus|
|Great Crested Grebe||Podiceps cristatus|
|Painted Buttonquail||Turnix varius|
|Red-chested Buttonquail||Turnix pyrrhothorax|
|Little Buttonquail||Turnix velox|
|Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)|
|Bush Stone-curlew||Burhinus grallarius|
|Pied Oystercatcher||Haematopus longirostris|
|Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)|
|Pied Stilt||Himantopus leucocephalus|
|Banded Stilt||Cladorhynchus leucocephalus|
|Red-necked Avocet||Recurvirostra novaehollandiae|
|Banded Lapwing||Vanellus tricolor|
|Masked Lapwing||Vanellus miles|
|Red-kneed Dotterel||Erythrogonys cinctus|
|Pacific Golden Plover||Pluvialis fulva|
|Red-capped Plover||Charadrius ruficapillus|
|Black-fronted Dotterel||Elseyornis melanops|
|Comb-crested Jacana||Irediparra gallinacea|
|Plains-wanderer – EN||Pedionomus torquatus|
|Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)|
|Eurasian Whimbrel||Numenius phaeopus|
|Far Eastern Curlew – EN||Numenius madagascariensis|
|Bar-tailed Godwit||Limosa lapponica|
|Black-tailed Godwit||Limosa limosa|
|Ruddy Turnstone||Arenaria interpres|
|Great Knot – EN||Calidris tenuirostris|
|Sharp-tailed Sandpiper – VU||Calidris acuminata|
|Curlew Sandpiper||Calidris ferruginea|
|Red-necked Stint||Calidris ruficollis|
|Latham’s Snipe||Gallinago hardwickii|
|Grey-tailed Tattler||Tringa brevipes|
|Marsh Sandpiper||Tringa stagnatilis|
|Common Greenshank||Tringa nebularia|
|Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)|
|Brown Noddy||Anous stolidus|
|Silver Gull||Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae|
|Australian Tern||Gelochelidon macrotarsa|
|Caspian Tern||Hydroprogne caspia|
|Greater Crested Tern||Thalasseus bergii|
|Lesser Crested Tern||Thalasseus bengalensis|
|Little Tern||Sternula albifrons|
|Common Tern||Sterna hirundo|
|Bridled Tern||Onychoprion anaethetus|
|Sooty Tern||Onychoprion fuscatus|
|Whiskered Tern||Chlidonias hybrida|
|Black-necked Stork||Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus|
|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|
|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|
|Glossy Ibis||Plegadis falcinellus|
|Royal Spoonbill||Platalea regia|
|Yellow-billed Spoonbill||Platalea flavipes|
|Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)|
|Black Bittern||Ixobrychus flavicollis|
|Nankeen Night Heron||Nycticorax caledonicus|
|Eastern Cattle Egret||Bubulcus coromandus|
|White-necked Heron||Ardea pacifica|
|Great-billed Heron||Ardea sumatrana|
|Great Egret||Ardea alba|
|Intermediate (Plumed) 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|
|Pacific Baza||Aviceda subcristata|
|Little Eagle||Hieraaetus morphnoides|
|Wedge-tailed Eagle||Aquila audax|
|Grey Goshawk||Accipiter novaehollandiae|
|Brown Goshawk||Accipiter fasciatus|
|Collared Sparrowhawk||Accipiter cirrocephalus|
|Swamp Harrier||Circus approximans|
|Spotted Harrier||Circus assimilis|
|Black Kite||Milvus migrans|
|Whistling Kite||Haliastur sphenurus|
|Brahminy Kite||Haliastur indus|
|White-bellied Sea Eagle||Icthyophaga leucogaster|
|Barn Owls (Tytonidae)|
|Greater Sooty Owl||Tyto tenebricosa|
|Lesser Sooty Owl||Tyto multipunctata|
|Eastern Barn Owl||Tyto javanica|
|Australian Boobook||Ninox boobook|
|Oriental Dollarbird||Eurystomus orientalis|
|Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher||Tanysiptera sylvia|
|Laughing Kookaburra||Dacelo novaeguineae|
|Blue-winged Kookaburra||Dacelo leachii|
|Forest Kingfisher||Todiramphus macleayii|
|Sacred Kingfisher||Todiramphus sanctus|
|Red-backed Kingfisher||Todiramphus pyrrhopygius|
|Azure Kingfisher||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|
|Glossy Black Cockatoo – VU||Calyptorhynchus lathami|
|Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo||Zanda funerea|
|Gang-gang Cockatoo – VU||Callocephalon fimbriatum|
|Pink Cockatoo||Cacatua 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|
|Pale-headed Rosella||Platycercus adscitus|
|Eastern Rosella||Platycercus eximius|
|Australian Ringneck||Barnardius zonarius|
|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||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)|
|Lovely Fairywren||Malurus amabilis|
|Purple-backed Fairywren||Malurus assimilis|
|Superb Fairywren||Malurus cyaneus|
|Splendid Fairywren||Malurus splendens|
|Red-backed Fairywren||Malurus melanocephalus|
|White-winged Fairywren||Malurus leucopterus|
|Mallee Emu-wren – EN||Stipiturus mallee|
|Eastern Spinebill||Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris|
|Orange Chat||Epthianura aurifrons|
|White-fronted Chat||Epthianura albifrons|
|Brown-backed Honeyeater||Ramsayornis modestus|
|Black Honeyeater||Sugomel nigrum|
|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||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|
|Black-chinned Honeyeater||Melithreptus gularis|
|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|
|Shy Heathwren||Hylacola cauta|
|Speckled Warbler||Pyrrholaemus sagittatus|
|Yellow-throated Scrubwren||Neosericornis citreogularis|
|Large-billed Scrubwren||Sericornis magnirostra|
|Atherton Scrubwren – VU||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 – VU||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 – VU||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|
|Yellow-breasted Boatbill||Machaerirhynchus flaviventer|
|Woodswallows, Butcherbirds & Allies (Artamidae)|
|White-breasted Woodswallow||Artamus leucorynchus|
|Masked Woodswallow||Artamus personatus|
|White-browed Woodswallow||Artamus superciliosus|
|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|
|White-winged Triller||Lalage tricolor|
|Varied Triller||Lalage leucomela|
|Varied Sittella||Daphoenositta chrysoptera|
|Australo-Papuan Bellbirds (Oreoicidae)|
|Crested Bellbird (H)||Oreoica gutturalis|
|Whistlers & Allies (Pachycephalidae)|
|Gilbert’s Whistler||Pachycephala inornata|
|Grey Whistler||Pachycephala simplex|
|Australian Golden Whistler||Pachycephala pectoralis|
|Western Whistler||Pachycephala fuliginosa|
|Rufous Whistler||Pachycephala rufiventris|
|Bower’s Shrikethrush – VU||Colluricincla boweri|
|Rufous Shrikethrush||Colluricincla rufogaster|
|Grey Shrikethrush||Colluricincla harmonica|
|Figbirds, Old World Orioles, Piopios (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|
|Pied Monarch||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 Raven||Corvus mellori|
|Australian Raven||Corvus coronoides|
|Australian Mudnesters (Corcoracidae)|
|White-winged Chough||Corcorax melanorhamphos|
|Paradise Riflebird||Ptiloris paradiseus|
|Victoria’s Riflebird – VU||Ptiloris victoriae|
|Australasian Robins (Petroicidae)|
|Pale-yellow Robin||Tregellasia capito|
|Eastern Yellow Robin||Eopsaltria australis|
|Hooded Robin||Melanodryas cucullata|
|Grey-headed Robin||Heteromyias cinereifrons|
|Southern Scrub Robin||Drymodes brunneopygia|
|Lemon-bellied Flyrobin||Microeca flavigaster|
|Jacky Winter||Microeca fascinans|
|Rose Robin||Petroica rosea|
|Flame Robin||Petroica phoenicea|
|Scarlet Robin||Petroica boodang|
|Red-capped Robin||Petroica goodenovii|
|Singing (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|
|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, Rhabdornises (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 (Sahul) Sunbird||Cinnyris jugularis|
|Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)|
|Eurasian Tree Sparrow||Passer montanus|
|House Sparrow||Passer domesticus|
|Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)|
|Diamond Firetail – VU||Stagonopleura guttata|
|Red-browed Finch||Neochmia temporalis|
|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||3|
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Domestic (Feral) Cat||Felis catus|
|Feral Dog (Dingo)||Canis familiaris dingo|
|Red Fox||Vulpes vulpes|
|Sambar (H)||Rusa unicolor|
|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|
|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|
|Whiptail Wallaby||Notamacropus parryi|
|Agile Wallaby||Notamacropus agilis|
|Red-necked Wallaby||Notamacropus rufogriseus|
|Western Grey Kangaroo||Macropus fuliginosus|
|Eastern Grey Kangaroo||Macropus giganteus|
|Red Kangaroo||Osphranter 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 (Common) Brushtail Possum||Trichosurus vulpecula vulpecula|
|Common (Coppery) Brushtail Possum||Trichosurus vulpecula johnstonii|
|Short-eared Brushtail Possum||Trichosurus caninus|
|Gliders, Trioks, and Allies (Petauridae)|
|Striped Possum||Dactylopsila trivirgata|
|Sugar Glider||Petaurus breviceps|
|Yellow-bellied Glider||Petaurus australis|
|Ringtail Possums (Pseudocheiridae)|
|Greater Glider||Petauroides volans|
|Common Ringtail Possum||Pseudocheirus peregrinus|
|Green Ringtail Possum||Pseudochirops archeri|
|Hares and Rabbits (Leporidae)|
|European Hare||Lepus europaeus|
|European Rabbit||Oryctolagus cuniculus|
|Long-nosed Bandicoot||Perameles nasuta|
|Old World Mice and Rats (Muridae)|
|White-tailed Giant Rat||Uromys caudimaculatus|
|Australian Swamp Rat||Rattus letreolus|
|Bush Rat||Rattus fuscipes|
|House (Black) Rat||Rattus rattus|
|House Mouse||Mus musculus|
|Wild Boar (Feral Pig)||Sus scrofa|
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Saltwater Crocodile||Crocodylus porosus|
|Monitor Lizards (Varanidae)|
|(Gould’s) Sand Goanna||Varanus gouldii|
|Australian Leaf-tailed, Thick-tailed, and Knob-tailed Geckos (Carphodactylidae)|
|Northern Leaf-tail Gecko||Saltuarius cornutus|
|Common House Gecko||Hemidactylus frenatus|
|Boyd’s Forest Dragon||Lophosaurus boydii|
|Mallee Dragon||Ctenophorus fordi|
|Eastern Bearded Dragon||Pogona barbata|
|Lined Earless Dragon||Tympanocryptis lineata|
|Pale-rumped Ctenotus||Ctenotus regius|
|Robust Ctenotus||Ctenotus robustus|
|(Eastern)Tree Skink||Egernia striolata|
|Shingleback Lizard||Tiliqua rugosa|
|Red-throated Rainbow-skink||Carlia rubrigularis|
|Land Mullet||Bellatorias major|
|Legless Geckos (Pygopodidae)|
|Marble-faced Delma||Delma australis|
|Colubrid Snakes (Colubridae)|
|Green Tree Snake||Dendrelaphis punctulatus|
|Elapid Snakes (Elapidae)|
|Eastern Brown Snake||Pseudonaja textilis|
|Mainland Island Snake (Tiger Snake)||Notechis scutatus|
|Amethystine (Australian Scrub) Python||Morelia amethistina|
|Freshwater Turtles (Cheluidae)|
|Macquarie (Murray) Turtle||Emydura macquarii macquarii|
|Austro-American Side-necked Turtles (Chelidae)|
|Eastern Saw-shelled Turtle||Myuchelys latisternum|
|Northern Snake-necked Turtle||Chelodina oblonga|
|Typical Sea Turtles (Cheloniidae)|
|Loggerhead Turtle||Caretta caretta|
Notable Other Taxa List
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Australasian Tree Frogs (Pelodryadidae)|
|Brown Tree Frog||Litoria ewingii|
|Green and Gold Frog||Litoria raniformis|
|True Toads (Bufonidae)|
|Cane Toad||Rhinella marina|
|Swallowtails and Parnassians (Papilionidae)|
|Cairns Birdwing||Ornithoptera euphorion|
|Orchard Swallowtail||Papilio Aegeus|
|Lime Swallowtail||Papilio demoleus|
|Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)|
|Australian Painted Lady||Vanessa kershawi|
|Common Brown||Heteronympha merope|
|Great Eggfly||Hypolimnas bolina|
|Yellow-eyed Plane||Neptis praslini|
|Whites, Yellows, and Sulphurs (Pieridae)|
|Caper White||Belonis java|
|Small White||Pieris rapae|
|Imperial Jezebel||Delias harpalyce|
|Spotted Jezebel||Delias aganippe|
|Common Grass Yellow||Eurema hecabe|
|Gossamer-winged Butterflies (Lycaenidae)|
|Saltbush Blue||Theclinesthes serpentata|
|Common Imperial Blue||Jalmenus evagoras|
|Blue Skimmer||Orthetrum caledonicum|
|Common Glider||Tramea loewii|
|Painted Grasshawk||Neurothemis stigmatizans|
|Graphic Flutterer||Rhyothemis graphiptera|
|Australian Emperor||Anax papuensis|
|Spreadwings and Allies (Lestidae)|
|Wandering Ringtail||Austrolestes leda|
|Emerald Dragonflies (Corduliidae)|
|Tau Emerald||Hemicordulia tau|
|Bluestreaks and Rockmasters (Lestoideidae)|
|Tropical Rockmaster||Diphlebia euphoeoides|
|Asian Weaver (Green) Ant||Oecophylla smaragdina|
|Small Giant Clam||Tridacna maxima|
|Large Flying Duck Orchid||Caleana major|
|Hornet (Tiger) Orchid||Diuris sulphurea|
|Eastern Mantis Orchid||Caladenia tentaculate|
|Spotted Sun-Orchid||Thelymitra ixioides|
|Red Beard Orchid||Calochilus paludosus|
|Purple Beard Orchid||Calochilus robertsonii|
|Thin Pencil Orchid||Dendrobium teretifolium|
|Fairy Aprons||Utricularia dichotoma|
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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 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.
This is the best tour I've been on in my many years of international birding! Excellent guides, good food, great accommodations! Andy was the best guide I have ever had. Knew the birds cold, was able to call them in for photo ops, great on keeping us on schedule and getting where we needed to be, when we needed to be there. Can't say enough good things about Andy.