Birding Tour Australia: Northern Territory - Top End Birding


Dates and Costs

 

17 – 25 September 2024

Price: AU$9,974 / $6,844 / £5,408 / €6,305 per person sharing (6-8 participants)

Single Supplement: AU$2,087 / $1,432 / £1,132 / €1,320

 

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.

 


Recommended Field Guide

(Please also read our blogs about recommended field guides for the seven continents here)


Tour Details

Duration: 9 days
Group Size: 6 – 8
Tour Start: Darwin, Northern Territory
Tour End: Darwin, Northern Territory


Price includes:

All accommodation (as described above from Day 1 through Day 8)
Meals (from lunch on Day 1 until lunch on Day 9)
Expert tour leader
National park/birdwatching reserve/protected areas entrance fees
Private transportation during the tour

Price excludes:

International or domestic flights to get to/from Darwin
Airport transfers
Any pre- or post-tour accommodation, meals, or birding/sightseeing/etc. excursions
Visa if required
Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts, laundry, internet access, phone calls, etc.
Any pre- or post-tour accommodation, meals, or birding/sightseeing/monument excursions
Soft/alcoholic drinks (drinking water is safe from the taps, please bring a refillable water bottle)
Personal travel insurance
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)

Download Itinerary

Australia: Northern Territory – Top End Birding
September 2024

 

Our Northern Territory – Top End Birding tour travels along a well-trodden path around the Top End of the Northern Territory in a loop starting and ending in the coastal city of Darwin, then moving across to Kakadu National Park (via the excellent Adelaide River and Mary River areas), and finally calling in to the township of Katherine, before returning north to Darwin. The tour focuses on the special and endemic birds of the region and is ideal for anyone who has never birded Australia before, or anyone who has only birded the east or west of the country as lots of exciting new birds will be on offer in this fantastically bird-rich area in the north of Australia.

Northern Australia birding toursThe exquisite Rainbow Pitta is one of our targets on this trip.

 

Darwin is one of the top birding cities in the world with numerous key species on offer right within the city and we will venture into botanic gardens, mangroves, beaches, and monsoon forest for a wide range of quality and specialist birds. Highlights possible around the city include Rainbow Pitta, Chestnut Rail, Beach Stone-curlew, White-breasted Whistler, Red-headed Myzomela, Arafura Fantail, Arafura Shrikethrush, Northern Rosella, Red-collared Lorikeet, Varied Lorikeet, Paperbark Flycatcher, Canary White-eye, Green-backed Gerygone, Mangrove Robin, Mangrove Fantail, Torresian Kingfisher, Rufous Owl, and Barking Owl.

Northern Australia birding toursBarking Owl can often be found roosting around Darwin.

 

Kakadu is famous for its ancient rock art, but this area also has some of the most incredible wetlands in the whole country and vast mixed flocks of waterfowl can be seen – it really is an impressive sight watching flocks of hundreds of Australasian Swamphens, Magpie Geese, Comb-crested Jacanas, and Pied Herons, with Sarus Crane, Brolga, and Black-necked Stork dotted around among them. Raptors are abundant in the area with top targets including Wedge-tailed Eagle, Red Goshawk, Pacific Baza, and Black-breasted Buzzard. Numerous localized species can be found here too such as Black-banded Fruit Dove, Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon, Partridge Pigeon, Mangrove Golden Whistler, Black-tailed Treecreeper, Sandstone Shrikethrush, Great Bowerbird, Cockatiel, and White-lined Honeyeater to name a few.

Northern Australia birding toursThe stunning and localized Mangrove Golden Whistler will be a target in the Top End.

 

The final stop of this tour will be the furthest south we venture, near the town of Katherine, where we will look for the spectacular Gouldian Finch, as well as a range of other equally impressive finches, likely to include Masked Finch, Long-tailed Finch, and Crimson Finch. Additional targets from this area include Hooded Parrot, Red-winged Parrot, Budgerigar, Red-backed Kingfisher, Northern Shriketit, and Varied Sittella. For a complete desert adventure, consider combining this tour with our Birding Tour Australia: Northern Territory – Alice Springs and Uluru Birding Tour in the south of the territory, for a range of local desert specials such as Spinifexbird, Spinifex Pigeon, Banded Whiteface, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, and much more!

For those wishing to explore Australia further, this tour (and the aforementioned Northern Territory – Alice Springs and Uluru Birding Tour) can be combined with our Birding Tour Western Australia: Southwest Australian Endemic Birds tour. We can also offer a range of custom tours, pelagic trips, photo tours, or target-species trips to this vast continent-country.

 

Itinerary (9 days/8 nights)

 

Day 1. Arrival in Darwin

After your late-morning arrival in Darwin you will make the short transfer to our city hotel. We will meet at the hotel for lunch prior to a late-afternoon birding session in the city. We are sure to get our lists off to a great start with a selection of common local birds and likely some of the regional specials such as Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Red-headed Myzomela, Paperbark Flycatcher, Red-collared Lorikeet, White-gaped Honeyeater, Blue-faced (“White-quilled”) Honeyeater, Rufous-banded Honeyeater, and Rose-crowned Fruit Dove. After our evening meal we will go through our checklist from the afternoon’s birding session (as we will do on every evening – as we do on all of our tours) and go through our plans for the next week or so of exciting birding, starting off with the plans for the following day’s city birding.

Overnight: Darwin

 

Day 2. Birding the Darwin environs

We will spend the full day birding around Darwin. Coastal habitats including tidal mudflats, mangroves, and coastal monsoon forest will be searched for the secretive Chestnut Rail. Further targets here will include Mangrove Gerygone, Canary White-eye, Shining Flycatcher, Broad-billed Flycatcher, Mangrove Fantail, Mangrove Robin, and White-breasted Whistler. Shorebirds here can include Beach Stone-curlew and Grey-tailed Tattler.

Northern Australia birding toursWe will hope to repeat the fantastic views of Chestnut Rail as we’ve had on previous tours.

 

Monsoon forest around the city offers a great many species, including one of the many standout targets of the trip, Rainbow Pitta. It is a magical sight to see this avian jewel hopping around on the forest floor. Here plenty of other birds are possible, such as Canary White-eye, Arafura Shrikethrush, and Arafura Fantail. We may even get lucky and find a roosting Large-tailed Nightjar. The Orange-footed Scrubfowl nest mounds here are breathtaking and certainly are impressive engineering feats to witness! We will look out for Varied Lorikeets, Red-collared Lorikeets, and Northern Rosellas here too, as well as an assortment of honeyeaters, trillers, and cuckooshrikes.

Our lunch will be taken at one of the many delightful locally owned coffeeshops where we are sure of some great food and excellent service. Once we have finished our lunch, we will be sure to head out birding again to make the most of our time in the city. One site that we will fit into our day’s birding is the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens. Here we can find some great birds and marvel at the incredible plants growing here – it’s hard to not dream of birding in Madagascar when walking through the baobab garden! Some of the species we hope to encounter during our time here include Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, Australian Figbird, Bush Stone-curlew, Rufous Owl, Barking Owl, Tawny Frogmouth, Azure Kingfisher, Double-barred Finch, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Northern Fantail, Red-headed Myzomela, and Brahminy Kite.

Overnight: Darwin

Northern Australia birding toursRed-headed Myzomela is an attractive small honeyeater and one we should enjoy seeing (along with many other species of this varied family) while in the Top End.

 

 Day 3. Darwin to Mary River Area

After a final early morning birding session around Darwin, we will commence our drive into the more remote areas in the east of our circuit. Along the way to the famed Kakadu National Park, there are several great birding areas and we will call in at some of these. One such spot is Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve. The wetland landscape of the Adelaide River floodplain is stunning and usually packed full with an assortment of wetland birds such as Comb-crested Jacana, Wandering Whistling Duck, Green Pygmy Goose, Pied Heron, Black-necked Stork, Brolga, Australasian Darter, White-necked Heron, Straw-necked Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, and Nankeen Night Heron (along with many more widespread species). Smaller passerines around the floodplain include the globally widespread, but in Australia very localized (and potentially warranting specific species status with a couple of other subspecies) Zitting Cisticola, along with Golden-headed Cisticola, Double-barred Finch, and Crimson Finch. The monsoon forest and forest edge along the floodplain here is also great for plenty of species as well, including Blue-winged Kookaburra, Forest Kingfisher, Pheasant Coucal, Arafura Fantail, Rainbow Pitta, Paperbark Flycatcher, Leaden Flycatcher, Lemon-bellied Flyrobin, Hooded Robin, Jacky Winter, Green-backed Gerygone, and Mangrove Golden Whistler.

We will spend the night at Mary River. Here we will look for the regional special Black-tailed Treecreeper, but other targets will include Bush Stone-curlew, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Mistletoebird, Rufous Whistler, White-throated Honeyeater, White-winged Triller, Torresian Crow, Red-collared Lorikeet, Helmeted Friarbird, Green Oriole, and we might even find Channel-billed Cuckoo – this is one of the most impressive cuckoos in the world!

Overnight: Mary River

Northern Australia birding toursAnother localized species that we will be looking for on this tour, Black-tailed Treecreeper.

 

Day 4. Mary River to Kakadu National Park

We will spend the early morning enjoying birds around the Mary River area. Our accommodation is set in grounds that attract a range of birds (Red-tailed Black Cockatoos are often feeding around our rooms) and we will likely explore areas from the previous afternoon for more of our targets such as Black-tailed Treecreeper, Mangrove Golden Whistler, Rufous-banded Honeyeater, and Varied Lorikeet.

Our route into Kakadu National Park takes us through great habitat and we will keep our eyes peeled for roadside Silver-backed Butcherbird, Northern Rosella, Black-breasted Buzzard, and Wedge-tailed Eagle. There are several excellent waterholes (known as billabongs here) and we will stop and check a few of them where we could find Magpie Goose, Wandering Whistling Duck, Radjah Shelduck, Hardhead, Australasian Swamphen, Brolga, Comb-crested Jacana, Australian Tern, Whiskered Tern, Australasian Darter, Australian Pelican, Pied Heron, and Black-necked Stork. Some of the above are often present in flocks of several hundred and offer a spectacular sight (and sound). We will also likely take a boat ride on one of the waterholes here, to get close to some spectacular wildlife.

Northern Australia birding toursThe tiny Pied Heron is sure to delight.

 

The afternoon will be spent birding within Kakadu National Park, making a start on the birds mentioned for Days 5-6 as we check-in for our three-night stay in the area.

Overnight: Kakadu National Park area

 

Days 5 – 6. Kakadu National Park

We will have two full days to explore this excellent, wildlife rich area, as well as the afternoon of Day 4 and morning of Day 7. There are several target birds on our radar here, many can be found among the impressive sandstone hills, either in the monsoon forest surrounding them in the case of Northern Rosella, Black-banded Fruit Dove, Rainbow Pitta, Forest Kingfisher, Northern Fantail, White-lined Honeyeater, Helmeted (Sandstone) Friarbird, Green Oriole, and Olive-backed Oriole, or actually in the hills themselves, such as Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon, Sandstone Shrikethrush, and Little Woodswallow. The area is often very busy with birds and we will likely see many other species as we bird our way around it.

Northern Australia birding toursIncredibly well camouflaged, we will certainly need to have our eyes peeled to locate the Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon.

 

Dry woodland areas in the vicinity are also home to Partridge Pigeon, Red-winged Parrot, Cockatiel, Galah, Great Bowerbird, Red-backed Fairywren, Buff-sided Robin, White-bellied Cuckooshrike, Pied Butcherbird, and Blue-winged Kookaburra among others.

While in the area we will also check out several waterholes and riverine systems that may offer us further chances of some of the waterbirds previously mentioned, or maybe something rare or different like a Great-billed Heron, Little Kingfisher, or Azure Kingfisher.

We will also make sure to visit some of the spectacular rock art, etched thousands of years ago by the indigenous people which offers a fantastic window into the human history of the region.

Overnights (two nights): Kakadu National Park area

Northern Australia birding toursWe will look for Cockatiel during our time in the Kakadu area.

 

Outback birding toursBlue-winged Kookaburra will be one of our target birds during the tour.

 

Day 7. Kakadu National Park to Katherine

We will bid a sad farewell to the Kakadu area after our final morning birding session. We will slowly drive southwest to the township of Pine Creek. Along the way we will look for Black-breasted Buzzard and other raptors, along with Red-backed Kingfisher, Northern Rosella, Red-winged Parrot, and Silver-backed Butcherbird.

On the way to our accommodation in Katherine, we will stop in the township of Pine Creek to find one of the area’s special birds, Hooded Parrot and we will spend some time locating this species. If time permits, we will make a start on the birds mentioned for Day 8.

Overnight: Katherine

 

Day 8. Birding the Katherine and Pine Creek areas

We will spend time birding in the bush in the vicinity of Katherine, where we will look for several target birds including a range of finches, with the beautiful Gouldian Finch being one of the most desired. Other gorgeous finches possible here include Masked Finch, Long-tailed Finch, Crimson Finch, Double-barred Finch, and Australian Zebra Finch. We also stand a good chance of seeing Hooded Parrots again and may even get lucky and find the highly nomadic Budgerigar. Other possibilities include Northern Shriketit, Northern Rosella, Varied Sittella, Bar-shouldered Dove, Peaceful Dove, Rainbow Bee-eater, Great Bowerbird, Rufous-throated Honeyeater, Silver-crowned Friarbird, and Black-faced Woodswallow.

Northern Australia birding toursThe tough Northern Shriketit, a recent split, will be a target during this tour.

 

Northern Australia birding toursThe gorgeous Hooded Parrot is a target during the second half of this tour.

 

 As we spend the day exploring other areas nearby, we will look out for several other species that we may have yet to see during the tour, such as Apostlebird, Australian Bustard, Black-fronted Dotterel, Red-kneed Dotterel, Fairy Martin, Grey-crowned Babbler, Diamond Dove, Common Bronzewing, and Spotted Harrier.

Overnight: Katherine

 

Day 9. Katherine to Darwin, where the tour concludes

After a final morning birding in the Pine Creek area targeting the species mentioned for Day 8 and potentially enjoying a final sighting of Gouldian Finch or Hooded Parrot, we will commence our journey north back to Darwin. The tour will conclude in the late afternoon in time for your evening flight home or onto one of our other Australian tours.

 

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. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.

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Northern Australia – Top End Birding Trip Report, September 2023

27 SEPTEMBER – 05 OCTOBER 2023

By Andrew Walker

DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT

Australia September 2023 birding

Rainbow Pitta gave excellent views during our Northern Territory birding tour of the Top End.­


Overview

This Australia birding tour started in Darwin, Northern Territory on the 27th of September 2023 and ended back there on the 5th of October 2023. This Northern Territory birding tour visited some of the best birding sites in the Top End region, and included birding at Lee Point, Buffalo Creek, George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, Mary River Wetlands, Kakadu National Park, Pine Creek, and Katherine.

Birding around the Top End of the Northern Territory resulted in many excellent birds, in fact we recorded 186 species during the tour (three of these were heard only).

Some of the highlight birds seen on this Top End bird tour included regional specials such as Rainbow Pitta (voted “bird of the trip”), Chestnut RailRadjah ShelduckOrange-footed ScrubfowlRufous OwlBlack-banded Fruit DoveChestnut-quilled Rock PigeonPartridge PigeonChestnut-backed ButtonquailBrolgaBlack-necked StorkPied HeronHooded ParrotNorthern RosellaRed-collared LorikeetVaried LorikeetCockatielBlue-winged KingfisherRed-backed KingfisherBlack-tailed TreecreeperGreat BowerbirdBar-breasted HoneyeaterWhite-lined HoneyeaterRed-headed MyzomelaArafura FantailArafura ShrikethrushSandstone ShrikethrushSilver-backed ButcherbirdNorthern ShriketitMangrove Golden WhistlerPaperbark FlycatcherBroad-billed FlycatcherBuff-sided RobinCanary White-eyeGreen-backed GerygoneMangrove GerygoneCrimson FinchMasked FinchLong-tailed Finch, and Gouldian Finch.

Australia September 2023 birding

One of the special birds of the Top End, Varied Lorikeet, glowing in the early morning sunlight.

In addition to the great special birds of the Northern Territory Top End, we also recorded a long list of some exciting wide-ranging Australian birds, such as EmuMagpie GoosePlumed Whistling DuckChannel-billed CuckooRose-crowned Fruit DoveRoyal SpoonbillBlack-breasted BuzzardPacific BazaWedge-tailed EagleGrey GoshawkForest KingfisherTorresian KingfisherAzure KingfisherRainbow Bee-eaterRed-tailed Black CockatooRed-winged ParrotRufous-banded HoneyeaterWhite-gaped HoneyeaterYellow-tinted HoneyeaterBanded HoneyeaterSilver-crowned FriarbirdBlue-faced HoneyeaterGrey-crowned BabblerBlack ButcherbirdVaried TrillerGreen OrioleNorthern FantailApostlebirdLemon-bellied Flyrobin, and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin.

Australia September 2023 birding

Rufous-banded Honeyeater was one of many species of honeyeater that gave us some great views during the tour.

In addition to the incredible birds, this Top End birding tour also proved great for crocodile sightings, with many huge Saltwater Crocodiles and several Freshwater Crocodiles seen from land and from our boat trip in the Mary River Wetlands. A few lizards were found too, with Gilbert’s Dragon being rather attractive. Highlight mammals seen included Agile Wallaby and Short-eared Rock Wallaby, with thousands of flying foxes seen most days.

Species lists for birds, mammals, and reptiles recorded during this Australian bird tour follow the daily account, below.

Furthermore, this tour visited some of the most beautiful landscapes in the whole of Australia, with impressive sunrises and sunsets casting an incredible light over them twice a day. Add in the magical, ancient rock art dating back several thousands of years at several sites visited, and it all combined to make for a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting tour of the Northern Territory.


Detailed Report

Day 1, 27th September 2023. Arrival in Darwin and birding at Lee Point

An arrival day in Darwin, Northern Territory. We spent an enjoyable couple of hours birding around the Lee Point Dam area near our hotel, and it was an excellent introduction to the birds of the region. Our nice and relaxing bird walk gave us our first sightings of many great birds, such as Orange-footed ScrubfowlRadjah ShelduckRed-collared LorikeetRed-winged ParrotRainbow Bee-eaterForest KingfisherBar-breasted HoneyeaterRufous-banded HoneyeaterWhite-gaped HoneyeaterNorthern FantailVaried TrillerPaperbark FlycatcherLeaden FlycatcherLemon-bellied FlyrobinMasked Finch, and Long-tailed Finch.

After our birding session, we had a welcome dinner together, catching up and discussing what we were hoping to see on this Australian birding tour of the Top End, Northern Territory.

Australia September 2023 birding

The attractive Bar-breasted Honeyeater was present in large numbers.


Day 2, 28th September 2023. Birding the Darwin area

We spent the day birding at various sites around Darwin, a wonderful city for birders to visit, with loads of great birds on offer. We started the day birding near our accommodation at Lee Point and during the day also birded at Buffalo Creek and a couple of other mangrove sites, George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, and the East Point area. The list of highlights was long, and we recorded a lot of birds across the day. Some of the best birds included Chestnut RailArafura FantailMangrove Golden WhistlerGrey (Brown) WhistlerCanary White-eyeBroad-billed FlycatcherShining FlycatcherMangrove GerygoneLarge-billed GerygoneRed-headed MyzomelaHelmeted FriarbirdBlue-faced HoneyeaterChannel-billed CuckooAzure KingfisherBlue-winged KookaburraTorresian KingfisherPacific Reef Heron, almost 20 species of shorebirds roosting, including Great KnotTerek Sandpiper, and Grey-tailed TattlerAustralian TernMagpie GooseRed-tailed Black CockatooRed-collared LorikeetRed-winged Parrot, and Osprey (catching a fish!).


Day 3, 29th September 2023. Darwin to Mary River area

We had a short pre-breakfast birding session near our accommodation in Darwin, where we picked up some more new species, as well as gaining more views of some we’d seen over the previous days. Some of these birds included Arafura ShrikethrushLong-tailed FinchChestnut-breasted MannikinForest KingfisherGreen-backed GerygoneGalahRed-tailed Black Cockatoo, and Pacific Emerald Dove.

Australia September 2023 birding

Long-tailed Finch gave us great close views.

After breakfast, we left Darwin behind until the end of the tour. We then drove east to Fogg Dam and along the way we found a pair of nest-building Pacific Baza. We spent the rest of the morning birding at Fogg Dam. Birding at Fogg Dam always turns up some interesting species. Today we found lots of birds in the wetland and forest, with some of the highlights including BrolgaBlack-necked StorkLittle CurlewAustralian PratincolePlumed Whistling DuckWhite-necked HeronWhite-faced HeronPied HeronGreat EgretIntermediate (Plumed) EgretLittle EgretEastern Cattle EgretRoyal SpoonbillGlossy IbisComb-crested JacanaMagpie GooseRadjah ShelduckWhite-bellied Sea EagleWhistling KiteBlack KiteGrey (Brown) WhistlerLemon-bellied Flyrobin, Arafura FantailGolden-headed CisticolaZitting CisticolaCrimson Finch, and Willie Wagtail.

After lunch with the temperature soaring, we continued our journey to Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge area. A fortuitous stop yielded a couple of Black-breasted Buzzards and a family group of Black-tailed Treecreepers along with Weebill, Australia’s smallest bird, and a hunting Brown Falcon not far away. Once we’d checked into our accommodation, we had a short walk before dusk, where we found the stunning Rainbow Pitta. One individual was hopping along the trail as soon as we hit some monsoon forest, and thereafter, they took to the trees, where they gave some fleeting but repeated views. We also noted Little Bronze CuckooVaried TrillerBlack-faced CuckooshrikeSpangled Drongo, and Mistletoebird during the walk.

Australia September 2023 birding

Rainbow Pitta teased us a little before giving some good views.


Day 4, 30th September 2023. Mary River to Kakadu National Park

We enjoyed an early morning boat trip in the Mary River Wetlands. The boat trip was an excellent way to observe a wide range of waterbirds and we also had close views of both Saltwater Crocodile and Freshwater Crocodile. During the boat trip, we saw the following birds: Radjah ShelduckPlumed Whistling DuckMagpie GoosePied HeronIntermediate (Plumed) EgretComb-crested JacanaGlossy IbisWhite-bellied Sea EagleBrown GoshawkCollared SparrowhawkBlue-winged KookaburraSacred KingfisherAzure KingfisherGreater CoucalPaperbark FlycatcherShining FlycatcherRufous-banded HoneyeaterLittle Bronze Cuckoo, and Brush Cuckoo.

After the Mary River birdwatching boat trip, we had a quick look in the rainforest near our accommodation, where we again saw Rainbow Pitta. We commenced our drive across to Kakadu National Park where we arrived for lunch and a siesta (the mercury was hitting 39oC). Along the way a quick stop at a billabong (waterbody) gave us the staggering sight of 173 Black-necked Storks.

In the late afternoon we visited the highly impressive Nourlangie Rock in Kakadu National Park. While we enjoyed looking at the ancient rock art, we also sought out a couple of the target birds of the region. After some effort, we located both Black-banded Fruit Dove and White-lined Honeyeater, and eventually we got great views of both.

Australia September 2023 birding

Black-banded Fruit Dove has a small global range and is restricted to the area around Kakadu National Park, and thus a top target. We got some good views of this one feeding.


Day 5, 1st October 2023. 
Birding Kakadu National Park

An early morning walk along a river in Kakadu National Park resulted in the sighting of almost 20 Saltwater Crocodiles lounging on the riverbanks, an impressive sight indeed. The avian highlight, however, was a pair of Rainbow Pittas that showed incredibly well (see trip report cover image!) and we watched this pair for quite a while, and it was evident they had a nest nearby. As we birded our way along the riverbank, we found a large flock of Varied Lorikeets that were feeding in a eucalyptus tree and nearby we also found Red-collared LorikeetLittle CorellaSulphur-crested CockatooRed-tailed Black CockatooPeregrine FalconWhite-bellied Sea EagleBrahminy KiteBlue-winged KookaburraForest KingfisherAzure Kingfisher, and some stunning Crimson Finches.

Australia September 2023 birding

The localized White-lined Honeyeater showed well.

A change of location had us walking around some beautiful rock outcrops, where we had an excellent sighting of a pair of White-lined Honeyeaters that gave great, close, and prolonged views. After a bit of a search, we found our main target, the range-restricted Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon, and we saw five birds at very close range. When we arrived back at our accommodation, we were greeted by the sight of a flock of nine Partridge Pigeons that showed well.

Australia September 2023 birding

Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon gave us very good views as they came down to the ground to drink.

In the late afternoon, we went to a gorgeous lookout to admire the sunset and ancient rock art and saw a few more good birds too! It was a great way to end the day.


Day 6, 2nd October 2023. Birding Kakadu National Park

We spent the morning walking around some more rocky outcrops, eventually finding our main target of the morning. We started off with sightings of several Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeons and several other birds we had seen the previous day, such as Rainbow Bee-eaterGreen Oriole, and Blue-winged Kookaburra. Walking around the rocks (which looked stunning in the early morning light), we found Short-eared Rock Wallaby, but still no sign of what we were really looking for! Pretty distractions abounded, such as Red-backed FairywrenCrimson FinchDouble-barred Finch, and Long-tailed Finch. Finally, we heard our main target – Sandstone Shrikethrush; however, there was no way to get to it, and it wouldn’t come to us. Very frustrating. One final bit of excitement here involved a white bird sat in a bare tree along the trail, not the usual Little CorellaSulphur-crested Cockatoo, or Torresian Imperial Pigeon that we had been seeing over the previous days, but rather a beautiful white-morph Grey Goshawk.

Australia September 2023 birding

The striking white plumage of a white-morph Grey Goshawk.

As the heat started to build again, we decided to change locations. This brought about the sight of a flock of 19 Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeons feeding out in the open on a lawn, an impressive sight indeed. As we commenced another walk around yet more beautiful landscapes, we again heard a Sandstone Shrikethrush; this time we were able to follow the sound and after a short look around some rocks, we were able to get some brief views. After a short wait, we gained several other gradually improving views of the bird as it came a bit closer, but it always remained a bit distant. Happy with our success, we made our way back to Jabiru to sit out the heat of the day (where Red-backed Fairywrens and Grey-crowned Babblers showed nicely).

In the afternoon, we explored a billabong (wetland) and got to watch an interesting mix of species. Little Corellas were numerous (and noisy), but we also had several majestic Red-tailed Black Cockatoos coming down to drink from various pools. Several species of ducks were present and included Plumed Whistling DuckRadjah ShelduckPacific Black DuckGrey Teal, and Green Pygmy GooseMagpie Geese were also present in big numbers, always nice to see. Numerous herons, egrets, and ibis were present and showing well, and we found our first Black-fronted Dotterels of the trip. Some interesting behavior was noted too, with several of the Little Corellas acting very aggressively to the Agile Wallabies that wanted to come and get a drink!


Day 7, 3rd October 2023. Kakadu National Park to Katherine

We spent the day driving out of Kakadu National Park across to Pine Creek, then south to the town of Katherine. We made multiple short stops along the way and each of these yielded something different from new birds, better views of previously seen birds, or some beautiful scenic views.

Our breakfast spot gave some of the group a sighting of the spectacular Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, and this was followed up by a walk to a river where we saw another huge Saltwater Crocodile, along with Green OrioleRufous Whistler, and Leaden Flycatcher. Another roadside stop gave us some great looks at a pair of Emu, the first of our trip. We watched them feeding and going about their business for as long as they would allow. Moving further towards the edge of Kakadu National Park, we made a few more stops, where we found Buff-sided RobinSilver-backed ButcherbirdNorthern FantailArafura FantailYellow-throated MinerBlack-breasted Buzzard (on a nest), Oriental DollarbirdBlue-winged Kookaburra, and plenty more.

Australia September 2023 birding

We found the secretive Buff-sided Robin along a densely vegetated stream.

We took a lunch break in Pine Creek, and a short while afterwards, we were getting super close views of several Hooded Parrots, including some gorgeous male birds. Here too we got to see an impressive Great Bowerbird bower, and even saw the male bird attend the bower – he also flashed his rather extravagant pink tuft of “hair”! A sprinkler in the police station garden was attracting all sorts of birds, including Silver-crowned FriarbirdLittle Friarbird, and Blue-faced Honeyeater.

Australia September 2023 birding

We had some good views of Hooded Parrots as they sought shelter in the heat of the day.

Continuing our journey south towards Katherine, we made a stop at some pools, where we sat and waited to see what would come in for a drink/wash. Finches were numerous and we saw Crimson FinchDouble-barred FinchLong-tailed FinchMasked Finch, and a single Gouldian Finch (a young bird). Several honeyeaters visited the pools too, and included Banded HoneyeaterRufous-throated Honeyeater, and Bar-breasted Honeyeater, amongst the more common and widespread species. A Brown Goshawk was hanging around and the birds were a little skittish, so we left the site and arrived in Katherine in time for a quick shower before a wonderful dinner.


Day 8, 4th October 2023. Birding Katherine area

We spent the day birding around Katherine and found several new birds for the trip. As we were driving to our first spot, we had a stream of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos flying over as they left their roost site and found a few small flocks of Cockatiels and Galahs. A small group of Apostlebirds were noted foraging along the side of a road too.

Once we arrived at our birding site, we started our walk, noting Black-tailed TreecreeperPied ButcherbirdBlack-faced WoodswallowYellow-tinted HoneyeaterBlack-chinned HoneyeaterBanded HoneyeaterJacky WinterCockatielVaried LorikeetLong-tailed FinchMasked FinchAustralian Hobby, and finally our main target, Northern Shriketit, formerly part of the Crested Shiriketit complex. The shriketit took some locating in the vast area of suitable habitat, but when we heard it, we were able to locate a pair of birds, which then gave some good views. Driving around Katherine just before lunch, we picked up a pair of Red-backed Kingfishers.

Australia September 2023 birding

We enjoyed watching a pair of Northern Shriketits near Katherine.

In the afternoon, we kicked around in some bush near Katherine, where, after a fair bit of effort, we were successful in locating both of our target species; Northern Rosella and Chestnut-backed Buttonquail. Satisfied with finding these species, we made our way back to the hotel to freshen up after another hot day.


Day 9, 5th October 2023. Katherine to Darwin and tour conclusion

The final day of the tour didn’t quite go as planned, as some very unseasonable heavy rain (probably the first rain in the area for many months) ruined our morning birding. We sat out the rain for a couple of hours, but there wasn’t really much we could do. We gained further (and final) looks at several attractive species, such as Long-tailed FinchCrimson FinchDouble-barred FinchMasked FinchLeaden FlycatcherPaperbark FlycatcherRufous WhistlerRed-collared LorikeetVaried LorikeetHooded Parrot, and Great Bowerbird.

Australia September 2023 birding

What a way to end the tour, with point-blank views of a young Rufous Owl in Darwin.

Driving back to Darwin, a quick stop at a wetland gave us Pied StiltWood SandpiperSharp-tailed SandpiperAustralian PratincoleBrolgaAustralian Tern, and Whiskered Tern as well as many other waterbirds. Our final birding of this Top End birdwatching tour involved a sighting of a young Rufous Owl. It was a great way to end what had been a fabulous tour.

Australia September 2023 birding

Kingfishers featured heavily on the tour, and the huge Blue-winged Kookaburra was recorded on most days, often given away by their raucous and far-carrying calls.

 

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)
Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae
Magpie Goose (Anseranatidae)
Magpie Goose Anseranas semipalmata
Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)
Plumed Whistling Duck Dendrocygna eytoni
Wandering Whistling Duck Dendrocygna arcuata
Radjah Shelduck Radjah radjah
Green Pygmy Goose Nettapus pulchellus
Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa
Grey Teal Anas gracilis
Megapodes (Megapodiidae)
Orange-footed Scrubfowl Megapodius reinwardt
Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)
Brown Quail Synoicus ypsilophorus
Cuckoos (Cuculidae)
Pheasant Coucal Centropus phasianinus
Pacific Koel Eudynamys orientalis
Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae
Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus
Brush Cuckoo Cacomantis variolosus
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)
Pacific Emerald Dove Chalcophaps longirostris
Common Bronzewing Phaps chalcoptera
Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes
Partridge Pigeon Geophaps smithii
Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon Petrophassa rufipennis
Peaceful Dove Geopelia placida
Bar-shouldered Dove Geopelia humeralis
Black-banded Fruit Dove Ptilinopus alligator
Rose-crowned Fruit Dove Ptilinopus regina
Torresian Imperial Pigeon Ducula spilorrhoa
Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)
Chestnut Rail Eulabeornis castaneoventris
Australasian Swamphen Porphyrio melanotus
Cranes (Gruidae)
Brolga Antigone rubicunda
Buttonquail (Turnicidae)
Chestnut-backed Buttonquail Turnix castanotus
Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)
Bush Stone-curlew Burhinus grallarius
Oystercatchers (Haematopodidae)
Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris
Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)
Pied Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus
Plovers (Charadriidae)
Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii
Siberian Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus
Black-fronted Dotterel Elseyornis melanops
Jacanas (Jacanidae)
Comb-crested Jacana Irediparra gallinacea
Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)
Eurasian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Little Curlew Numenius minutus
Far Eastern Curlew – EN Numenius madagascariensis
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Great Knot – EN Calidris tenuirostris
Red Knot Calidris canutus
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper – VU Calidris acuminata
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)
Australian Pratincole Stiltia isabella
Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)
Silver Gull Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae
Australian Tern Gelochelidon macrotarsa
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii
Little Tern Sternula albifrons
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
Storks (Ciconiidae)
Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus
Anhingas, Darters (Anhingidae)
Australasian Darter Anhinga novaehollandiae
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
Little Pied Cormorant Microcarbo melanoleucos
Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris
Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)
Australian White Ibis Threskiornis molucca
Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia
Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)
Nankeen Night Heron Nycticorax caledonicus
Striated Heron Butorides striata
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus
White-necked Heron Ardea pacifica
Great Egret Ardea alba
Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia
Pied Heron Egretta picata
White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra
Ospreys (Pandionidae)
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)
Black-breasted Buzzard Hamirostra melanosternon
Pacific Baza Aviceda subcristata
Wedge-tailed Eagle Aquila audax
Grey Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae
Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus
Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrocephalus
Black Kite Milvus migrans
Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus
Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus
White-bellied Sea Eagle Icthyophaga leucogaster
Owls (Strigidae)
Rufous Owl Ninox rufa
Rollers (Coraciidae)
Oriental Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)
Blue-winged Kookaburra Dacelo leachii
Forest Kingfisher Todiramphus macleayii
Torresian Kingfisher Todiramphus sordidus
Sacred Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus
Red-backed Kingfisher Todiramphus pyrrhopygius
Azure Kingfisher Ceyx azureus
Bee-eaters (Meropidae)
Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus
Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)
Australian Hobby Falco longipennis
Brown Falcon Falco berigora
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Cockatoos (Cacatuidae)
Cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus
Red-tailed Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii
Galah Eolophus roseicapilla
Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita
Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae)
Red-winged Parrot Aprosmictus erythropterus
Hooded Parrot Psephotellus dissimilis
Northern Rosella Platycercus venustus
Varied Lorikeet Psitteuteles versicolor
Red-collared Lorikeet Trichoglossus rubritorquis
Pittas (Pittidae)
Rainbow Pitta Pitta iris
Bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchidae)
Great Bowerbird Chlamydera nuchalis
Australasian Treecreepers (Climacteridae)
Black-tailed Treecreeper Climacteris melanurus
Australasian Wrens (Maluridae)
Red-backed Fairywren Malurus melanocephalus
Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)
Rufous-banded Honeyeater Conopophila albogularis
Rufous-throated Honeyeater Conopophila rufogularis
Bar-breasted Honeyeater Ramsayornis fasciatus
Dusky Myzomela Myzomela obscura
Red-headed Myzomela Myzomela erythrocephala
Little Friarbird Philemon citreogularis
Helmeted Friarbird Philemon buceroides
Silver-crowned Friarbird Philemon argenticeps
Brown Honeyeater Lichmera indistincta
Banded Honeyeater Cissomela pectoralis
Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis
Black-chinned Honeyeater (H) Melithreptus gularis
White-throated Honeyeater Melithreptus albogularis
White-gaped Honeyeater Stomiopera unicolor
White-lined Honeyeater Territornis albilineata
Yellow-tinted Honeyeater Ptilotula flavescens
Yellow-throated Miner Manorina flavigula
Pardalotes (Pardalotidae)
Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus
Australasian Warblers (Acanthizidae)
Weebill Smicrornis brevirostris
Mangrove Gerygone Gerygone levigaster
Large-billed Gerygone Gerygone magnirostris
Green-backed Gerygone Gerygone chloronota
White-throated Gerygone Gerygone olivacea
Australasian Babblers (Pomatostomidae)
Grey-crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis
Woodswallows, Butcherbirds & Allies (Artamidae)
White-breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorynchus
Black-faced Woodswallow Artamus cinereus
Little Woodswallow Artamus minor
Black Butcherbird Melloria quoyi
Silver-backed Butcherbird Cracticus argenteus
Pied Butcherbird Cracticus nigrogularis
Cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae)
Black-faced Cuckooshrike Coracina novaehollandiae
White-bellied Cuckooshrike Coracina papuensis
White-winged Triller Lalage tricolor
Varied Triller Lalage leucomela
Shriketits (Falcunculidae)
Northern Shriketit Falcunculus whitei
Whistlers & Allies (Pachycephalidae)
Grey Whistler Pachycephala simplex
Mangrove Golden Whistler Pachycephala melanura
Rufous Whistler Pachycephala rufiventris
White-breasted Whistler (H) Pachycephala lanioides
Arafura Shrikethrush Colluricincla megarhyncha
Grey Shrikethrush Colluricincla harmonica
Sandstone Shrikethrush Colluricincla woodwardi
Figbirds, Old World Orioles, Piopios (Oriolidae)
Australasian Figbird Sphecotheres vieilloti
Olive-backed Oriole Oriolus sagittatus
Green Oriole Oriolus flavocinctus
Drongos (Dicruridae)
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus
Fantails (Rhipiduridae)
Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys
Northern Fantail Rhipidura rufiventris
Arafura Fantail Rhipidura dryas
Monarchs (Monarchidae)
Magpie-lark Grallina cyanoleuca
Leaden Flycatcher Myiagra rubecula
Broad-billed Flycatcher Myiagra ruficollis
Shining Flycatcher Myiagra alecto
Paperbark Flycatcher Myiagra nana
Crows, Jays (Corvidae)
Torresian Crow Corvus orru
Australian Mudnesters (Corcoracidae)
Apostlebird Struthidea cinerea
Australasian Robins (Petroicidae)
Mangrove Robin (H) Peneothello pulverulenta
Buff-sided Robin Poecilodryas cerviniventris
Lemon-bellied Flyrobin Microeca flavigaster
Jacky Winter Microeca fascinans
Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)
Tree Martin Petrochelidon nigricans
Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis
White-eyes (Zosteropidae)
Canary White-eye Zosterops luteus
Flowerpeckers (Dicaeidae)
Mistletoebird Dicaeum hirundinaceum
Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)
Crimson Finch Neochmia phaeton
Double-barred Finch Stizoptera bichenovii
Masked Finch Poephila personata
Long-tailed Finch Poephila acuticauda
Chestnut-breasted Mannikin Lonchura castaneothorax
Gouldian Finch Chloebia gouldiae
Total seen 183
Total heard only 3
Total recorded 186

Mammal List

Common Name Scientific Name
Old World Fruit Bats (Pteropodidae)
Black Flying Fox Pteropus alecto
Little Red Flying Fox Pteropus scapulatus
 
Suids (Suidae)
Wild Boar Sus scrofa
 
Kangaroos, Wallabies, and Allies (Macropodidae)
Agile Wallaby Macropus agilis
Short-eared Rock Wallaby Petrogale brachyotis
 
Equines (Equidae)
Domestic Horse Equus caballus
 
Bovids (Bovidae)
Domestic Water Buffalo Bubalus bubalis
Total 7

Reptile List

Common Name Scientific Name
Crocodiles (Crocodylidae)
Saltwater Crocodile Crocodylus porosus
Australian Freshwater Crocodile Crocodylus johnstoni
 
Skinks (Scincidae)
Lowlands Plain-backed Ctenotus Ctenotus essingtonii
Bauxite Rainbow-skink Carlia amax
Six-toothed Rainbow-skink Carlia sexdenta
Swanson’s Snake-eyed Skink Cryptoblepharus cygnatus
 
Geckos (Gekkonidae)
Common House Gecko Hemidactylus frenatus
 
Dragons (Agamidae)
Gilbert’s Dragon Lophognathus gilberti
Northern Two-line Dragon Diporiphora bilineata
Total 9

 

Australia September 2023 birding

Gilbert’s Dragon was seen frequently during the tour.

 

 

This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.

Birding Tour Australia: Northern Territory – Top End Birding

 Tour-Specific Information

 

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT AUSTRALIA CAN BE READ HERE

 

TOUR OUTLINE

This exciting Northern Territory, Top End birding tour starts and ends in Darwin city. Darwin itself offers some excellent birding right within and around the city – such as at Lee Point, George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, and Holmes Jungle Nature Reserve. After birding in Darwin, this Top End bird tour makes a circuit of this part of the Northern Territory and takes in Adelaide River, Mary River, Kakadu National Park, Pine Creek, and Katherine.

There are so many high-quality birds on this Top End birdwatching tour, and it is difficult to summarize them, so please take a look at the detailed itinerary here. A few of the highlights include Red Goshawk, Rainbow Pitta, White-breasted Whistler, Mangrove Golden Whistler, Hooded Parrot, Northern Rosella, Mangrove Fantail, Northern Shriketit, Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon, Partridge Pigeon, Sandstone Shrikethrush, Black-tailed Treecreeper, and one of the stars of the show – Gouldian Finch. In addition to the special birds mentioned, we will also likely be impressed by huge numbers of waterfowl at desert billabongs (wetlands). The sight of wetlands here teeming with birds is seriously impressive.

This Top End birding tour combines perfectly with our other Northern Territory birding tour, which takes us birding around Alice Springs.

While the birds on our Top End birding tour are the main reason for our trip, we will also pass through some beautiful and unique landscapes that have been home to native people for thousands of years, and we will be sure to soak in these sights, too.

 

DAILY ACTIVITIES, PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS, AND TOUR PACE

This Top End birding tour moves at a relaxed pace yet still targets all of the readily accessible regional specials, of which there are many.

The city of Darwin offers wonderful birds, with numerous great birdwatching sites within and very close to the city. We will start our tour by visiting some of these places, such as Lee Point, George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, and Holmes Jungle Nature Reserve. Our accommodation in Darwin is situated an easy short walk from one of these sites, so if you arrive ahead of the tour (always recommended), you can get your Australia birding trip off to a good start as you get acclimatized to the time zone, the weather, and the birds!

After a stint of birding in Darwin, we will start our loop of the Northern Territory’s Top End. We will visit Adelaide River, Mary River, Kakadu National Park, Pine Creek, and Katherine, and each of these areas will give us different target birds. We will base ourselves in accommodation that offers a great base to explore the surrounding areas. As we don’t spend every night of this tour in a different hotel, the tour shouldn’t feel as rushed as other tours where we cover further distances and require different hotels most nights. Most drives between different accommodations/bases will take 1 – 2.5 hours; however, we will often break up drives for birding stops or bathroom breaks, so the journey times are likely to take longer than this. The longest drives are from Jabiru to Katherine and Katherine to Darwin; both are around 3 – 4 hours of driving time. We may make trips of around one hour from our accommodation to get to certain birding areas.

The tour is generally considered easy in terms of physical exertion. However, the temperatures during the day could get high (see the “Weather” section below), so dehydration needs to always be considered a possibility, as does heat stroke and sunburn.

We will make quite a few short and productive walks from our vehicle at different sites in a loop of up to 0.6 – 1.2 miles (1 – 2 kilometers/km), and we may make several of these a day. We are also likely to make some slightly longer walks of 2.5 miles (4 km), and we may make a couple of these a day. Walking is mainly on flat or occasionally undulating ground. In some areas, we will be walking on maintained trails, but at other times, we will be walking on sandy or rough ground, which may have loose rocks or holes, so care should always be taken.

At some waterhole locations, we might make use of viewing blinds (bird hides) to observe the site and attending birds.

 

TRANSPORTATION

We will use a 12-seater minibus on this Top End birding tour. There will be limited baggage space, so please pack as lightly as possible for the tour (including within the seating area).

 

DOMESTIC FLIGHTS

There are no domestic flights on this Top End birdwatching tour.

 

LUGGAGE

Please pack as lightly as possible for this Top End bird tour due to the limited space inside vehicles. A medium, soft-sided, and robust duffle bag is likely to work best for packing in the tour vehicles. You will be expected to load and unload your own bags into and out of vehicles.

We recommend that a daypack is used to keep items that you wish to use daily when in the vehicle or when birding in the field (such as binoculars, camera, notebook, field guide, personal supply of water, snacks, umbrella, rain jacket, extra layers of clothing, etc.).

 

ACCOMMODATION

This birding tour of the Top End of the Northern Territory stays in comfortable accommodation throughout. All accommodation has private bathrooms. Once we leave Darwin, we will be staying in remote areas and we will eat most of our meals (particularly breakfasts and dinners) at our accommodations, which have restaurants.

In Darwin, we will stay at a comfortable resort on the edge of the city in the northern suburbs, just a short drive from Darwin International Airport and close to some great birding areas and beaches. The resort has stylish accommodations with air conditioning, a private bathroom, free Wi-Fi, two saltwater swimming pools, and an on-site restaurant and bar. We will stay here for the first two nights of the tour, and if you plan to arrive ahead of the tour (or need to stay after your tour has finished due to flight schedules, etc.), we recommend staying here and can help make bookings subject to availability.

As we commence our loop around the Top End birdwatching circuit, we will first stop in the Adelaide River and Mary River areas. We will spend one night in a wilderness lodge with great birdwatching on our doorstep. Our rooms here will be typical Australian motel-style rooms with air conditioning and private bathrooms, set in a wonderfully birdy area. There is a restaurant on site where we will eat our meals. There is no Wi-Fi available here.

Our base in Kakadu National Park will be on the edge of the town called Jabiru (the local name for Black-necked Stork, rather than the similarly named bird of South America!). Our accommodation is nestled amongst tropical landscaped gardens in the heart of Kakadu National Park, and we will spend three nights here. The lodge has a lagoon-style swimming pool, a spa pool, and an on-site bar and restaurant. We will stay in bungalows, each with air conditioning and a private bathroom. There is no Wi-Fi available here.

In Katherine, we will stay at a resort (with motel-style rooms) just out of town for the final two nights of the tour. Our rooms will have air conditioning and private bathrooms. The resort has an outdoor swimming pool, restaurant, and bar. The hotel has laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi is available.

 

WEATHER

Darwin has a similar temperature range year-round, and we can expect lows of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (oF) (21 degrees Centigrade/oC) at night and highs of around 95 oF (35 oC) during the day. It is often humid in Darwin, but at this time of year, it should be less humid than other times, 45 – 50% humidity in September/October versus 70%+ in the November-March period. Rain is considered unlikely during the time our Top End bird tour visits the area, as we are traveling outside of the rainy season. Still, rain is always possible in tropical regions.

 

SAFETY

We do not recommend walking around Darwin at night for personal safety reasons. Please do not leave valuables (or anything at any time) inside the vehicle when it is parked to help reduce the risk of anyone breaking into the vehicle. Please keep a close watch on your possessions (e.g., bags, wallet, optics, etc.) when we are out and about in the city, such as during lunch and city birding stops. Keep a careful watch on your possessions in busy areas for pickpockets. Make sure the doors and windows are always closed and locked in your hotel rooms (when you are in the room and when you are out of it).

We need to take extreme care on this Top End birding tour due to the presence of Saltwater Crocodiles that can occur in or near the smallest waterbodies; they can also be found up to 0.6 miles (1 km) from water. We will be birding within habitats that crocodiles inhabit, such as rivers (including inland rivers – “salties” can occur over 124 miles (200 km) from the coast), coastal mangroves, and wetlands. Please do not stand close to the water’s edge or go anywhere near water at night. Crocodile warning signs are often in place and should always be adhered to. Do not swim in any rivers, creeks, or anywhere else that is not a swimming pool in a hotel (and check the pool first before jumping in!). Please refer to the Be Crocwise website for more information. As referred to in the Australia general information document, other general safety information should be considered, e.g., regarding snakes, etc.

 

WHAT TO BRING: CLOTHING AND OTHER ITEMS

The following is a list of useful items to bring on this Northern Territory birding tour and should be read in conjunction with the Australia general information document.

  1. A field guide to the birds of the region. See the general information for our recommendations for this tour.
  2. Hiking pole or walking stick to help on the tracks and trails. While probably not necessary for everyone, a walking stick is compulsory for anyone who is unsteady walking, as we feel this is a safety issue. We do not want anyone slipping while walking around. Please discuss with us if you are unsure whether you will need one or not.
  3. Torch (flashlight) and/or headlamp (headtorch), and spare batteries.
  4. High-concentration DEET insect repellant or similar.
  5. A flynet for your face is very useful in some years.
  6. A small personal first aid kit. See the suggested items from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here.
  7. Lightweight hiking boots are likely the best footwear for this tour. A set of sandals (flip-flops) and/or trainers would be useful for walking around some of the accommodations but are not suitable for birding time (consider snake bites, mud, slips, trips, falls, etc.).
  8. Quick-drying birding clothes (in suitable colors) are the best for this tour.
  9. All of the accommodations we stay at have swimming pools.
  10. A small hand towel or washcloth can be handy for cleaning sand and dust off cameras and yourself. Not essential, but people do find these useful.
  11. A dry bag to keep valuable documents in, such as passports, cell phones, wallets, etc., as well as cameras, if it rains or is particularly dusty.

Birding Ecotours

Download Top End tour Information

AUSTRALIA GENERAL INFORMATION

The species and geographic coverage on this Darwin-centered tour were excellent. Andy is a truly great guide who is adamant about getting everyone on every bird with their bins. He has a delightful sense of humor, is culturally broad-minded and sympathetic to a wide variety of participants' limitations. His knowledge of the tour birds was phenomenal as well.

Chuck - On Andy and Australia

Andy Walker is a terrific birder and guide. His knowledge, persistence and patience got us a lot of great looks at many skulky birds in the Top End.

Ted - On Andy and Australia

Kakadu National Park was fantastic. Andy is top notch and a very dedicated guide. He wants us to see even the hard-to-get birds.

Tim and Kay - on Andy and Australia

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