Australia Birding Tours
The Commonwealth of Australia (“Australia” hereafter) is a country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous other smaller islands. Australia is the largest country in Oceania and the sixth-largest country by total area. It has a population of 26 million people found in the major cities, primarily along the east coast, these including Canberra (the capital), Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, with Perth being the largest city in the southwest.
Australia has six states – New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia, and two mainland territories – the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. Several external territories are also administered by the commonwealth – these include Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and the MacDonald Islands, and Norfolk Island. Two other islands are part of mainland states, Macquarie Island (part of Tasmania) and Lord Howe Island (part of New South Wales). Australia is surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans but nearby countries include New Zealand, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.
Australia is the oldest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soil and is made up of a variety of landscapes ranging from deserts (“The Outback” and Uluru/Ayers Rock) to tropical and temperate rainforests. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s longest coral reef and is located just off the northeast coast. The Great Dividing Range runs down the east of the country, the fertile Atherton Tablelands providing some great birding.
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Humans have inhabited Australia for at least 65,000 years with people migrating across land bridges and short sea-crossings from what is now Southeast Asia. Europeans arrived in the 17th century and this led to a period of colonization. The Dutch were the first to map the west and north, naming the landmass New Holland and Captain James Cook was the first European to map the eastern coastline and he named it New South Wales and claimed it for Great Britain. The expansion of British control began in the early 19th century, but the incredibly hostile environment made it slow going.
Following International Ornithological Congress (IOC) taxonomy, v10.2 (November 2020), the Australia bird list is considered to stand at 977 species, with an impressive 361 of these Australian birds being endemics. Some of these endemic birds include: Superb Lyrebird, Plains-wanderer, Orange-bellied Parrot, Southern Emu-wren, Purple-crowned Fairywren, Powerful Owl, Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, White-browed Treecreeper, and Gouldian Finch. There are many other highly sought-after species including Southern Cassowary, Black-necked Stork, albatrosses, penguins, parrots (including gorgeous Red-winged Parrot), fruit doves, Blue-faced Parrotfinch, grasswrens, and fairy wrens.
We currently have five fascinating small-group tours for those people interested in going birding in Australia, these tours have all been designed based on years of exploring the different regions and varied habitats of the country, in order to give you the best possible (and ordered approach) to birding here. Each tour is briefly outlined below and these tours can be combined to increase your bang-for-buck (follow the links for itineraries, photo galleries, and past trip reports):
This tour takes in Victoria, southern New South Wales, and southern and northern Queensland and connects with a huge number of exciting endemic species in a wide range of habitats. Some of the highlights on this tour include Southern Cassowary, Plains-wanderer, Shy Albatross, Malleefowl, Mallee Emu-wren, Striated Grasswren, Great-billed Heron, Golden Bowerbird, Regent Bowerbird, Splendid Fairywren, Superb Lyrebird, Albert’s Lyrebird, Pilotbird, Noisy Pitta, and Paradise Riflebird, to name a few. We take boat trips (which include snorkeling) to the Great Barrier Reef as well as along the Daintree River. Lots of exciting mammals (and reptiles) can be seen on this tour too such as Red Kangaroo, Koala, Platypus, Short-beaked Echidna, and Green Turtle.
An incredible opportunity to look for one of Australia’s rarest birds – Orange-bellied Parrot, along with many other specials of the island such as Swift Parrot, Forty-spotted Pardalote, Yellow Wattlebird, Little Penguin, Hooded Dotterel, Tasmanian Nativehen, Scrubtit, Black Currawong, Strong-billed Honeyeater, Morepork, Pink Robin, and Olive Whistler. Tasmania is very different to the rest of Australia, often lush green with some spectacular snow-capped mountains. We visit the delightful Bruny Island, home to all of Tasmania’s bird endemics. As a bonus the food in Tasmania is some of the best in Australia.
This tour provides an excellent chance to see many of the Top End specials, including Gouldian Finch, Hooded Parrot, Rainbow Pitta, Beach Stone-curlew, Chestnut Rail, White-breasted Whistler, Sandstone Shrikethrush, Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon, Masked Finch, Long-tailed Finch, and so many more. We also get a good dose of ancient civilization culture here as we visit several rock art sites in Kakadu National Park, located bang in the middle of some excellent birding locations. Stepping back into this world, in this gorgeous landscape is highly memorable!
Exploring the ‘Red Center’ is always fascinating with conditions often differing dramatically year-on-year here. While some birds are nomadic, following the water, others are more sedentary and we are sure to find some pretty special birds. Some of the highlights on this tour are likely to include Spinifex Pigeon, Dusky Grasswren, Gibberbird, Australian Pratincole, Inland Dotterel, Black-breasted Buzzard, Bourke’s Parrot, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Spinifexbird, Red-browed Pardalote, Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, Western Bowerbird, and Budgerigar. A visit to Uluru will be a non-birding highlight too.
A really exciting tour that goes for the regional endemics found in the southwest of Western Australia. Delights such as Red-eared Firetail, White-breasted Robin, (Western) Crested Shriketit, Western Spinebill, Western Wattlebird, Red-winged Fairywren, Blue-breasted Fairywren, Baudin’s Black Cockatoo, Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo, (Muir’s) Western Corella, Rock Parrot, and others will be targeted, along with the tough trio of Noisy Scrubbird, Western Bristlebird, and Black-throated Whipbird (formerly Western Whipbird) of which we have had great success – see the tour gallery for photos of these species taken on our tours. We visit the incredible Dryandra Woodland (with a good chance of the rare Numbat) and the simply stunning Cheynes Beach.
We are also able to easily offer custom tours to Australia and have a great history of finding the tougher birds not always likely on a set departure tour. Please email us to discuss this option, let us know your target species and we can design an itinerary to see your target birds – please also feel free to ask us for trip reports showcasing our successful custom tours.