• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Australia – The Explorers Way and a few extra bits. (1 Viewer)


David and Sarah
Australia – The Explorers Way and a few extra bits (August - Sept 18).

Driving the length of the Stuart Highway from South to North Coast with a few detours to Flinders Range, Uluru, Kings Canyon, etc. has been a long held ambition since I saw the Explorer’s Way described as “a journey into Australia’s Outback, a journey that takes you across a modern nation to the heart of an ancient land, linking Adelaide and Darwin. It’s an exciting trip of extreme contrasts; from the lush vineyards in the south, through a magnificent outback mountain range and a desert that is home to Australia’s most famous icon, to the superb National Parks of the northern tropics".

So after 4 days in Adelaide we did the Explorer’s Way and then flew from Darwin after a long week-end there, to Brisbane and had some time at Lamington NP before a week in New Caledonia – then back to Brisbane again then home.

The trip was not a dedicated birding or wildlife one but we allowed a few stops in good places and had arranged outings with BirdingPals in Alice Springs and Darwin and a days guided birding in New Caledonia. We used both Slater and Pizzey guides for Australia and used Birding SA website and Laurie Ross’s various guides for stopping point along the way with varying levels of success, for mammals we had Cronin’s guide. For New Caledonia we had the Guy Dutson birds of Melanesia ( e-version was poor to navigate so hard copy was obtained).

We are in the fortunate position that Sarah has managed to get a career break and I’ve decided not to take on any contracts for a period so we had the time to do things in a fairly relaxed fashion. I’ve heard of someone doing the Explorers Way in under two weeks, our trip was almost 6 weeks!!

If anyone is interested Sarah is doing a more general blog, which I’ll attach at the end.

Day 1 - arrived in Adelaide Sunday night after flight from Manchester to Adelaide via Dubai with Emirates.
We stayed at Adabaco Boutique Hotel – only about a mile from Botanic Garden, the Railway Station, Rundle St, etc. so ideally placed for walking – although there is a free circular bus route that takes you around the main squares if you want to be lazy. We walked; on Sarah’s app we were doing more than 25,000 steps daily

Adelaide Area

On our first morning, at first light we went to Rymill Park and then into the Botanic Gardens once it had opened. We have been in Australia before but not in South Australia, so we hoped for one or two new birds as well as a reminder of some species we had seen on previous visits.

In our full morning we saw Rainbow Lorikeet, Eastern Rosella, Australian Wood Duck, White Ibis, White-faced Heron before we got our first new bird Musk Lorikeet a pair seemed to be breeding in the park, we added Dusky Moorhen, Noisy Miner and Coot before entering the Gardens, in the flowering area we had nice views of Eastern Spinebill, New Holland Honeyeater. After that it was more common stuff like Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Galah, Pacific Black Duck, Crimson Rosella, Magpie Lark and a nice Australian Hobby.

Afternoon was spent doing Museums and general sightseeing.

Belair National Park

Sarah had wanted to see a Koala in South Australia (a separate sub-species I think to those seen in NSW/QLD) and some Kangaroos as well as birds; so after some research I had established Belair NP as the best place and we could reach it easily on public transport - a half hour train journey and then free on foot access to the park directly from Belair station. We bought day trip tickets AUS$10 each at Adelaide station – you can buy at the station or on the train. We were going to get lunch at the Old Govenors House but it was closed so we made do with Snickers bars and coffee from the Plant Nursery there. We did receive good gen from the guy at the Nursery, who recognised us as birders – he told us of a rare local bird in his car park.

On arrival at the station you walk straight into a trail. We saw Adelaide Rosella (split by many authorities from Crimson Rosella), Musk Lorikeet, Red-rumped Parrot before we saw some small Roos, we thought they could be Rock Wallabies but on closer inspection they were just young Western Grey Kangaroos, there were also Walleroos (euros), there were quite a few introduced birds Goldfinch, House Sparrow and Starling before Brown Thornbill and Red-browed Finch brought back an Australian feel. On the lake were Wood Duck, Coot and Pacific Black Duck and there were numerous Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and plenty of Galah, before we saw what looked liked a Black-eared Miner in the Mallee area (no white on tail and no yellow or white above the bill) I know these are in real decline and hybridising with Yellow-throated) so not sure if this was just unusual Yellow-throated or a Hybrid. I’ll need to look on e-bird and post to a few contacts.
On the waterfall hike we saw Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, three time the pair showed above the trees before Sarah finally saw them well.

There were also Yellow-rumped Thornbills, an unidentified Treecreeper, Laughing Kookaboo, Magpie Lark, Red Wattlebird, New Holland and Singing Honeyeaters before having failed to get any coffee at the Old Govenor House we headed to the Plant Nursery for coffee and a snack. We quickly saw Blue Fairy Wren, before when sitting on some fallen trees in the car park we spotted what the guy had told us was possible a Rose Robin, this winter visitor from further south is a real rarity, one guy from SA Birding (a volunteer from the Gluepot) we met said he had never seen this cracker so a real treat.

That was about it with everything else being repeat views but finally just after 4 when heading for the 16.30 train Sarah spotted a Koala in a tree, he was really being blown around as the wind strengthened and we were glad to see him become awake and get some good photographs before boarding our train in great spirits.


Our next day was not a birding one we took the tram along to Glenelg, typical tourist things like, Musuem, coastal walk, fish and chips on the beach, HMS Buffalo, Old Gum tree etc. but we did add a few birds in the area by the sand extraction on the beach, Pied and Black-faced Cormorant, (is this normal here despite being an island bird), Silver Gulls and in the gardens Magpie Lark, Rainbow Lorikeet, Adelaide Rosella and Noisy Miner.


  • crested pigeon.JPG
    crested pigeon.JPG
    800.7 KB · Views: 27
  • adel rosella.JPG
    adel rosella.JPG
    542 KB · Views: 27
  • white faced heron.JPG
    white faced heron.JPG
    797.3 KB · Views: 19
  • pair of galah.JPG
    pair of galah.JPG
    779.6 KB · Views: 28
  • koala cu.JPG
    koala cu.JPG
    733.2 KB · Views: 22
Travel to Clare and then Wilpena Pound

Travel to Clare

St Kilda – we saw the sign for the Adelaide International Bird Centre so turned off to see salt pools, there were both[B] Banded [/B]and Black-winged Stilts and Australian Avocet near to shore. You could do a mangrove walk – get key from the Tackle shop (leave a card or driving licence to get key). The walk was OK but the tide was wrong so we only added Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Royal Spoonbill, Silver Gull, White-faced Heron and Blue Fairy Wren.

Our next stop at Pengilly Scrub was planned based on SA birding info, we probably weren’t there at the ideal time but did add White-browed Babbler, White-throated Treecreeper, Grey Fantail, White-plumed Honeyeater and Brown Thornbill.

Our attention then turned to wine and we visited the Shut the Gate and Taylor cellar doors for a few samples before visiting Spring Gully in the late afternoon. The first things we noticed were the number of Red Kangaroos in the surrounding fields, bird wise we added Little Raven, Grey Shrike-Thrush, Redthroat, Crested Pigeon, Singing Honeyeater, Goldfinch, Adelaide Rosella and Galah.

It was then time for more wine and dinner at Clare Country Club, very nice it was too.

Clare to Flinders Range – Wilpena Pound

A quick walk around the hotel grounds and lake gave us Adelaide Rosella, Rainbow Lorikeet, Musk Lorikeet, Galah, Laughing Kookaboro, White-plumed Honeyeater, Yellow-thoated Miner and on the lake Wood Duck, Australian darter, Pacific Black Duck, Blue-billed Duck, Coot, White-faced Heron, Nankeen Night Heron and Coot.

On the drive north as the scenery changed we had our first Wedge-tailed Eagle of the trip, Black-shouldered Kite and plenty of Australian Magpies and Australian Raven for company. Our first stop just beyond Hawker at a spring gave us some Zebra Finch and then as we followed a call a lovely little group of Southern Whiteface and in the scrub a mixed group of White-winged Fairy Wren in various plumages. Back at the car a group of White-browed Babbler finally showed themselves – so three lifers in 30 minutes.

There was nothing else seen apart from Emu and Red Kangaroo until we reached the Wilpena Pound Resort, but as we stepped out the car two Eastern Ringneck Parrots were in the bushes by reception also seen were Laughing Kookaburra, Little Corella, Musk Lorikeet and Grey Butcherbird. We just had time to dump our back and head up to Stokes Hill look-out for the sunset. A great natural sight but no sign of the Thick-billed Grasswren that occurs hear although we did add a Black-breasted Buzzard.

In search of Rock Wallabies

Today was more a search for Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies rather than a specific bird although we would obviously keep our eyes peeled. We had breakfast when it started and headed to Brachina Gorge, an interesting geological drive through time with various sign detailing the features that occurred from 650 million to 510 million years ago, just before we reached the gorge there was little creek with some water from recent rains, in the vacinity were White-plumed Honeyeater, Ringnecks, Yellow-thoated Miners and in the rocks behind Southern Whiteface.

We saw some movement at the top of the rocks above what appeared to be a trail, we went up although Sarah wasn’t convinced it was a trail, in any event it turned out to be just some young Walleroo.
We made our where around to the fenced off area which protected for the Wallabies but despite our and a couple of other people searching there was nothing found . I should mention it was a very cold morning – even after 9.30 it was only 40C and staff were not convinced the animals would be active. We decided to try again for the grasswren on Stokes Hill as per Laurie Ross info – we spent a bit of time listening and had a picnic there but no sign of the bird. Although there were closeup views of Wedge-tailed Eagles.

We took the walk from the Resort to the homestead – nothing really oustanding Peaceful Dove, Galah, Fairy Martin, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Inland Thornbill, Striated Pardolet, Red Wattlebird and Australian Magpie but enough to keep us interested.

Around 16.00 we headed back to Brachina Gorge – we parked up and went separate directions to scan the cliffs, after about 10 minutes 1 found a little Wallaby but Sarah was about a 1KM away, I noted the area and ran 100m up the road before whistling and waving to Sarah, eventually she saw me and came back to near where we parked. I told her it is much lower on the rocks on the nearest rock falls – it took us about 5 minutes to re-locate the now totally stationary Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby, which Sarah saw first and then we both hooked up even getting a few photographs.
On the way back as we crossed the little creek with the flowering trees we saw 4 Honeyeaters that looked a little different, we studied the guide and they were Fuscous Honeyeater – a little out of range according to one guide but at limits of range based on Slater, other birds including Laughing Kookaburra, Galah and Little Raven. Guy from Birding SA said rare but there have been other reports but all in all a real poverty of birds in the area.

We just had time to get back to watch the sunset from Hutts Lookout and have beer and dinner at the resort.


  • banded stilt.JPG
    banded stilt.JPG
    473.3 KB · Views: 18
  • kokaburra cu.jpg
    kokaburra cu.jpg
    84.7 KB · Views: 20
  • sothern whiteface.JPG
    sothern whiteface.JPG
    633.2 KB · Views: 22
  • yellow footed rock wallaby.JPG
    yellow footed rock wallaby.JPG
    1,020 KB · Views: 38
  • yellow footed rock wall.JPG
    yellow footed rock wall.JPG
    1 MB · Views: 28
Dutchman Stern, Port Augusta and Coober Pedy

Dutchman Stern and Port Augusta

Having seen the wallaby and found birding really quiet we decided to set off early for Dutchman Stern a local reserve near Quorn, it was hosting a Birding SA walk this morning so we thought we might catch up with some local birders who could give us gen. In actual fact the walk was poorly attended and we only spoke to one helpful guy who gave us a location for a Robin. We headed immediately to the area described and there he was a smart Red-capped Robin who allowed a close approach and some reasonable shots, also in this area were Spine-cheeked and Singing Honeyeaters, Brown Songlark, Australian Pipit, Welcome Swallow and Variegated Fairy Wren, the walk had not seen anything else we were looking for so we headed down to The Arid Desert Park in Port Augusta.

We had a really good afternoons birding hear with Chirruping Wedgebill, Crested Bellbird, White-winged Fairy Wren, White-browed Babbler, Silver Gull, and then after seeing yet another set of Galah fly into trees I saw something that made me look twice, I said to Sarah Major Mitchell's, bloody Major Mitchell, look here and there he was with his pink and reddish crest a single Major Mitchell Cockatoo sitting on his own, my very loud stage whispers as we got on the bird disturbed it so only one unusable photo, I think it was a good year for this nomadic bird as we saw one more north of Alice and there was a flock of 10 in Alice that we tried for once but didn’t connect with and gave up as we already had the tick, so a pretty good day but no sign of any rare Honeyeaters that sometime occur in the park.

Port Augusta to Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy is a unique underground town famous for it’s Opal mining – we stayed in an underground room in The Desert Cave hotel.

A bit of a long drive with stops to break up the drive and look for desert birds without much success, all we saw this day was Emu, Nankeen Kestrel, Wedge-tailed Eagles, Dusky and Little Woodswallows, Little Crow, Zebra Finch, Australian Pipit and Red and Grey Kangaroos.


  • rose capped robin.JPG
    rose capped robin.JPG
    883.2 KB · Views: 32
  • rose capped robin2.JPG
    rose capped robin2.JPG
    690.9 KB · Views: 24
  • babbler with spider.JPG
    babbler with spider.JPG
    747.4 KB · Views: 21
  • spiny cheeked honeyeater.JPG
    spiny cheeked honeyeater.JPG
    807.9 KB · Views: 23
  • emu.JPG
    989.4 KB · Views: 17
A great trip report David!...never been to Oz...perhaps one day? Know nowt about the avifauna other than just a handful of species...although I did find an odd Gull in St.James's park London once, after a bit of research, it turned out to be a Silver Gull!

Hope you get some shots of Blue fairy Wren, as that's one bird I'd be extremely pleased to "fill the frame" with.

A great trip report David!...never been to Oz...perhaps one day? Know nowt about the avifauna other than just a handful of species...although I did find an odd Gull in St.James's park London once, after a bit of research, it turned out to be a Silver Gull!

Hope you get some shots of Blue fairy Wren, as that's one bird I'd be extremely pleased to "fill the frame" with.


Sounds like a great idea for a trip - looking forward to reading this.

Thanks - it's a long way but a great country
Coober Pedy to Marla via Painted Desert

Coober Pedy to Marla via Painted Desert

After some sight-seeing at the Breakaways and a drive through the moon plains stopping for Masked and Dusky Woodswallows we stopped at a bore hole near the hamlet of Mount Barry, the pond designed for cattle drinking was the most productive point with loads of Zebra Finch, Black-fronted Dotterel, Willy Wagtail, and then we spotted a yellowish bird but with a black-face closer inspection gave us our only Orange Chat of the trip and better still we soon found a Gibberbird.

There were also quite a few birds of prey, the obvious Wedge-tailed Eagles often at the roadside chasing off Little Crows from the carrion, Brown Falcon, Nankeen Kestrel and Whistling Kite, Black Kites were only seen near farms or the small settlements other birds seen were Pied Butcherbird, Little Corella, Crested Pigeon, and Magpie Lark.

The Painted Desert was well worth seeing but apart from Ringnecks and White-plumed Honeyeater not really offering any birding. We drove 200KM on tracks scanning for desert birds like Inland Lapwing, Quail-Thrush and Letter-winged Kites but without success. When we got to Marla we added Yellow-throated Miner and Galah. to the daily list.


  • young red kanga.jpg
    young red kanga.jpg
    212.4 KB · Views: 21
  • 20180821_135239.jpg
    388.1 KB · Views: 26
  • breakaways.jpg
    332.8 KB · Views: 22
  • zebra finch pair.jpg
    zebra finch pair.jpg
    175.4 KB · Views: 25
  • crested pigeon sitting.jpg
    crested pigeon sitting.jpg
    346.6 KB · Views: 22
Uluru and Kings Canyon

Marla to Uluru

Off nice and early for long drive to Uluru, brief stop at Erdlunda for fuel but no sign of any birds there. We had just turned off the Stuart Highway when I yelled to Sarah STOP!!, right in front of us was a Letter-winged Kite which is said to be nocturnal but was flying this morning. Unfortunately by the time Sarah had stopped the car and I had got out with the camera the bird was now distant but at least we could see clearly this rare bird with our bins albeit moving into the distance, apart from Zebra Finch, Crested Dove and Whistling Kite until we got almost to the Mount Connor look-out the rock that people often mistake for Uluru, and then we saw a flock of 12 parrots, looking for any nomads in the desert we stopped quickly and identified 12 Scarlet-chested Parrots which one of our birdingpals said is a great record this far north.

We didn’t see a lot when we got to Uluru, despite trying the area for the Sandhill Grasswren in the sunset viewing area, all we added were Yellow-throated Miner, Willy Wagtail, Black-faced Woodswallow and an unidentified young fairywren.

The sunset was spectacular but it was freezing cold.

Uluru and the Olgas

We went to the sunrise viewing area and at first light found Splendid Fairy Wren and I thought I’d try playing the Sandhill Grasswren call, I wasn’t sure if they responded to calls, but I asked the Italian guy who was the only one around if he minded, he didn’t he was keen on nature but not really a birder, after playing the call twice, I had a response from in-front and behind the viewing area and amazingly the birds both showed not brilliantly so photos are pretty grim but good enough for us to see birds pretty well, only other bird on our walk was Inland Thornbill and Yellow-throated Miner.

We drove around to the Olgas viewing area, good views of Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater and White-plumed Honeyeater but nothing else. We returned to the hotel we were staying at Sails in the Desert (a pricey but good hotel) and we added Mistletoebird and Nankeen Kestrel.

Sunset was at the Olgas second viewing point – again a great sight but no birds and no night birds afterwards either, again it was almost freezing. So not really conducive to Nightjars or Booboks.

Uluru to Kings Canyon

We watched the sun rise over Uluru from the resort viewpoint, birds seen included Galah, Australian Magpie, Willie Wagtail and White-plumed Honeyeater. We then grabbed breakfast and filled up with fuel before setting off for Kings Canyon resort.

On the way we stopped at Katherine Spring and then had a walk at the gorge before watching the sunset with a beer at the watch point. A pretty disappointing day bird wise with just Hooded Robin, Zebra Finch, Brown Falcon, Pied Butcherbird, White-backed Swallow, Wedge-tailed Eagle and Nankeen Kestrel added. However today as a few days around the red centre was always about the scenery and walking with just a hope that some nomadic rare bird puts in an appearance.

Only other wildlife was a Red Kangaroo and a Tarantula of some sort.

Kings Canyon and drive to Alice

We did Canyon floor and walk to viewpoint rather than whole canyon edge walk. First birds we saw were Crested Pigeon, Hooded Robin, Ring-necked Parrot, Grey Shrike-Thrush, Variegated Fairy-wren, up the hill we added Spinifex Pigeon and Inland Thornbill before we decided to head to Alice Springs.

We were meant to have a 4 wheel drive Toyota Kluger but the Highlander we had although it good road clearance only had a basic traction control which had been fine on tracks so far, but when we started down the 100KM of the Ernest Giles road the car was struggling; after seeing 2 roll-overs we decided that we would go the long way round on the Highway, probably very sensible as we heard someone tell us how they wrecked their campervan; and we had a stroke of luck just where I decided to do a three point turn a Grey Falcon was sitting in a tree; looking like a pale Peregrine, I don’t think we had driven past the bird so I think he had just flown in but it could have been missed as we were looking at road conditions, so first bit of birding luck for a day or two.


  • hooded robin.jpg
    hooded robin.jpg
    132.5 KB · Views: 24
  • mount connor.JPG
    mount connor.JPG
    710 KB · Views: 19
  • spiny cheeked honeyeater.JPG
    spiny cheeked honeyeater.JPG
    807.9 KB · Views: 23
  • the olgas.JPG
    the olgas.JPG
    501.8 KB · Views: 14
  • yellow throated miners.JPG
    yellow throated miners.JPG
    626.9 KB · Views: 20
Alice Spring to Katherine via Tenant Creek

Alice Spring to Tenants Creek

A long drive with stops at creeks and viewpoints at our first stop which was an old well and dwelling we spotted a ]Grey Honeyeater, something we were told was an Alice speciality, only other birds were White-plumed and Yellow-throated Miner.

Next stop at the old Telegraph station at Barrow Creek was a recommended birding site, we didn’t find much a Black-breasted Buzzard, Galah, Spotted Turtle Dove, Whistling Kite and Little Corella, and we did hear a Grasswren behind the old telegraph station ground but couldn’t get a response or see the bird.

Only other birds of note as we drove to Tenant Creek were some close up Wedge-tailed Eagles, then some Little Woodswallows on a stop at the Devil’s Marbles, on arrival at the Goldfields Hotel we still had time for a bit of birding and some locals recommended Lady Mary Ann Lake, we got there an hour before sunset and it was pretty good, Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel, Australian Pelican, Little Pied Cormorant, Grey Teal, White Ibis, Brown Falcon all seen before a flash of red near the lake shore – three male and a few young / female Crimson Chats, I tried to work my way round for photos and did manage a few record shots but they were a little flighty, still great views of this target bird. It got better as we made our way to the open field the Little Corella were flying in and there in a nearby wire was a Major Mitchell Cockatoo a splendid end to the day although we couldn’t find any Nightjars or Owls.

Tenant Creek to Katherine via Daly Waters

Another long driving day after which will have pretty much cracked the Explorers Way. We didn’t see anything apart from Torresian Crow, Wedge-tailed Eagle and Black Kite until we reached Daly Waters. This old outback town has the oldest continuous use building, a pub since 1930 and a hostel, telegraph station digs etc. since 1870’s. There was a garden with large drinking pool and watering was taking place in the town gardens and camp site, so after barren desert it was nice to see some birds, 100+ Rainbow Lorikeet, a couple of Great Bowerbirds (one even tried to steal our cake at the pub), a large group of Apostlebirds, Bar-shouldered Dove, Red-winged Parrots and Crested Pigeon.

We had given ourselves enough time on arrival at Katherine (Pine Tree Hotel) to have a walk down to the river and over the old rail bridge. We added a few good birds Pheasant Coucal, Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo and Yellow Oriole plus our first Figbirds of the trip.
On the bridge we also saw an Eastern Osprey taking a fish and a White-faced Heron. The saltwater crocodile trap had a croc in it so we abided by the warnings and kept well back.


  • apostlebird.JPG
    916.1 KB · Views: 23
  • black fronted dottrel.JPG
    black fronted dottrel.JPG
    1,017.9 KB · Views: 23
  • splendid fairywren.JPG
    splendid fairywren.JPG
    625.9 KB · Views: 28
  • yellow throated miner uluru.JPG
    yellow throated miner uluru.JPG
    607.4 KB · Views: 25
  • aus pipit.JPG
    aus pipit.JPG
    848.7 KB · Views: 22
Alice Springs

It took us longer than expected to get to Alice by this longer route, so we just dropped off our bags and headed to the Botanic Garden, looking for what we thought was a certain tick. However the Bowerbirds was not obvious, so we had a walk up the hill looking for a group of Rock Wallabies. I thought we had one but it turned out to be a small Euro, birds added here were Spiny-Cheeked Honeyeater, Black Kite, and then a new one Grey-crowned Babbler, we bumped into 4 nature watcher / birders from Melbourne who also hadn’t seen the Western Bowerbirds but they did point us at 2 cute Black-footed Rock wallabies and some Ringnecks. I was able to give them a tick when they called the Miner Noisy, rather than Yellow-throated. Just as we were about to give up and go to the apartment I spotted the male Western Bowerbird in a tree, it turns out we weren’t far from his bower but without local knowledge we could have missed it and the bird (Will C. our birdingpal showed us the bower the next day).

Alice Springs

We had arranged to go birding with Will Cormack a birding pal. We decide that we would go with him to the Water Treatment works and the Botanic Garden, he could get us access and then go under our own steam to Kunoth Bore in the late afternoon. Will has lived for over 30 years in Alice and found Australia’s first Forest Wagtail in Alice, he was good company and took us back to his house afterwards to show us a few sites on Google-earth including the best place to wait at Kunoth Bore.

At the treatment works we saw, Red-capped Plover, Wood and Common Sandpiper, Australian Avocet, Red-kneed Dotterel, Black-necked Stilt, Hoary-headed Grebe, Freckled Duck, Chestnut Teal, Pink-eared Duck, Native Bush-hen, a stunning male plumage White-winged Fairy-wren, Rufous Whistler ( Will thought the one I spotted may be a first for the site), Black Swan, Australian pipit and Little Crow, before we picked out a couple of White-winged Terns.
Unfortunately no sign of some hoped for Crimson Chats or Major Mitchells Cockatoo, that had been present earlier in the week, there were 10 birds in the Alice area which we did try for but not too hard as we had seen one earlier.

We then headed to the Botanic Gardens where we had some coffee and cake, that was all Will would take for his trouble. He showed us what was an obvious bower with its adornment of white bottle tops and plastic trinkets and the Western Bowerbird was sitting nearby. We also saw again the Ring-necks and the Grey-headed Babblers.

At Will’s home he showed us the easiest access to Kunoth Bore, turn left at the Youth Camp sign, and a place he had seen Banded Plover earlier in the week, over a drive river bed, 6Km along the track before he dropped us off at our apartments. He also gave us a site for Grey-headed Honeyeater and warned us that the area for Emu-wren had suffered some major fire damage.

We headed almost immediately for Kunoth, found the entrance and the spot where we would wait for parrots and then drove the track down to where Will had seen the Plover, a quick scan and we found a pair of Banded Plovers, there were only White-plumed and Spiny Cheeked Honeyeaters for company so we headed back to the pool, parked up and walked slowly around while the sun dropped, we didn’t see very much but we did see a nice Slaty-backed Gerygone and a Variegated Fairywren. As the sunset over the pool 40 Ring-necked Parrots arrived, they were followed by 28 Mulga Parrots, then dozens of Common Bronzewings, we were holding our nerve as the darkness started to fall when the first flock of 12 Bourke’s Parrot arrived before complete darkness fell we had got to over 50 of these gorgeous pinkish parrots and they were content to continue drinking when I started the car and the automatic beam of the cars headlights illuminated them when we prepared to leave.

Drive back to Alice and picked up a burger and some beers to take back with us to the apartment, you now have to show a photo ID to buy alcohol in the area, a new law introduced from 17th August to cut down on Aboriginal drinking is behind it – wandering through the town at night over the 3 nights here, there was an obvious problem.

Santa Teresa Road

Laurie Ross describes this road as one of the best sites in the area, Will had warned us that the best area had suffered some bad fires. We had a point at the 27K mark for Grey-fronted Honeyeater but no sign of the birds which had been seen here earlier in the week, all we had were a flock of Grey-crowned Babblers, we walked around for an hour and all we managed were poor views of three Banded White-faces which we tried to get for ages to get a photo of, at least they were new birds. When we got back to the car we had a sticker saying NT aware on the car, it was by now a pretty dusty machine but the car had been parked not abandoned by the side of the road like many wrecks, I called the contact centre and they said there contactors just sticker anything that is unoccupied.
We tried the site for Emu-Wren but not a single response and nothing else around, there was a real paucity of birds, further along the road we did see Brown Falcon, Masked Woodswallow and Nankeen Kestrel but the birding was really poor, so we decided to cut our losses and head to Simpson Gap and then the Alice Springs Desert Park. At Simpson Gap we quickly added Peregrine Falcon, Crested Pigeon, Red-browed Pardalote and Spinifex Pigeon on the cliff.

The Desert Park as well as having aviaries is quite birdy with some really good areas of Saltbush, Mallee and Desert which were in bloom.
The park also offered Sarah the chance to see the Thorny Devil, albeit in a controlled environment rather than in the wild, a creature she wanted to see in the red centre area.

Wild birds in the park included, Western Bowerbird, White-winged Fairy-wren, Splendid Fairywren, Galah, Ringnecked Parrot, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Rufous Whistler, White-plumed Honeyeater and believe it or not Grey-fronted Honeyeater which we had searched for unsuccessfully this morning.

There were also good aviaries making us jealous of Crimson Chat, Cinnamon Quail-Thrush, Inland Dotterel etc. – we can but hope and keep trying. An excellent Nocturnal House, a good film overview and a wild bird display – OK of its type.


  • white winged fairy wren.JPG
    white winged fairy wren.JPG
    931 KB · Views: 23
  • grey headed babbler likes mulga.JPG
    grey headed babbler likes mulga.JPG
    1.1 MB · Views: 18
  • black footed rock wallaby.JPG
    black footed rock wallaby.JPG
    1.1 MB · Views: 12
  • red capped plover breeding.JPG
    red capped plover breeding.JPG
    668.1 KB · Views: 21
  • bourkes parrots in dark.JPG
    bourkes parrots in dark.JPG
    790.2 KB · Views: 29
Apologies - posts are in wrong order

I posted Alice Springs after not before drive North to Tenant Creek and Katherine


  • little woodswallow.JPG
    little woodswallow.JPG
    430.9 KB · Views: 18
  • majormcockatoo.jpg
    100.7 KB · Views: 28
  • aus avocet.JPG
    aus avocet.JPG
    1 MB · Views: 20
  • mulga drinking.JPG
    mulga drinking.JPG
    791.3 KB · Views: 29
  • ringnecks kunoth bore.JPG
    ringnecks kunoth bore.JPG
    598.1 KB · Views: 27
a great trip report David. I was in Australia June/July, this year, but Major Mitchell Cockatoo, I saw only in an bird park.



a great trip report David. I was in Australia June/July, this year, but Major Mitchell Cockatoo, I saw only in an bird park.



I think we were lucky in that some rain had obviously fallen and there were a few flowerings trees in parts of the desert. Will said this was first spring time in 30 years that birds had been in Alice
Last edited:
Katherine Gorge and Dash to Pine Creek

Katherine Gorge and Dash to Pine Creek

Early start to get to Katherine Gorge before it gets too hot, we enjoy the cool of the morning and the birds near the visitor centre and the boat trip dock. We saw Northern Rosella, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Rufous-throated Honeyeater and Silvery-crowned Friarbird before we enter the trails, we decide to walk to the second and third gorge viewpoints at boats are only going this far. Other birds about included Little Shrike-thrush, Figbird, a cracking Crested Shrike-tit and a Grey Whistler.

By 9.30 it was now pretty hot - around 35C and apart from Torresian Crows and Black Kites there was little bird action, we bumped into a guy taking photos of Freshwater Crocodiles from a viewpoint – we discussed how far we were walking and looked at trail maps – it was only a few KM to the next viewing area but the heat on the escarpment was about 10C higher than the main trail and in the full sun. Sarah was feeling pretty hot so we decided to head back by the quickest route – even so she was all for just sitting down and resting after an hour or so – I kept her going, eking out our water until I knew the water tank on the trails was only half a kilometre away, I then gave her the last of the water and went down and filled up our containers I poured one over her head and gave her one to drink and then refilled them again for last 45 minute walk back to the main area.

Near the visitor centre, staff were watering the area by the campsite to keep the grass alive and there were plenty of Rainbow and Varied Lorikeet, Silvery-crowned Friarbirds, Apostlebirds and Great Bowerbirds around plus a lifer in Paper-bark Flycatcher.

We enjoyed a few nice drinks and some cake in the cafe before deciding that we would use the afternoon to check out the Edith Falls area of the park and then head up to Pine Creek, there was no way Sarah was going back out on the trails. As we headed towards the car park we saw the Aussie guy we had spoken to earlier, he was in a bad way, he had gone to the next viewpoint but had lost his way slightly and had given up and was lying on the ground without any water when luckily a young guy with loads of water bottles in his pack found him, he gave him some drink and put him right onto the main track back to the centre, he thought he was a goner. I’m sure they would have sent out searches when they discovered his car in the car in the short stay car park towards the end of the day but by then he could have been in a very bad way – this was an experienced bushwalker, so a warning to us don’t take conditions too lightly in the outback – even in spring.

My task for the afternoon was two-fold – find a likely pool for finches, hopefully to see some in the late afternoon but definitely for tomorrow morning and then get to Pine Creek for some birds that come to the sprinklers.

Things didn’t start too well we were held up for 20 minutes on the Stuart Highway roadworks, then although we knew the sort of shallow pools we were looking for we couldn’t find any on the Edith Falls Road, in fact we got right to the river and some pools beyond it which were obviously too deep before turning back, it was only when heading back to the main road and thinking that I now needed to get a move on, that I spotted a likely area just before the railway line. There were a few distant Long-tailed[/B] and Double-banded Finches sitting in the tree in the late afternoon but there would hopefully be a lot more at first light.

It was almost 17.45 when we reached Pine Creek, the watering was taking place at the GPS point mentioned in Laurie Ross’s info and on the grass were 6 Hooded Parrots and a single Gouldian Finch, which unfortunately flew off before we could exit the car and so Sarah didn’t really see it as she was on the opposite side. The parrots did stick around but we couldn’t find the so called “boot tree” instead around 20 birds were seen in a tree near the oval, there were no ground birds here as an AFL game was in progress. We asked some locals about the boot tree but they pointed us to the water gardens. Here we added Pied Cormorant, Intermediate Egret, Peaceful Dove and our first Rainbow Bee-eaters of the trip.

It was dark when we left Pine Creek on our 100K drive back to Katherine – we did have an Owl fly over which I’m almost certain from size and colouration was a Rufous Owl – but I hope for better as my birdingpal in Darwin has given me some encouraging news of this species.


  • silvery cr friarbird.JPG
    silvery cr friarbird.JPG
    680.4 KB · Views: 14
  • northern rosella.JPG
    northern rosella.JPG
    669.7 KB · Views: 15
  • hooded parrot2.JPG
    hooded parrot2.JPG
    783.1 KB · Views: 17
  • great bowerbird.JPG
    great bowerbird.JPG
    999.7 KB · Views: 14
  • double banded finch.JPG
    double banded finch.JPG
    662.4 KB · Views: 14
Finch Heaven

Edith Falls Road and Litchfield NP

Nice packed breakfast from the hotel (Pine Tree Motel) to eat when birding as we left early to get to Edith Falls Road by first light hoping for a great show of finches.
It looked positive when we parked up at the place we checked out yesterday and a few finches were already coming to drink in the pale light of day.

Suddenly around 100 finches arrive, with over 40 Gouldian Finches, (Red and Black), with smaller numbers of Star Finch, Masked Finch, Long-tailed Finch, Double-banded Finch[ and a couple of Pictorella Mannakin and a single Chestnut-breasted Mannakin.
It wasn’t just about these small crackers there were 2 Hooded Parrots, a couple of flocks of Cockatiel and plenty of Galah, a couple of Red-tailed Black Cockatoo and then arguable the best surprise of the morning a Purple-crowned Fairywren put in an appearance just between us and the finches. An incredible morning and it was still only 8.30 as the activity came to a slow halt, we got on the road and were in Lichfield NP by around 10.00.

We had been told that Lichfield was a more accessible bite sized version of Kakadu and doable in a day – you can only scratch the surface at Kakadu and we didn’t want to just say we had been there. We really enjoyed our day at Lichfield – it was a tourist thing, seeing the waterfalls, having a few swims in the rock pools, looking at the termite mounds and generally enjoying ourselves, we did bird in the High Swamp, on the cliffs and in two monsoon forest area – no sign of Pitta or Dove but we did see Blue-winged Kookaburra, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Red-backed Kingfisher, Sandstone Shrike-Thrush, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, White-bellied Cuckoo Shrike, Silver-crowned and Little Friarbirds, Rufous-throated Honeyeater, and Great White Egret as well as Northern Black Fruit Bats. Overnight at Lichfield Hotel in Batchelor.


  • finch time.JPG
    finch time.JPG
    542.3 KB · Views: 34
  • gouldian finch.JPG
    gouldian finch.JPG
    586.2 KB · Views: 25
  • red is best.JPG
    red is best.JPG
    463.8 KB · Views: 30
  • ss shrike thrush.JPG
    ss shrike thrush.JPG
    722 KB · Views: 21
  • rufous throated.JPG
    rufous throated.JPG
    440.2 KB · Views: 22
Enjoying your report, thanks! I’ve been here 6 years now and not made as far up Stuart Hwy!

In Belair your miners were almost certainly Noisy. Also in the Flinders, check the FuscousH-E against Grey-fronted. The latter are well known from that area.

Cheers, Ian

Enjoying your report, thanks! I’ve been here 6 years now and not made as far up Stuart Hwy!

In Belair your miners were almost certainly Noisy. Also in the Flinders, check the FuscousH-E against Grey-fronted. The latter are well known from that area.

Cheers, Ian

Thanks Ian - I thought Miner was likely to be Noisy.

It could have been Yellow-fronted HE, I'm obviously not that familiar with Honeyeaters (only our third trip to Aus) but I didn't see such a large Yellow Plume and I noted bird to be dull with no streaking. I know I haven't got any good shots of this bird but will go through the RAW images of that day to see if I have any that can help confirm identity.

Thanks again, David
Fogg Dam, Adelaide River Bridge and on to Darwin

Fogg Dam, Adelaide River Bridge and on to Darwin

We had been told that Fogg Dam was one of the best birding sites around Darwin with a good chance of two of our main targets so we had breakfast as soon it was available and got ourselves there before 8.30.

We decided to do the Monsoon Forest board walk and loop first, as we were walking to the toilet block at the start of the walk we heard the unmistakable whistle of a Pitta. This particular birds wasn’t playing ball but quite distantly a bird responded to our calls, we headed off down the boardwalk, after 30 minutes of cat and mouse we had almost got to the end of the boardwalk before I saw the bird briefly fly across in front of us, over there I pointed and I went onto the track to I thought get closer, but Sarah had the bird in her bins and saw it run across the track behind me. We finally got on the bird after another 20 minutes of trying and although I managed a few photographs they were not as clear as the views we obtained when I heard a Rose-crowned Fruit Dove and manged to call it in, he was high in a tree and I was clipping my speaker on a branch to try to bring it down when the Rainbow Pitta just sauntered across the path with me not ready. Within a few minutes we had seen both key targets and got record shots of both, we walked the rest of the loop but somehow went wrong on getting back on the boardwalk and ended up at the lily viewpoint, we actually saw a couple of other Pitta after the first one and Lemon-bellied, Flycatcher, Jacky Winter, Bar-breasted Honeyeater and Figbirds.

It was a very good spot and we added Royal Spoonbill, Brolga, Black-necked Stork, Great White Egret, Little Egret and Little Pied Cormorant.

We hadn’t really concentrated on where we were walking, it was a boardwalk and a loop after all, but we found ourselves lost with no sign of the path, so we set my phone to walk to the parking area and walked back via a side road that eventually joined the Fogg Dam road a long detour.

We drove up to the area for the hides and the Dam wall but unfortunately we couldn’t walk the wall as it was closed due to Crocodiles, from the hide we did add Radjah Shelduck, Australian Pratincol, White-necked and Pied Heron, Plumed Whistling Duck, Magpie Goose, Comb-crested Jacana and Australian Darter. On checking the time (we had to drop the car off in Darwin at 17.00) we established we had time for a quick bit of birding at the Adelaide River Bridge, near where the Jumping Crocodile tours leave, this was said to be good for Whistlers and Fantails but the area opposite the tours office was badly burnt and all we saw were Straw-necked Ibis and Mistletoebird.

On to Darwin and car hire office was closed, it had closed at mid-day, after a long phone call to the contact centre, we could keep the car overnight and drop it off at 9.00 tomorrow, so a slightly later start than planned and able to drive down to the Wharf for a meal.

We had done the Explorers Way 5730 kilometres - a great experience.


  • pitta.JPG
    743.3 KB · Views: 19
  • rainbow pitta potrait.jpg
    rainbow pitta potrait.jpg
    126.6 KB · Views: 26
  • chestnut br mannakin.JPG
    chestnut br mannakin.JPG
    572.8 KB · Views: 23
  • rc fruit dove rear.JPG
    rc fruit dove rear.JPG
    525.6 KB · Views: 21
  • masked plover.JPG
    masked plover.JPG
    1.2 MB · Views: 16
Warning! This thread is more than 6 years ago old.
It's likely that no further discussion is required, in which case we recommend starting a new thread. If however you feel your response is required you can still do so.

Users who are viewing this thread