Birding in Northern Territory, Australia

Monday, 6th October 2008

Northern Territory

Our first birding holiday outside of Malaysia. We joined friends Seng & Carol, David & Nina, SiewPing & Aun Tiah and Maureen on a 10-day trip to the Northern Territory of Australia.

We took AirAsia from KL to Singapore, making ourselves as comfortable as possible at Changi airport with a 6hr stop before our Tiger Airways flight took us on to Darwin.

We reached the Value Inn motel along Mitchell Street at about 1:15am and crashed out for the night.

Up early, we headed out and rented 2 Toyota Camry's, our chariots for the following 9 days.

Toyota Camry

Rather than rush off into the outback, we decided to stick around the Darwin area for the first day, just to get over the tiring journey getting us there, and to check out some good spots for migrant bird watching, and take a relaxing trip around the Botanical Gardens.


Straw-necked Ibis

Botanical Gardens, Darwin

27th Sept 2008

So our first birding spot was at the Botanical Gardens in Darwin. A superb park playing host to some great birds. With a stop at Safeway in the morning, we even had a Roast Chicken picnic in the gardens, which was just superb, thanks greatly to Carol and Maureen's cullinary skills and injenuity, they turned some relatively simple ingredients into a wonderful feast for us all.

The gang wandered off into the park, while I got chatting to a British guy (really can't remember his name) and his friend (Annie) who have been trundling around Australia in their Toyota van/bus for the past few weeks watching birds.

They offered heaps of advice on places to go, and what to see. They passed to me a map/booklet of the Kakadu National Park, listing so many places, contacts, bird sightings etc.., but unfortunately, I lost the booklet half-way through the trip, so was unable to make contact with them again.

The chap informed us that there was a Barking Owl just across from the carpark perched high up in a tree. Well, the big patch of splats on the ground gave his location away pretty good. After a bit of gazing around, we caught sight of him taking a rest for the day.

The park really has some nice birds, and a great opportunity for photography. One thing David and I noticed quite early on was how harsh the light can be in Australia.

Here's our birdlist for the botanical gardens at Darwin.


Rainbow Bee-eater

Lee Point, Darwin

27th Sept 2008

After we'd walked our lunch off around the Botanical gardends, we jumped into the cars and headed up to Lee Point which is located along the coast. The habitat is beachy.

In the blazing afternoon sun, we sought some shelter beneath a tree, scopes setup in search of the Little Curlew, but no joy. The list of birds was quite short, perhaps because we didn't hang around there for too long. The heat haze was producing nothing but total wobble through the scopes, and most of the birds were way off. The group couldn't move on until David and I had got some shots of the Rainbow Bee-eater. We managed to stake out a perch favoured by this bird while it was off in search of food. He came back to the perch, while David and I were squat behind a little bush trying our best to look inconspicuous.

Here's the birdlist for Lee Point.


White-bellied Sea Eagle

Buffalo Creek, Darwin

27th Sept 2008

By the time we got away from the Rainbow Bee-eater at Lee Point, we still had time to head around the corner to Buffalo Creek. This place was far more productive for Lifers, with a bit more mix of habitat. A mangrove forest running right along the coastline, and long sand-banks which waders/shore birds were able to feed along.

A monumental discovery was made whilst at Buffalo Creek. After scanning the coastline for quite some time, we headed over to a small kiosk which I guess was used for the management of the nearby jetty/boat launch.

This kiosk also served as a shop, and it was here that we discovered the greatness that is Paul's Iced Coffee. This priceless liquid would power us for the days to come. With average daily temperatures of 39°C, one can not begin to estimate the sheer bliss brought on by Paul's Iced Coffee (double shot).

Paul's Iced Coffed

Well...enough reminiscing, as we can't get it here in Malaysia, so back to the birds.

Here's our list for Buffalo Creek.


Rainbow Pitta

East Point Reserve, Darwin

28th Sept 2008

East Point is a nature reserve also along the coast just outside of the city of Darwin. It's a relatively famous place to go and see the Rainbow Pitta. Sure enough, no sooner had we driven along the driveway, out came the little chap scampering through the fallen leaves searching out food. He didn't seem too bothered about us either, although there was a point, around 6m, that if we tried to get any closer, he'd jump away.

There's a wonderful little jungle trail that we followed, and managed to get quite a few more lifers, such as the Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, the Grey Whistler and the Bush & Beach Stone-curlews, to name but a few.

So here we were for sunrise, taking our breakfast with us and sitting on picnic benches watching the birds wake up and scurry around getting their breakfast too.

The birdlist for East Point can be found here.


Green Pygmy-Goose

Fog Dam

28th Sept 2008

OK, so we have now left Darwin, en-route to Kakadu National Park. But would couldn't go there without stopping off at some great places along the way. One of which being Fog Dam.

Fog Dam is a large area of wetlands created by the 'wait for it' Fog Dam. It started out as a project to turn the area into an agricultural site for rice-growing, but the project stopped, with the result being it is now a protected zone for all kinds of wildlife, including crocodiles and plenty of different birds.

There is just a single-track road passing through the wetlands, with a carpark at the other end, and a double-storey hide overlooking a pond containing a croc.

Another great place resulting in another swathe of lifers for Jas and I.

Here's the birdlist.


Magpie Goose

Mamukala, Kakadu National Park

28th Sept 2008

Mamukala, what a place!! We were tipped off by the couple we met in Darwin Botanical Gardens about the Magpie Geese at Mamukala. So along the Arnhem Highway from Darwin to Kakadu, we saw the signs and immediately came off at this place. It was getting late in the day when we arrived, about 16:45, and the lighting was perfect for photographs, and to make it better, the hide was located on just the right side of the wetlands to get great views.

Bernie and Annie had mentioned that we might get to see a couple of million geese if we chose the timing right. Well, not sure about a couple of million, but there were certainly thousands in and around the lake. Quite spectacular to say the least. We were there just at the right time, as from about 17:30 onwards, the geese started to get a move on, and make their way to their roosting grounds, somewhere else, which gave us an opportunity to see the daily exodus from Mamukala.

The variety of birds at this location was astounding, given the density of birds fighting for space around the edge of the lake. It was really an avian airport. Squadrons of birds flying around, from Pied Herons, to Cormorants, to Whistling-Ducks. The views were literally jaw dropping as we were all amazed with the spectacle before us.

As light was fading fast, we headed off from Mamukala and onwards to our next destination. Gagudju.

Birdlist for Mamukala:


Blue-faced Honeyeater

Gagadju Lodge, Kakadu National Park

29th Sept to 2nd Oct 2008

In all the excitement of taking wildlife shots, I didn't get any photographs of the camp we stayed at during our time in Kakadu, the Gagadju Lodge at Cooinda.

To be frank, the accomodation was pretty basic, but it was clean, comfortable and cheap, and loads of fun. All 9 of us had 'cabins', not the 'log' type, but more the 'portacabin' type. At least the beds were comfy, the toilet block clean, and they had a laundry room and a kitchen for us to use.

We didn't spend too much time birding around Gagadju Lodge, but what we did see was great, such as the Channel-billed Cuckoo. Jas managed to get the White-browed Robin (be sure to check out her great photo too!!), but I was 'busy' at the time (too much Paul's Iced Coffee). One evening, while returning back to camp, Jas spotted a couple of birds running across the lawn, and it turned out to be another pair of Bush Stone-curlews. They are so funny to watch, very cartoon-ish. We also heard their call that evening, very shrill and spooky to hear. They appear to be nocturnal birds.

The birdlist for the lodge/campsite.


David Lai in Anbangbang

Nourlangie, Kakadu National Park

29th Sept 2008

We drove north east from Gagudju early morning, and reached Nourlangie (Anbangbang) at 07:30, finding the optimum parking space under the only piece of shade in Kakadu, although the shade only lasted a few minutes as the sun rose recasting the shadow from the adjacent tree allowing the Camry to bake once again.

A false sense of 'cool' was with us that morning as we walked into the Nourlangie park. It's effectively a massive rock, and contains cave-like orifices that were used in the past by aboriginals. One can also see cave-paintings

Cave Painting

Can you tell what it is yet?

As the sun rose higher, the temperature rose ridiculously and the climb up the hill was very tiresome, but we gladly did it.

The surroundings are very dry eucalypt forests and giant masses of red rock sticking out of the ground.

I can't believe I made it this far into the report without commenting on the flies. OH the FLIES!! These aren't your normal flies that you may find buzzing around your home, although you could be fooled into thinking they were one and the same. Oh no, these are relentless, persistent, untouchable little sh*ts, in great numbers too.

You're pretty well protected whilst in the car, but crack that door open an inch and wahey! you've got a fly on your face. Step outside the car, and you're being attacked by flies from all angles.

Now these flies do not hover around carefully so that they can choose a place to land, nope, these guys find their target and go straight for it. The target generally being the eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth.......and that's about it. Jasmine commented on how my nose hairs have grown so long overnight, I just shook my head in disagreement, gave a good snort and out came the flies. Just kidding.

Now the flies are not a phenomenon only found in Nourlangie. They were EVERYWHERE that WE were. We experienced a little bit of it in Darwin, but they really showed up in numbers the moment we got into Kakadu at Mamukala, and they were with us until we left Kakadu. So how did we cope? Well, while we were at Nourlangie, I spotted a park ranger having a quiet moment to himself, sat on a bench waiting for a group of tourists to show the cave paintings to. So anyway, I walked up to this chap, getting ready to ask him how does he deal with the flies, when he suddenly looked up, and his face appearing from beneath the brim of his wide hat, covered in flies. I figured it was pointless asking, as you simply forget about them after a while, after a long while.

Well, we couldn't wait so long and ended up getting some fly nets later that day in Jabiru town up north.

Anyway, the Nourlangie park was really quite interesting. The cave paintings have signboards which describe in quite good detail exactly what you're looking at.

In addition to the cultural aspect of Nourlangie, we of course spotted a whole load of birds, and we got close to some Wallaby's, which were lovely:

Wallaby

Such a cutie.

Well, here's the birdlist for Nourlangie:


Anbangbang Billabong

Anbangbang Billabong, Kakadu National Park

29th Sept 2008

We moved around the corner from Nourlangie to the Anbangbang Billabong at about 11:30am, savouring those few moments of air-conditioning from point A to B.

By this time, the temperature was up at around 39/40°C. The billabong was fairly full of water, and birds scattered all over the place. The tricky part was identifying them as through the scope, the heat haze was making it very difficult.

We had a couple of unexpected suprises, namely, the Black-fronted Dotterel, and the Red-kneed Dotterel. As you can see from the image above, Jas was doing her best to keep the flies out of her face by adopting the appearance of a bandit.

Jasmine using Scope

Birdlist for Anbangbang.


Burning Grasslands at Ubir

Ubirr, Kakadu National Park

29th Sept 2008

After getting thoroughly baked at Anbangbang Billabong, we headed up to Jabiru for lunch. Jabiru is a small town, which I can only assume exists due to the Uranium mining activity nearby. After a wholesome burger for myself, and Barramundy burgers for the rest, we headed up to Ubirr, another Aboriginal heritage site where one can see rock paintings. As with Nouralgie, the rocks at Ubirr clearly offer some form of protection from the hot sun. We walked around the area, and I took a climb up to the top of the rock to get the photograph above of the burning grasslands. The fires were apparently set ablaze on purpose, as the grasses are an introduced variety which suck up a lot of the water. The ranger informed me that it was much better than killing off with chemicals, which nobody can dispute, but at the same time, the burning releases tonnes of unwanted CO2 into the atmosphere, as if the surrounding forest fires don't do enough.

Interestingly, with the tall stacks of smoke billowing from the fires, you could see way off in the distance Black Kites circling around waiting for fleeing prey to emerge.

We caught site of a couple of Rock Wallabies foraging around for food. Quite small, and cute, with the bushy tufts at the tip of their tales.

Rock Wallaby

This stop wasn't so much a birding place, as a cultural experience, however, armed as ever with binoculars, we still managed to tot up a few species, with a couple of lifers.

Here's the list.


Cahill's Crossing

29th Sept 2008

Moving off east from Ubirr, we went to take a look at Cahill's Crossing. This is the eastern edge of Kakadu National Park, and the territory becomes Arnhemland, designated as a reserve for Aboriginals. There is a ford that crosses the river, but we daren't take the Camry's over. Proper 4x4 stuff, so we just had a walk around the area, didn't see too much, then headed off back towards our camp as it was getting late in the day, 17:00, and we wanted to take a look at Yellow Water at Cooinda, right near to where our camp was.

Birdlist for Cahill's Crossing includes another lifer!!


Crocodile

Yellow Water, Kakadu National Park

29th Sept 2008

While this was our first visit to Yellow Water, it was by no means the last. For the remaining duration of our stay in Kakadu, we found ourselves back here again many times as it was fantastic for all kinds of reasons. 1) The flies weren't as persistent, 2) it was close to camp and we could start/end our days there 3) great variety of wildlife, and simply a beautiful place to be.

On 1st October, Jas, myself, David & Nina went for a boat ride around the Billabong setting off at 06:30. It was a really intersting trip. The guide on the boat knew his stuff and we learnt quite a lot about Billabongs and the water system of the area in general. We also got up close to some great birds and crocs.

Magpie Geese at Yellow Water

Yellow Water produced the longest birdlist of any place we visited in Kakadu National Park, although the lifers aren't coming quite as thick and fast as they were at the start of the trip.


Barramundy Gorge

Barramundy Gorge, Kakadu National Park

30th Sept 2008

This place was simply great. We came off the Kakadu Highway and drove down a long dirt road passing through eucalypt forests to get to the end where we parked our cars.

While driving in, Seng's car in front had stopped and the car had emptied, with Aun-Tiah's scope already setup (we'd been getting another lifer of our own, a Varied Sitella). They were watching a Northern Rosella. So we stood around and watching him for a while before moving on.

Armed with little else besides a towel, we donned our swimming gear, then hiked our way along a trail that ran beside a river, onwards and upwards towards Barramundy Gorge.

David and I got a bit way-laid after being distracted by a pair of Rainbow Pitta's hopping around the path, then a posing Cormorant, and a few other distractions along the trail.

It seemed to go on forever when finally the trail opened up to a vacant oasis. Just a couple of other visitors there, who soon vacated after our arrival, we had the place to ourselves, it was sheer bliss.

Barramundy Gorge

Not forgetting that flies were still a persistant nuisance all the way along the trail, once we reached the gorge, I dumped everything and headed straight for the water. It was so cool as half of the lake was still in shade, so it was just wonderful to be out of the sun and the flies for a while. There were places where you can climb out of the lake and onto the rocks to sit and enjoy the place in peace. The waterfall provided a great soundtrack too.

After cooling off, some of us decided to head up to a higher pool by doubling-back along the trail we came in on, crossing the river, and up the other side. It was a steep climb in places but worth the sweat shed. There were two pools being fed by the river, but the pools weren't visibly connected. There is an opening about 8ft beneath the surface that connects the pool, and for those daring, you can swim underneath from one to the other. Both I and Seng managed it, although I have to say it's really quite dodgy. Getting close to being burnt by the sun, we headed back to the larger pool below and cooled off some more before heading back to the cars.

On our drive back to the Kakadu Highway, we just had to stop and have our photo taken alongside a Cathedral Termite Hill.

Check this out!!

Cathedral Termite Mound

It must have stood about 14-15ft high.

Well, of course, we spotted a few birds along the way, no sooner had we set off when a raptor was seen soaring above. Both cars ploughed to one side while we all shot out to check it out. It's easy to dismiss a soaring raptor as either a Whilsting or Black Kite, but it was good that we paid attention, as it was a lifer for us all (except Aun-Tiah), a Black-breasted Buzzard

Black-breasted Buzzard

Here's the full list of birds we saw while at Barramundy Gorge.


Whistling Kite having a crap

Mardugal, Kakadu National Park

30th Sept 2008

We arrived at Mardugal at about 17:45, the temperature was starting to cool off, now at around 37°C. Mardugal is located just a few minutes drive from Gagudju Lodge. Yet another place with the signboards warning us of the threat to our lives of wild crocodiles present in the area.

This was about the only time we ever had a group shot of all of us. I even had to photoshop Nina into the shot as she took this group photo.

Group Photo

Mardugal is another part of the waterway close to Yellow Water. We didn't stick around too long as I guess we were all pretty tired after another long day, although we did return again on 1st October where we were a bit more interested to see the birds. The total birdlist for both trips to Mardugal.


Jim Jim Billabong

Jim Jim Billabong

1st October 2008

We arrived at Jim Jim Billabong at around 16:00 that afternoon, having spent the first part of the morning at Mardugal, then Gagudju Camp.

We drove for a few km's down a dirt trail meant for 4x4's. The road was heavily rutted, but we managed to make our way to the end without a single scrape to the underside. I must say, we reached a point along the trail, where we figured, it's probably best to turn back, as it was getting a bit too risky. We did however stop to have a look around the small waterhole, without much success in spotting any birds, crocs or mammals. Here's the list, see for yourself.


Galah

Kakadu Highway

2nd October 2008

On the 2nd Oct, the time had come to sadly depart Kakadu National Park, so at 08:00 we departed our home for the past four days and headed south along the Kakadu Highway towards Pine Creek stopping off at various points along the way in search of more birds such as the Red-winged Parrot, which we successfully got.

The drive was fairly monotonous at times, with the occupants of our car fast asleep between stops. While the scenery is breathtaking, it is very similar all the way down the highway, and with such little traffic on the road to distract, it's quite easy to get tired, and fast. I was keeping track of Seng's car in front while always monitoring the verges, knowing that at any time, a Wallaby or Kangaroo could jump out at any time. And sure enough, it happened twice. One jumped out in front of Seng's car, which he just missed, and then it came at our car too!! A few kilometers down the road, it happened again, but this time, Seng had already gone past, and out the Wallaby jumped into the road. I slapped on the brakes and lost most of my Paul's Iced Coffee into the centre console. The car didn't seem to scare the Wallaby at all, it just kept on jumping towards the front of the car. I clipped it's tail just as we were stopping, so it was only a couple of mph and had no effect on the Wallaby at all. He just carried on going. Strange chaps.

We stopped of for some pie along the way before reaching Pine Creek for a mid-morning break and to get some more 'free coffee for drivers'. What a great idea that is!!

Filling up the Camry's

Photo by Nina Cheung

Here is the complete list of birds we saw while heading down the Kakadu Highway.


Pine Creek

Photo by Nina Cheung

Pine Creek

2nd October 2008

After this last stop, we pulled into Pine Creek for a looksee. Pine Creek is a gold mining town. Coincidentally, while we were in Australia that week, the mine went into receivership with a few million dollars worth of debt against them. Dotted throughout the town are remnants of the old days with steam-driven mining equipment scattered all around.

It was fun to sit down and watch this sleepy world go by. Little more than a post office, a mechanic, a fill-up station and a pub or two, all to keep the community rolling.

We took a good walk around the gardens in the centre of town in search of a specific parrot, but failed to find him, but we did get a great view of a Crested Pigeon perched on a wire as we were leaving town.

Birdlist for Pine Creek.


Litchfield Safari Camp

Litchfield Safari Camp, Litchfield National Park

2nd October 2008

From Pine Creek, we joined the Stuart Highway and headed back up toward Darwin, stopping off along the way in Litchfield National Park for 1 day, 1 night.

Before reaching our camp, we stopped off to admire the Magnetic Termite mounds. These amazing creations are built by termites with built-in magnetite, allowing them to build their mounds with flat-sides that face north/south to reduce the effect of the warming by the sun, allowing them to maintain better control of temperature inside their home.

These termites tend to live on flood planes.

Magnetic Termite Mound

Photo by Nina Cheung

Our first stop was to check in at the Litchfield Safari Camp, our lodgings for the night. The camp is fronted by a lovely chap called Dennis who was very helpful, and kind enough to let us refill our water bottles from his own filtered supply. He explained that the pipe was double-filtered water pumped up from the nearby creek. Given the high temperatures, we got through a lot of water each day, so we gladly returned to the front office that afternoon to refill all our bottles, only to find that one of the filters had been removed. We didn't give it any thought at all, until later that day, I went to drink from a bottle, only to find lots of algae floating around. Everyone checked their bottles and found the same.

Needless to say, the plants were well watered that afternoon.

The camp had a variety of accomodation types, but we chose the tents. These were really luxury tents with power-showers and ceiling fans. Plenty of ventilation too, and while it was hot when we went to sleep that night, the air sure cooled off during the night. It was absolutely lovely to hear all of nature throughout the night. Really outdoors feeling.


Wangi Falls

Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park

2nd October 2008

The following morning, we ventured out a little way up the road to Wangi Falls for a cool off in the pool, and had a good neck massage by sitting under the waterfall.

This little place was also great for watching nature, with trees full of Fruit Bats, and while swimming in the pool, Kingfishers zooming past your face. Great stuff!

Fruit Bats

For the remainder of our duration in Litchfield National Park, we spent our time birding, of course. Actually, the Camp where we stayed ended up being a pretty good spot.


Dirt Road

Photo by Nina Cheung

Berry Springs

3rd October 2008

I felt it was worth a mention in the blog here that we took the more interesting route out of Litchfield. We were faced with 2 choices, either to go back out to the Stuart Highway the same way that we entered the park, or take the dirt-road. As the rains had not yet started, we figured it was safe to use the 40km dirt road. It was quite wild. The wind blows the dust/sand into ridges making some very ripply driving for long distances. It was so soothing to hit the tarmac at the other end of the road, as the speeds we were doing on dirt weren't very high, and the 40km took close to an hour to cover.

Once we reached the tarred road, it was onwards to a public park known as Berry Springs.

Birding in Berry Springs

Photo by Nina Cheung

Berry Springs is a great place for the locals to go and unwind. There are barbeque pits, pools, springs and grass lawns for games etc.., of course, we weren't there for any of that, except to have a look around at the wildlife. We even managed to secure a Lifer here, the Large-billed Gerygone. We didn't hang around too long, as it was just a short stop while on our way to Howard Springs, but here's the short birdlist.


Wallaby

Howard Springs Nature Park

3rd & 4th October 2008

We arrived at 4pm for our first visit to the Howard Springs Nature Park. We were quite excited to be here as the Little Kingfisher has been reportedly seen at this park, but we had to return to camp empty handed. The bird count that evening was really quite good, but no lifers for us.

The treat for us at the end of the day was a Golden Tree Snake (Dendralaphis punctulatus) that flew down from one tree, shot across the ground in front of us and whizzed up a nearby tree.

Golden Tree Snake

The following morning, we returned to the park at 07:00 and as luck would have it, we got the Little Kingfisher, he was being hounded by a much larger Azure Kingfisher.

David and I sat patiently awaiting at a vacant perch that the Little King had been using, and decided to position ourselves well for a photograph when he returned. Having waited for about 10 minutes with no luck, I happened to look up to our right and noticed the Azure King perched patiently awaiting another attack on the Little King, should he return.

Well, he did and we got a few shots off. What a cutie.

Little Kingfisher

An interesting sighting made by the gang was of a pair of Forest Kingfishers working together to attach a Tree Termite Mound. The first Kingfisher would fly like an arrow at the nest, striking it with it's bill and chipping off some of the nest material, and the second Kingfisher would fly in to pick off any termites showing. Looks painful.

Forest Kingfisher attacking Termite Nest

Here's the birdlist for Howard Springs.


Carol on Rocks

Nightcliff, Darwin

4th October 2008

Well, back in Darwin again nearing the end of our holiday, we decided to try and cover all of the local major remaining birding sites in search of a few specific birds. Nothing special here at Nightcliff, but a pleasant change of scenery none-the-less, back by the coast again.

We managed to spot this Iguana amongst the rocks sunning himself, but once he'd spotted us, he moved off out of site for a while, only to pop his head above the rocks to see whether we were still there.

Iguana

Birdlist for Nightcliff.


Holmes Jungle Nature Park

Holmes Jungle Nature Park

4th October 2008

We arrived at the park at 16:45. Holmes Jungle Nature Park is perhaps a misnoma. Holmes Jungle Mosquito Park would be a little more fitting. We all managed to donate a lot of blood in the short trip to this park. I joke, but in fact, it was really quite an awesome place, with the most bizarre mix of forestry. Surrounded by dry scrub/forest, the small jungle area was quite tropical, which we are more used to seeing in Malaysia. No HUGE hardwood trees, but it felt more local to us. But the mosquitoes were really something. We started to get a bit fedup with them after a while as all our repellant was ineffective. By the time we'd done a loop of the park, we'd splatted so many mozzy's on our faces and clothes, that we were covered with black spots of mush where their bodies had been merged with our own blood.

Needless to say, with the speed we were walking through the park, we didn't see a lot of birds, although we grabbed a lifer on our way out, the Brown Goshawk (see photo using link below).

Here's the birdlist.


Eastern Reef Egret

Doctors Gully, Darwin

5th October 2008

Docs Gully was another early start as we headed there before sunrise. As luck would have it, there was a picnic table down by the water front which we spread our breakfast over and feasted while the sun came up. An interesting place is Doc's Gully. When looking into the sea, you can see remnants of the second world war, with parts of ships rusting away.

I believe from memory that Doctors Gully was an area for salvaged ships to be broken up. There was this guy who secured the rights to all of the wreckages and he sold them off to the breaker yards.

We had a great morning at the Gully. Almost a lifer, thinking we'd spotted a Diamond Dove, but turned out to be a juvenile Peaceful Dove. You'd think we'd learnt that one by now having so many Peaceful Dove's in Malaysia. Anyway, a pretty good selection of birds over breakfast.


Sadgroves Creek

Sadgroves Creek, Darwin

5th October 2008

Sadgroves Creek is a known location to find the Buff-banded Rail. We parked our cars across the road in the nearby housing area of Stoddart Drive and took a walk along the edge of the mangroves. We bumped into a couple of guys who'd spent the past 2 weeks looking for it, and they'd just managed to see it.

So we walked slowly and quietly along the path and finally spotted the little chap stalking his way through the undergrowth. Managed to get a bad photo of him, but spent a good bit of time watching him through the binoculars. Wow, it was really hot that morning, with no shelter from the sun, so we were glad to have seen the Rail, then headed straight back to the car for a nice bit of air-con.

Birdlist for Sadgroves Creek.


Bunker

Charles Darwin National Park, Darwin

5th October 2008

Charles Darwin National Park is a former military munitions storage facility, so there are a few bunkers remaining, one of which has been turned into a kind of museum with plenty of memorabelia on display.

Bunker Museum

We had a good look around the bunker, then drove on to the trails. Parked the cars then did a walk of about 1.8km around a loop. The birdlife wasn't bustling, but it was a pleasant walk none-the-less. No lifersCry, here's the list.


Royal Darwin Hospital

Royal Darwin Hospital, Darwin

5th October 2008

We were getting tired, and desperate, as our flight home was leaving at about midnight, and at 15:40, we arrived at the rear carpark at the Royal Darwin Hospital to do our last stint of birding for the whole holiday. It was quite a sad feeling, but our spirits lifted when we noticed the sign in the above photo indicating that there was a nudist beach just 800 metres away.

All we had to do was to walk through about 200m of scorched eucalypt woodland, and a further 600m along a boardwalk through some luscious mangrove and we would be there with the nudists.

Typical birders, we got quite distracted along the way. No sooner had we stepped into the eucalypt woodland did we notice 4 Brown Quails (our penultimate lifer for the trip) scurrying around in the long grass. They were really comical to watch as they did their best to remain unnoticed by us, by stalking their way slowly while under the cover of the long grass. But when they had to cross an open patch of land, they just legged it. Great birds, and I felt lucky to have got a shot or two.

Brown Quail

After this sighting, we headed over to a nearby creek and found some finches having a bath in the cooling water, a mix of Long-tailed Finch and Crimson Finch.

Crimson Finch bathing

Crimson Finch bathing

Long-tailed Finch drinking

From here, we trodded on down the boardwalk through the mangroves, and just before reaching the nudist beach, we were yet distracted again by another possible lifer. Yep, it turned out to be a Rufous-throated Honeyeater. Our final Lifer for our birding trip to the Northern Territory. I have to say it was our last lifer, as if you're anticipating a juicy ending to this report with sightings of lots of naked people laying on vast golden beaches, you'll be sadly disappointed.

We reached the sand bank after exiting the mangroves, climbed up on top only to find one of the greatest beaches I've ever laid eyes on, even though there was nobody there, except a couple of aboriginals sat beneath a tree (clothed). The beach was gorgeous.

The Nudist BeachI can only put the lack of people down to the fact that it was Box Jellyfish season, so no swimming allowed.

Nina spotted a Babbler in a nearby tree, but the rest of us couldn't find it. The only thing we got to see was a chap riding his bicycle along the boardwalk straight towards us, wearing nothing but a pair of sneakers. That's right, not even his underpants.

'So why isn't this a Lifer for you', I hear you ask. Alas, it's not the first time I've seen a guy naked riding his bicycle in public. No, this seems to be something you can find just about anywhere. The last time was 2002 in Cambridge, UK. I guess it was a Lifer for our Australian trip though.

We got a pretty good birdlist at this final destination.


Group Shot

Photo by Nina's Camera (self-timer, camera hanging on back of bedroom door)

Jasmine and I would like to express our thanks to all for such a great trip. Loads of great memories, and plenty of lifers!!

For a list of all the birds we've seen in the Northern Territory, click here.

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  1. Bukit Tinggi, Pahang, Malaysia
    on Sunday, 28th May 2017
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  2. Taman Negara, Kuala Tahan, Pahang, Malaysia
    on Thursday, 7th April 2016
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  3. Fraser's Hill, Pahang, Malaysia
    on Friday, 1st April 2016
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  4. Fraser's Hill, Pahang, Malaysia
    on Thursday, 15th October 2015
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  5. Taman Negara, Kuala Tahan, Pahang, Malaysia
    on Saturday, 4th April 2015
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  6. Bukit Rengit, Pahang, Malaysia
    on Sunday, 28th September 2014
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  7. Ulu Kali, Pahang, Malaysia
    on Sunday, 28th September 2014
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  8. Fraser's Hill, Pahang, Malaysia
    on Sunday, 31st August 2014
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  9. Minsmere Nature Reserve, Suffolk, United Kingdom
    on Tuesday, 5th August 2014
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  10. Maulden Woods, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom
    on Monday, 4th August 2014
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  11. Hutan Lipur Gunung Nuang, Selangor, Malaysia
    on Saturday, 26th July 2014
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  12. Fraser's Hill, Pahang, Malaysia
    on Tuesday, 15th July 2014
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  13. Pasoh Forest Reserve, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia
    on Sunday, 15th June 2014
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  14. Pasoh Forest Reserve, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia
    on Saturday, 14th June 2014
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  15. Bukit Tinggi, Pahang, Malaysia
    on Sunday, 27th April 2014
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We (Jasmine & John) are a pair of birders with a passion for photography, and for John, a bit of PHP/MySql web design programming to top it off.
We live in Malaysia which is where we do most of our birding, but as you can see from this site, we do branch out further afield occassionally.
Besides birds, we also do our best to identify much of what we see, especially mammals.
From a photography perspective, we also do our best to adhere to good ethics, by ensuring we cause as little disturbance to the lives of the subjects we observe.
We don't use flash photography (since deciding to stop using it in 2007), for several reasons. The first, we don't want to cause unnecessary stress to the birds (although it's not proven to cause stress, we just don't do it), and secondly, the available light with a Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens, makes the flash obsolete in almost all cases where handheld shots down to 1/40s can still produce crisp well-lit images. The image stabilizer is simply superb. Thirdly, flash photographs make the plumage look a very unnatural colour and can require a lot of processing in photo-editing software to naturalise the effect.
All photographs of wildlife on this site have been taken in the wild. No captives here.
This site serves as our list and photo repository, of which we are willing to share with you, and hope that you find it useful and occassionally entertaining.
Many thanks for stopping by.

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