COLUMBIDAE - Darwin and Kakadu 03/10

March 17, 2010 — March 23, 2010

Jack , Karen and Bill booked cheap Jetstar flights to Darwin in 2009 for a quick trip to visit Kakadu NP at the end of the wet in March 2010. The primary targets were to be pigeons. Karen needed Chestnut-quilled Rock-Dove and both Jack and Karen wanted Banded Fruit-Dove and Partridge Pigeon. All were seen well along with lots of new reptiles, dragonflies and butterflies as well as  2 new frogs. Outstanding places to visit included Nourlangie Rock and the near by Gubara Rock Pools in eastern Kakadu near the township of Jabiru.

 CSA2  Paradise Lost

This morning we slept in and afterwards went shopping for wet-weather gear for the Heard Island trip later in the year. At around 1pm we met up with Heather at the Queensland Museum to drop off a dead White-throated Nightjar. We then went into where all the wildlife skins were and saw such extinct birds as Paradise Parrot and Huia. We had dinner at Karen’s and stayed there the night.

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 Nanny D

This morning we got up at around 6am at Karen’s House. After we slowly got ready, we headed through the new Clem7 tunnel through to a café where we met Fluffy John for breakfast. After catching up for a while we left for our Jetstar flight up to Darwin. We arrived in Darwin at 3pm Brisbane time not Darwin time. After some confusion we went down to Buffalo Creek while Biggles dropped off some people at the airport. Half an hour here produced Red-headed Honeyeater, Rufous-banded Honeyeater, Yellow White-eye, Large-billed Gerygone, Azure Kingfisher as well as some waders further out (Common Sandpiper 2, Grey-tailed Tattler 6, Common Greenshank 1, Whimbrel 2, Eastern Curlew 6, Bar-tailed Godwit 3, Great Knot 4, Greater Sandplover 20). We soon got a call from Biggles and we went out and met him at Leanyer Sewerage Works. As soon as we entered we saw large numbers of Pied Herons (50) and White-winged Black Tern (250). Other good birds here included; Eastern Yellow Wagtail (11), Radjah Shelduck (30), Wandering Whistling-Duck (10), Grey Whistler (1) along with large numbers of all the normal birds. We then said goodbye to Biggles who had to fly out to Tasmania that night. From here we went over to Quality Frontier hotel for the night. Here we had dinner also – barramundi.

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 Good to be red-faced

This morning we got up before the sun at the Quality Frontier to the sound of Green-backed Gerygones, northern Double-barred Finch and Rufous-throated Honeyeater. Unfortunately we could not find any gerygones for Karen and so we had breakfast and headed towards Kakadu. Along the Arnhem Hwy we sadly found a dead male Rufous Owl by the side of the road. Other birds here included; Varied Lorikeet, Brush Cuckoo and nesting White-gaped Honeyeaters while we fixed a car fuse.  From here we drove along until we reached Marrakai Track. Here we spent about 2 hours searching unsuccessfully for Chestnut-backed Button-quail. The grass appeared too long and thick for them except for right on the road verges. At the start of the track (a good gravel road) we had good views of Zitting Cisticola and an Australian Hobby. Sightings further down the road included Varied Lorikeet, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher and Yellow Oriole. We then left after our first dip for the trip. The next stop was during the middle of the day at the Bird Billabong carpark. Here Karen had her first Masked Finch. On the drive out from Bird Billabong we had a large flock of birds with all appearing to be chasing insects. These included; Little Eagle (1), Whistling Kite (14), Black Kite (6), Australian Hobby (1), Dollarbird (4), Rainbow Bee-eater (2) and White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike (1). We then left and arrived at Jabiru at around 2:30pm. Here we checked into Kakadu Lodge and went out to the Lake and did the walk around it. Highlights here were; Bar-breasted Honeyeater, Yellow Oriole and Barking Owl. When we were about to get back into the car we met two German birders who had seen Partridge Pigeon at the Visitor Centre; we were out there in 5 minutes. We walked around the Bowali Visitor Centre for a while seeing a single Orange-footed Scrubfowl. When we got back in the car, Dad was just saying that we might have to actually work to see this pigeon when a PARTRIDGE PIGEON walked up to the car almost saying ‘who me?’. It seemed determined to cross the carpark and we were directly in its way so it walked under-neath the car. They are a magnificent pigeon with a stunning red face. The mainly brown colour is very nice with the standout white shoulder. After this we went back to the lodge and had dinner around the pool. A Bush Stone-curlew was also seen there.

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 Walloped a Scalloped

This morning we got up before the sun and got ready to spend the morning at Nourlangie Rock. On the way an interesting sighting was a dingo with some grey around its muzzle.It is unusual fro wild dogs to live anywhere near as long as domestic dogs. The target of the morning was Banded Fruit-Dove which is semi-reliable at this site. After walking around the tracks for a while a single Banded Fruit-Dove flew past. Unfortunately I didn’t get onto it well enough to tick it but it was definitely a Fruit-Dove. Other good birds here were; Chestnut-quilled Rock-dove (1), Sandstone Shrike-thrush (2), Silver-crowned Friarbird (breeding and 2) and White-lined Honeyeater (breeding and 20). We didn’t see the fruit-dove again here and so we left this site at around 9:15 after spending 2 hours there. From here, we then went to Nawurlandja which is very close to Noulangie Rock. This walk goes up onto the escarpment so it gives you a good chance with some sandstone specialties. Here we had fantastic views of 2 Chestnut-quilled Rock-doves, Banded Honeyeater, Great Bowerbird and a single Sandstone Shrike-thrush. After this morning Karen had got 5 new birds which moved her list to 636. On the drive back we also saw a few Partridge Pigeons. We then went back to the Lodge and had a long swim. A 2 hour sleep then happened and we woke up ready to chase some Button-quail. On the way we stopped at the Jabiru Sewerage Works and saw Radjah Shelducks (8), Wandering Whistling-Duck (4), Plumed Whistling-Duck (5) and Australasian Grebe (4). There were a few Partridge Pigeons in this area on the roads also. Unfortunately the road to Ubirr was closed which apparently has Red-backed and Red-chested around the campgrounds. The road was flooded at Magela Creek so we birded around this area. There were lots of Masked Finches (20) as well as Shining Flycatcher, Olive-backed and Yellow Oriole and Varied Lorikeet. It was now getting late so we went back to the lodge and had dinner around the pool again. A pair of Barking Owls were seen in a fig tree also.

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 Landed a Banded

This morning we again got up before the sun and packed our bags and had breakfast. We then drove out of Jabiru seeing a Jabiru (Black-necked Stork). Our site for this morning was Gubara Water Hole. The entry to this site is about 9km down the road into Nourlangie Rocks. It is a 3.5km walk to Water Hole from the carpark. Birds  on the walk in included Green-backed Gerygone, Northern Fantail and Rainbow Pitta (heard), Little Kingfisher (heard). I also saw a single BANDED FRUIT-DOVE fly by which gave good views. They are a medium sized pigeon with a very white head with a strong black cut-off and black throughout the rest of the body. Once we got to the water hole it was very refreshing swimming with the freshwater fish with 2 Merton’s Water Monitors watching over us. We sat watching the water monitor for about 10 minutes and when we moved it immediately went and fell asleep on the log we were sitting on. When we were about to leave we had great views of 2 flying Banded Fruit-Doves. It was amazing as we had spent a while at the rock pool looking at the figs with no luck when we saw a single one moving. It then flew and had another one chase it away immediately.  After this success we headed south towards Pine Creek. On the walk out we also had a single Oriental Cuckoo fly across the track. We arrived at Pine Creek at about 1pm and had a works burger a Mayse’s café where we had previously visited. After checking out some of the normal haunts for the Hooded Parrots we were unsuccessful. At Copperfield Dam there was also a pair of Northern Rosellas. While we were at the lookout Dad got checked out by the police after we had been driving slowly around town looking into peoples gardens for the Parrots. We headed north with no Hooded Parrots but the policemen did say that large numbers fed in the water gardens at dawn and dusk. On the drive to Darwin we added Red-backed Kingfisher and Black-faced Woodswallow to the trip list. We arrived in Darwin at around 6pm and stayed at Freespirit Caravan Park (which is about 20km south of Darwin). After unloading the bags and having a shower we went out to have dinner at Stokes Warf. Unfortunately all of the gulls have gone to their roost site but there was a Crested Tern. We all had a barramundi dish for dinner (there wasn’t exactly any choice!).

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 Pain in the neck

This morning we got up just after 4am to catch a plane to Brisbane. Karen’s neck was sore and she needed pain killers. We think that she hurt herself whilst tossing around , snoring her head off each night. While we spent a long 4 hour flight with screaming babies behind us we had good views of the now lush central and Western Queensland. We arrived in Brisbane at around 10:15am.

I would like to thank Bill and Karen for an amazing trip, Biggles for taking us around Darwin and for birding sites, birding-aus contributers for some birding sites.

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Simon Mustoe on March 29, 2010 about COLUMBIDAE - Darwin and Kakadu 03/10

Hey Jack, Another great trip report. Thanks for your efforts. Shame about the Rufous Owl. A better view than my last attempt though - I've only ever heard them.

Written by

Jack Moorhead

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