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Darwin Sept 2006 Bird Watching Trip Report

Author: Carl from Pahrump
Email: carlball@yahoo.com (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: September 2006

In 2006 and 2007 we spent 255 Days driving around Australia. We started in Darwin, drove south to Alice Springs, backtracked to Cairns, went down the East Coast to Rockhampton, cut over to Melbourne, went across the Nullarbor Plain to Perth, drove up the West Coast to Broome, and finished by crossing the Kimberely Region on our way back to Darwin -- 24,000 miles & 6 rental cars. Along the way we stayed in 56 cities and saw 693 bird species/subspecies.

This Trip Report covers the 28-days we spent in Darwin. Some of the nature areas we visited were:

Nature Area Lat & Long Bird Billabong 12.706S 131.630E Buffalo Creek & Lee's Point 12.330S 130.896E Djukbinj NP 12.694S 131.370E Fogg Dam 12.562S 131.302E Holmes Jungle 12.416S 130.941E Howard Springs Nature Reserve 12.456S 131.052E Knuckey Lagoons 12.426S 130.938E Litchfield NP 13.054S 130.905E Nightcliff Foreshore 12.382S 130.841E Scout Hall Paperbarks 12.430S 130.959E Territorial Wildlife Park 12.709S 130.997E

If you put these coordinates into Google Earth, you can see the locations I am discussing. Typically, there will be lots of pictures as well.

The top birding areas where: Location Bird Species Fogg Dam 73 Territorial Wildlife Park 68 Buffalo Creek & Lee's Point 59 Holmes Jungle 57 Grungle Downs B&B 48 Knuckey Lagoons 47 Bird Billabong 42 Howard Springs Nature Reserve 35 Djukbinj NP 29 Nightcliff Foreshore 25 Litchfield NP 23 Scout Hall Paperbarks 24 Total 178

All these parks are within an easy drive of Darwin. Fogg Dam is about a 35-minute (30 mile) drive. The Bird Billabong (Wetland) is the furthest at 60 miles.


We spent 28 nights at the Grungle Downs B&B (www.grungledowns.com.au 12.417S 130.938E) on the outskirts of Darwin. We reserved the 2-bed room cottage with air conditioning and a full kitchen. The owners, Paul & Christie, didn't cut down any of the native Paperbark, Eucalyptus, and Magnolia trees. That really helped to bring in the birds to get the fruits and berries. We would typically see about 20 birds at the B&B every afternoon.

When I was planning the trip we decided not to get a car till we had adjusted to the time difference. For meals, we arranged to eat with the owners. On the first night we had breaded veal cutlets, mashed potatoes with parsley, and cauliflower & carrots in a cheese sauce. We ate outdoors on a large wooden circular table with a "Lazy Christie" in the center. These people are wonderful cooks! We ate and talked till 10pm. We didn't have dessert, but Christie had made me a blueberry pie with almonds to take home. After a few nights of meals like this, we decided to have all our dinners with Paul and Christie.

Highlights of the Region:

Sunrise and birding at Fogg Dam -- so many birds circling around and calling.

Seeing a tree top covered with Gouldian Finches at the Bird Billabong, and later in the day seeing Masked, Long-tailed, Black-throated, Double-barred, and Crimson Finches on the ground.

australian pelicans buffalo creekSeeing the vast sandbar at Buffalo Creek during low tide with a flock of white Australian Pelicans in the distance holding their beaks up in the air like flags.

Seeing thousands of migrating shore birds at Lee's Point during the 8 meter Spring Tide.

Getting Thai Spring Rolls and Papaya & Banana Milk Shakes at the Sunday Rapid Creek Oriental Produce Market.

Special Comments:

Our flight from Columbus, Ohio to Los Angeles to Sydney to Alice Springs to Darwin was 12,000 miles - thank goodness for frequent flyer miles and first class seats. We arrived in Darwin on time at 7pm on August 29, 2006. We took a taxi to Grungle Downs. The owners, Paul and Christie, had bought some initial groceries for us. We had a ham sandwich on great multigrain bread, and crashed for the night.

rainbow bee eaterWe got up at 5am on Aug 30 to the sounds of calling birds. When the sun came up about 7am we headed out to see some birds. We walked around the property and found 12 birds, including an Orange-footed Scrubfowl, a Rainbow Bee-eater, a Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, and some Yellow Figbirds. It was really dry in Darwin - the last rain was in April. The owners of the B&B had birdbaths situated around our cottage that drew in the birds, especially in the afternoon. We could sit on the side of the cottage and watch a constant procession of birds come to the baths. They also had numerous flowering plants (a.k.a. pot plants), many in large containers, for the honeyeater birds.

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