Darwin Sept 2006 Bird Watching Trip ReportAuthor: Carl from Pahrump
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Date of Trip: September 2006
When it got light on Aug 31 we went on a birding hike in the Holmes Jungle Reserve behind the cottage. We saw heaps of birds, including Crimson Finches, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets, and 100's (maybe 1000's) of circling Black Kites. When we came home we saw the Pheasant Coucal that lives on the property.
Just before sunrise on Sept 1we left to walk to the nearby Knuckey Lagoon and wetlands about 2 Km away. It took us a long time to get there because of all the new birds we saw along the way. We saw 25 birds this morning, including a pair of giant Brolgas flying, a Jabiru, a pair of Galahs, a Masked Lapwing, and several Double-barred Finches.
Later in the morning Christie gave us a tour of the Darwin waterfront. Our best find was Ginger Beer -- it tastes just like the ginger candy you can get at Chinese grocery stores.
In the afternoon we swam in the B&B pool, and watched the birds come to the birdbaths. We saw a Blue-winged Kookaburra and Silver-crowned Friarbird in the trees by the cottage. We also saw a White-bellied Sea-Eagle fly over twice.
We decided to take it easy on Sept 2. We still saw three new birds including the Brahminy Kite, Yellow Oriole, and Little Friarbird just after sunrise. In the afternoon a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo came to the birdbath. For supper Christie fixed BBQed domestic rabbit, Water Buffalo, and Buffalo sausage served with spicy rice and salad. We had never eaten any of it before. Everything tasted really good, but the sausage was hot and spicy.
About 7am on Sept 3 we went out the back gate of the cottage for a walk in the Holmes Jungle Reserve. Over the next 3 hours we covered 5Km. We saw 20-birds types including a Pied Heron, Olive-backed Oriole, Zebra Finch and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. We saw several flocks of Little Corellas squawking as they circled around us. At one point the trees on a distant hillside were covered with Little Corellas and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos with a tornado of Black Kites and Whistling Kites circling overhead.
Mid-day we headed off to the Sunday Rapid Creek Oriental Produce Market with Christie. There is large SE Asia emigrant population in Darwin and it seemed they all must have been here selling fruit, veg, and cooked food. We bought some raw sugar, Thai Spring Rolls, Green Papaya Thai Salad, and Jack Apples (looked like an apple but inside it was more like Rambutan). We also got a papaya & banana milk shake.
We stopped at the regular grocery store on the way home. We bought some Dittol & baby oil, and a spray bottle to make insect spray. Dittol is a common antiseptic over here that comes from England. You mix equal parts of Dittol and baby oil and spray it on to keep the flies and mossies (mosquitoes) away. Works good, and it is good for you. However, it is messy to apply and tends to get all over your clothes, so it is best to put it on before you get dressed.
Before we left for Dinner we saw our first amphibian -- a medium sized frog on our patio. We told Paul and Christie about it at dinner. They said they would have to catch and freeze it - since it was a Cane Toad. Cane Toads are poisonous if eaten by a dog or birds (only Crows know to flip them over on their back and just eat the stomachs). They can kill a 13-foot croc in 2 days.
It is traditional in Australia to have roast on Sunday. We had a beautiful pork roast with potatoes broiled in olive oil and herbs, and a mixed green salad. For dessert we had Pavlova (baked meringue) with heavy cream (Dollop) and fruit on top.
We got our rental car on Sept 4 in downtown Darwin. We didn't have much trouble driving it, but I tended to turn on the windshield wipers when I wanted to use the turn signals. The traffic was lite so I didn't have much problem with the traffic circles.
We went grocery shopping in the afternoon. We got bacon to make biscuits and gravy. Australian bacon is a lot meatier than what we buy in the US. We also got free-range eggs.
Late in the afternoon we drove to Knuckey Lagoon to see water birds. We saw lots of birds, but most were pretty far away. Then we met Bob, a retired birder from Mt Isa, who had a 60-power spotting scope. He spotted the birds and helped us identify them. He said it brings him good luck to help people find birds because he invariably finds new birds that way. Sure enough, we helped him find an Australasian Grebe. We also saw a Magpie Goose, a Straw-necked Ibis, some Pacific Black Ducks and some Wandering Whistling-Ducks.
For dinner tonight Paul fixed his signature spaghetti sauce with linguine dish. We had toasted bread with olive oil, tomatoes, and cheese for starters, and finished with Pavlova with some Kings Island Chocolate Cream Sauce. Great stuff!
We got to the public part of Holmes Jungle about 7am on Sept 5. We birded till Noon and saw 30 different bird type including the Emerald Dove, Mistletoebird (a.k.a. Flowerpecker), Nankeen Night-Heron, and Northern Fantail. The Flowerpecker is a small, strikingly beautiful bird with red on the throat and red in the butt.
In the afternoon we found our first green toad in the wash sink. They live in the water system here and are harmless, but they can scare the crap out of you when they croak while you are using the toilet.
In the late afternoon Christie arranged for us to visit a private farm (12.427 S 130.945E) adjacent to Knuckey Lagoon to see a pair of Bush Stone-Curlews with their chicks. But first we had a guided tour of the Lagoon by the owner. We saw the endangered Jabiru (Black-necked Stork), some Jesus Birds (Comb-crested Jacana), a Green Pygmy-goose, and a Sacred Kingfisher. A large flock of Wandering Whistling Ducks flew over followed by an even bigger flock of Pied Heron.
The Comb-crested Jacana is referred to as the Jesus Bird because it can walk on water. We had never seen one before. This place must be like Heaven to them because we saw over 40 of their little red crowns bobbing across the water.
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