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Gavin Bieber on his recently completed tour to Western Australia and Northern Territory

November 13: Gavin Bieber on his recently completed tour to Western Australia and Northern Territory

We spent the first week around Perth and the southwest corner of the country. A wetland park in central Perth provided our first waterbirds, including a very approachable Yellow-billed Spoonbill, a fine Buff-banded Rail and a roosting family group of Tawny Frogmouth.

The drier forests around Dryandra and the Stirling Ranges were very productive, with repeated views of Carnaby’s (Short-billed) Black-Cockatoos and the aptly named Splendid Fairy-Wren.

The gorgeous coastline near Cheyne’s Beach was our backdrop for several days, where we managed especially good views of Brush Bronzewing and all three of the coastal heathlands infamous skulkers.

Leaving the temperate SW corner behind we traveled to the heart of the country around Alice Springs where stunning desert landscape hosted an array of fantastic species such as the comical Spinifex Pigeons, charismatic Dusky Grasswren and intricately patterned Western Bowerbirds, here seen in mid display at a bower in the botanical gardens. 

Our second week covered the tropics of the Top End around Darwin and the outpost town of Kununurra, near the East end of the Kimberley Mountains.  These diverse habitats yielded aremarkable array of birds and mammals and the humid and comparatively lush lands surrounding Darwin seemed especially stuffed with new birds.  Waterbird concentrations were excellent, with hundreds of Magpie Geese surrounding the remaining patches of water and waiting for the arrival of the rainy season.  Rainforest patches around Darwin hosted gorgeous and somewhat approachables Rainbow Pittas, and in the Botanic Gardens we located both Barking (below) and Rufous Owls on day roosts.

Kununurra had the feel of a real outback town, with isolated and very beautiful grottos, and almost comically swollen Baobab Trees dotting the savannahs.  Although it was very dry this year, we still found 10 of 11 species of finches possible in the area (including the fabulous Gouldian (below) and the scarce Yellow-rumped Mannikin), and the day trip out to Lake Argyle went extraordinarily well, with dozens of Yellow Chats, a few White-quilled Rock Pigeons and tame Short-eared Rock Wallabys. 

We wrapped up the 17 day itinerary back in Darwin, with an amazing 325 species seen!

Since my camera failed early in the tour, I owe thanks to my co-leader Tim Dolby and especially Bob Pease (Bush Bronzewing,Rainbow Pitta, and Yellow Chat) for the use of their images.

Posted: November 13, 2017