Inala Pilbara & Shark Bay - Western Au - Ancient Landscape, Birds & Mammals ( Optional Whale Shark Excursion ) 17 May - 1 June 2024

Grey-headed Honeyeaters - Alfred Schulte - Inala Nature Tours
Grey-headed Honeyeaters - Alfred Schulte - Inala Nature Tours
Tour date: 
Friday, 17 May 2024 to Saturday, 1 June 2024
16 days
AU$13,000 twin share. Single Supplement: AU$1,630 /Whale shark extension AU$645 twin share. Single supplement: AU$75.

Join us on an extensive and thorough tour of this vast region, taking in a wide variety of habitats such as spinifex-covered ranges, rocky gorges, mangroves, mulga and extensive mudflats. The scenery throughout the Pilbara and Shark Bay regions is incredible, and of course there is some unique wildlife. Targets include Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Western Grasswren, Striated (Pilbara) Grasswren, Western Bowerbird, Grey-headed Honeyeater, Black-chinned (Golden-backed) Honeyeater, Grey Honeyeater, Spinifexbird, Rufous Fieldwren, Dusky Gerygone, Spinifex Pigeon, Flock Bronzewing, Mangrove Robin, Mangrove Golden Whistler, White-breasted Whistler, Painted Finch and with a bit of luck – Grey Falcon. Mammals feature as well and we will be target Red Kangaroo, Common Wallaroo (Euro), Black-flanked Rock Wallaby, Rothschild’s Rock Wallaby, Dugong, Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Finlayson’s Cave Bat, Kaluta and Pilbara Pebble-mound Mouse. The Pilbara also contains some of the world's oldest surface rocks, including granites that are over three billion years old ancient fossilised remains of stromatolites (the earliest fossil evidence of life on earth), and aboriginal rock art. And we cannot forget the famous Red Dog, whose statue we will also visit on this tour.

We are also very excited to visit world-famous and spectacular Shark Bay region which includes a trip to Dirk Hartog Island (seldom offered on itineraries due to the difficulty of organising logistics) where we will search for specialities such as the black and white form of White-winged Fairywren and the isolated Dirk Hartog subspecies of Southern Emu-wren and Western Fieldwren. We also have the chance to see the range-restricted Western Grasswren.

Start Location: 
Exmouth WA
Finish location: 
Exmouth WA

Inala Pilbara & Shark Bay, Western Australia Tour
Ancient Landscapes, birds and mammals

Pilbara Tour 17th May - 1st June 2024

Join us on an extensive and thorough tour of this vast region, taking in a wide variety of habitats such as spinifex-covered ranges, rocky gorges, mangroves, mulga and extensive mudflats. The scenery throughout the Pilbara and Shark Bay regions is incredible, and of course there is some unique wildlife. Targets include Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Western Grasswren, Striated (Pilbara) Grasswren, Western Bowerbird, Grey-headed Honeyeater, Black-chinned (Golden-backed) Honeyeater, Grey Honeyeater, Spinifexbird, Rufous Fieldwren, Dusky Gerygone, Spinifex Pigeon, Flock Bronzewing, Mangrove Robin, Mangrove Golden Whistler, White-breasted Whistler, Painted Finch and with a bit of luck – Grey Falcon. Mammals feature as well and we will be target Red Kangaroo, Common Wallaroo (Euro), Black-flanked Rock Wallaby, Rothschild’s Rock Wallaby, Dugong, Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Finlayson’s Cave Bat, Kaluta and Pilbara Pebble-mound Mouse. The Pilbara also contains some of the world's oldest surface rocks, including granites that are over three billion years old ancient fossilised remains of stromatolites (the earliest fossil evidence of life on earth), and aboriginal rock art. And we cannot forget the famous Red Dog, whose statue we will also visit on this tour.

We are also very excited to visit world-famous and spectacular Shark Bay region which includes a trip to Dirk Hartog Island (seldom offered on itineraries due to the difficulty of organising logistics) where we will search for specialities such as the black and white form of White-winged Fairywren and the isolated Dirk Hartog subspecies of Southern Emu-wren and Western Fieldwren. We also have the chance to see the range-restricted Western Grasswren.

Itinerary OUTLINE:
Day 1. Fri 17 May 24. Arrive Exmouth.
Day 2. Sat 18 May 24. Exmouth area.
Day 3. Sun 19 May 24. Exmouth to Onslow.
Day 4. Mon 20 May 24. Onslow to Karratha.
Day 5. Tue 21 May 24. Karratha area.
Day 6. Wed 22 May 24. Karratha to Port Hedland.
Day 7. Thu 23 May 24. Port Hedland to Tom Price.
Day 8. Fri 24 May 24. Tom Price area.
Day 9. Sat 25 May 24. Karinjini National Park, Tom Price.
Day 10. Sun 26 May 24. Tom Price to Carnarvon.
Day 11. Mon 27 May 24. Carnarvon to Denham.
Day 12. Tue 28 May 24. Dirk Hartog Island.
Day 13. Wed 29 May 24. Shark Bay area.
Day 14. Thu 30 May 24. Shark Bay to Carnarvon.
Day 15. Fri 31 May 24. Carnarvon to Exmouth.
Day 16. Sat 1 June 24. Optional extra Whale shark excursion or depart Exmouth.
Day 17. Sun 2 June 24. Depart Exmouth (for those joining Whale shark excursion).

B- breakfast, L- lunch and D-dinner.

Day 1. Arrive Exmouth.
Make your own arrangements to arrive at Exmouth (Learmonth) airport today. Most flights pass through Perth and the best flight based on the current 2022 Qantas timetable is QF1602 PER-LEA departing Perth at 07:00 and arriving Exmouth at 09:00-flight not included in price). After lunch and settling into our accommodation, there will be an opportunity for those who are keen for some birding around town. The most obvious birds will be species like White-plumed Honeyeater, Yellow-throated Miner, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Torresian Crow, Zebra Finch, Brahminy Kite and Rainbow Bee-eater. There should be Banded Lapwing on the main oval or golf course and possibly Emu.  With some luck we’ll be able to locate a small party of Rufous-crowned Emu-wrens at North West Cape. Upon our return this evening we will have a welcome dinner and chat about the tour.
 Accommodation: Exmouth (en suite rooms). Meals included: L, D. 

Day 2. Exmouth area.
Today we will explore the peninsula around Exmouth and the Cape Range and start with a visit to the mangroves at Turquoise Bay and Yardie Creek. Birds include a chance of the mangrove species like Mangrove Golden Whistler, Mangrove Fantail and Dusky Gerygone. Nearby we’ll look for Rufous Fieldwren, Western Bowerbird (Cape Range ssp), Grey-headed Honeyeater, etc.  and we will try hard for Rufous-crowned Emu-wren in Cape Range NP.  We should get good views of Black-footed Rock Wallaby, plus the very reddish-looking western morph of Euro. Red Kangaroo are also in the area. Perentie (Varanus giganteus) would be the main reptile target but quite a few other reptile species are possible. The afternoon can be spent closer to Exmouth at the harbour, sewage ponds, golf course, etc.  We will have dinner in town and then check the roads again after dark for nocturnal critters. 
Accommodation: Exmouth (en suite rooms) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 3. Exmouth to Onslow (325kms)
We will head away from the North-west Cape region today and move north-east to Onslow. Near Onslow we will be looking for Flock Bronzewing, Painted Finch, possibly Pictorella Mannikin, Brolga, Black-necked Stork and a variety of water birds. En route we will look for Spotted Harrier, Australian Hobby, Budgerigar, Cockatiel, Rufous Songlark, Brown Songlark and Horsfield’s Bushlark. If the Grevillea wickhami is in flower then Crimson Chat, Black Honeyeater, Pied Honeyeater, Black Honeyeater and Masked Woodswallow. 
Accommodation: Onslow (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 4. Onslow to Karratha (260kms).  
Near Karratha we will stop at a place on the Nullagine River hoping for Barking Owl, Brown Quail, Blue-winged kookaburra, Pictorella Mannikin and Pheasant Coucal. During the late afternoon we will check in to our accommodation in Karratha. Accommodation: Karratha. (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 5.Karratha area.
Point Samson & Cossack areas north of Roebourne for mangrove species including Mangrove Robin, raptors, reptiles, etc. after which we’ll head out to the Burrup Peninsula on dusk to look for Rothschild’s Rock Wallaby, Spotted Nightjar and Finlayson’s Cave Bat emerging from caves for their night.
Accommodation: Karratha (en suite cabins) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 6.  Karratha to Port Hedland (300kms).
Before breakfast we’ll check out the town oval and racecourse at dawn. At Six Mile Creek we’ll look for shorebirds out on the mudflats and mangrove specialties such as Mangrove Golden Whistler, Canary White-eye, White-breasted Whistler, Dusky Gerygone and Bar-shouldered Dove. From outside the fence of the South Hedland Water Treatment Plant we will see a selection of waterbirds. In the afternoon we can check out the De Grey River area or a bit of woodland along Quartz Quarry Rd for woodland birds. If we’re up for a bit of spotlighting after dinner we’ll look for owls, mammals and reptiles. We will also visit Back Beach to check for some shorebirds (including a chance of Beach Stone-curlew) and then the wastewater treatment plant (Painted Finch, some waterbirds, Horsfield’s Bushlark, maybe Brown Quail) before travelling through Roebourne heading for Port Hedland. We will stop briefly en route to look for Painted Finch, Spinifex Pigeon and Grey-headed Honeyeater coming into some leaking water. We will also stop at the Sherlock River where we should find 40 or more species with good chances of Painted Finch, Black-tailed Native-hen, Red-kneed Dotterel, Brolga, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Red-browed Pardalote and Brolga. Our destination this evening is Port Hedland. 
Accommodation: Port Hedland (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 7. Port Hedland to Tom Price via Munjina (410kms).
We’ll leave Pt Hedland and head inland this morning. Along the way we will check any ephemeral pools, or pools in creeks to look for Painted Finch, Spinifex Pigeon, Red-browed Pardalote, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Diamond Dove, Crested Bellbird and nomadic species such as Budgerigar, Cockatiel, and Pied & Black Honeyeaters, etc. We will have lunch at Munjina before heading to some mulga country in search of Grey Honeyeater, Spinifexbird, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren and a chance of Striated (Pilbara) Grasswren.  
Accommodation: Tom Price (en suite cabins).  Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 8.Tom Price area.
This morning we will explore the Mt Nameless area, where a very early start is required to find the target - Striated (Pilbara) Grasswren in the extensive stands of Spinifex of this area. Also here are Spinifexbird, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Black-chinned (Golden-backed) Honeyeater, Grey-headed Honeyeater, Grey-fronted Honeyeater, Western Bowerbird, Spinifex Pigeon, Australian Ringneck (smaller form in the Pilbara) and Little Woodswallow plus others such as Brown Quail, Common Bronzewing, Hooded Robin, Purple-backed Fairywren and Western Gerygone.  At some point we will visit Kings Lake to look for a variety of species including Star Finch, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Mistletoebird, Crimson Chat, Black-tailed Native-hen, etc. We will also check the Tom Price Water Treatment Plant. In the afternoon we have the option to visit scenically beautiful Hamersley Gorge and nearby woodland and creek-lines, where we will try for all the key targets. We will spotlight in the evening (or one of the evenings) for Spotted Nightjar. 
Accommodation: Tom Price (en suite cabins) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 9.  Karinjini National Park. Tom Price. 
We will spend a full day visiting most of the gorges in Karajini NP which contains but some habitat for birds such as Grey Honeyeater, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Black-tailed Treecreeper, White-winged Fairywren and Redthroat,
Accommodation: Tom Price (en suite cabins) as for last two nights. Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 10. Tom Price to Carnarvon (660km).
Today is mostly a travel day, as we have a long drive to return to Carnarvon, but there will be opportunities for birding along the way. Raptors are always possible, and we’ll keep an eye out for species like Australian Bustard, Spotted Harrier, Australian Hobby, Square-tailed Kite, Black-breasted Buzzard and the exceedingly scarce Grey Falcon. In the afternoon we’ll arrive in Carnarvon.
Accommodation: Carnarvon (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 11.Carnarvon to Denham (330kms).
We will bird around the Carnarvon area this morning where our main target will be Slender-billed Thornbill.
We will also visit the mangroves and mudflats near town to look for Dusky Gerygone, White-breasted Whistler, Mangrove Fantail and shorebirds such as Lesser Sand Plover, Eastern Curlew, Great Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey-tailed Tattler, Terek Sandpiper, and maybe Broad-billed Sandpiper. Common Redshank and Asian Dowitcher have been occasionally recorded here. Wetlands and the sewage treatment plant in town may yield birds like Musk Duck, Red-kneed Dotterel, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Hoary-headed Grebe. After lunch we’ll hit the road again, making our way to Denham and our accommodation for the next three nights.
Accommodation: Denham (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 12.  Dirk Hartog Island.
Today we are booked on a boat trip out to the remote Dirk Hartog Island, where we will take part in a guided tour for the morning exploring the southern part of the island. In the sand dunes and coastal scrub, we’ll look for the range-restricted Black & White form of White-winged Fairy-wren (ssp. leucopterus), the Dirk Hartog Southern Emu-wren, (ssp hartogi) and the Dirk Hartog Rufous Fieldwren (ssp hartogi). Whilst on the boat we will also have our best chance to see Dugong in the sea-grass meadows of the sheltered waters around the island, as well as Green & Loggerhead Turtles, Eastern Osprey, White-bellied Sea-eagle and a number of terns and shorebirds hopefully. Lunch will be included on the tour, after which we’ll head back ashore and bird the area again for the remainder of the day. 
Accommodation: Denham (en suite cabins) as for last two nights. Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 13. Shark Bay area.
Today we’ll explore the fascinating Shark Bay region, including the coastal town of Denham, Peron Peninsula and the famous Monkey Mia. Here we’ll have a great chance of seeing the range restricted Western Grasswren, as well as getting up close and personal with Inshore Bottlenose Dolphins.  Other birds here in the coastal shrublands and shoreline include Emu, Rufous Fieldwren, Southern Scrub-robin, White-browed Babbler, Crested Bellbird, Pallid Cuckoo, Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, Black-eared Cuckoo, White-backed Swallow, Pacific Gull, Eastern Reef Egret, Fairy Tern and Eastern Curlew. Malleefowl has been re-introduced into the area as well. Terrestrial mammals feature well in the region, with several successful re-introduction programs having taken place. Species such as the Greater Bilby, Brush-tailed Bettong (Woylie), Rufous Hare-Wallaby (Mala) and Banded Hare-Wallaby have been re-wilded in the Francois Peron National Park but we are unlikely to see them as access is not possible after dark. 
Accommodation: Denham (en suite cabins) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 14. Denham to Carnarvon (330kms).  
Today we will bird our way back to Carnarvon. We will visit the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool. Orange Chat has been seen in the samphire near the caravan park and there is an excellent area of mulga at the turnoff where we will look for Crested Bellbird, Red-capped Robin, Hooded Robin, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Inland Thornbill, Southern Whiteface, Slaty-backed Thornbill, Mulga Parrot, Bourke’s Parrot, Chiming Wedgebill. This is the northern limit of Dusky Woodswallow, Australian Raven and Western Yellow Robin and we will look for Little Buttonquail. Closer to Carnarvon we will search for nomadic birds such as Orange Chat, Pied Honeyeater, Black Honeyeater, White-fronted Honeyeater and Masked Woodswallow.
Accommodation: Carnarvon (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 15. Carnarvon to Exmouth (365kms).
This morning we will get an early start looking for woodland birds east of town with the possibility of Bourke’s Parrot, Black-tailed Treecreeper, Black-eared Cuckoo, White-plumed Honeyeater, Hooded Robin or Spinifex Pigeon there in eucalypt woodland and adjacent shrublands. We can look for birds at their northern limit such as Silvereye and Dusky Moorhen. We will then head north, returning to Exmouth for our last night.
Accommodation: Exmouth (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 16.Optional extra Whale shark excursion or depart Exmouth.
Tour ends after breakfast today. For those on the main tour only, own arrangements for today, a chance for some final self-guided birding around Exmouth this morning before heading to the airport to meet your flight (current Qantas schedule (subject to change) QF1601 Exmouth to Perth 12:50-14:35).

We are excited to offer the option of including a Whale shark swim today (full day tour with lunch and transfers from the hotel). An extra night in Exmouth is included in the package and  you can book your return flight 3 June.
Accommodation: none or Exmouth (en suite rooms) if joining the Whale shark excursion. Meals included: B, (L for those on Whale shark excursion).

Day 17.  Exmouth and depart (for those joining the Whale shark excursion).
Own arrangements for meals, activities and transfer to airport today. (Current Qantas schedule (subject to change) QF1603 Exmouth to Perth 15:15-17:05).
Accommodation: None. Meals included: None.


Group size: 3-4 people with one specialist Inala driver guide or 6- 8 people with 2 driver/guides. 

Tour Price 3 participants per vehicle: AU$13,000 twin share. Single Supplement:  AU$1,630

Tour Price 4 participants per vehicle: AU$11,725 twin share. Single Supplement: AU$1,630

 Price includes: 15 nights’ accommodation, specialist guide and transport, meals, entrance fees and activities as mentioned in the itinerary and GST (based on current rate of 10%). Also includes ferry fare, local guides, transport, and lunch on Dirk Hartog.

Price does not include: Airfares, Whale shark swim, gratuities, alcoholic beverages, snacks, internet, laundry, or other items of a personal nature.  

Optional Whale shark excursion and accommodation package: AU$645 twin share. Single supplement: AU$75.

Price includes: Whale shark swim full day trip, lunch, hotel transfers and accommodation for 1 June.

Price does not include: dinner 1 June or breakfast 2 June.


The itinerary: Whilst we aim to follow the itinerary as planned, please note that the itinerary provided should only be used as a guideline.  Depending on individual trip circumstances, weather, and local information, the exact itinerary may not be strictly adhered to.  The guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary as they see fit.

Remoteness: Please note that for much of this tour we will be birding in a wonderful yet remote part of Australia. Some of the roads are unsealed and rough and travel will be in 4WD vehicles. If you have medical conditions or health concerns, it is important you make us aware of these in advance of this tour. This doesn’t necessarily preclude you. We just need to be well-informed.

Luggage: We won’t have a huge amount of room for lots of luggage on the trip and will need to restrict the luggage to one soft sided duffle bag 2-3 ft long or similar per person plus a day pack/camera/binoculars etc that can be carried in the vehicle with you. We are trying to avoid hard sided suitcases which don’t pack well in the back of 4WDS. We’ll need to carry other stuff like water which I think is more important than too many clothes.

Additional accommodation in Perth: We can also organise accommodation in Perth at the start and finish of each section of the tour as required. Please enquire about pricing.

Click here to view an online doc with answers to all the most frequently asked questions about Inala Small Group Tours

Pilbara Trip Report  Including Shark Bay Extension
18thMay to 1st June 2022 (15 days)

Trip Report compiled by Tour Leaders: Frank O’Connor & Steve Davidson

The Pilbara region of Western Australia has a very interesting mixture of habitats, hosting a diversity of birds, mammals, reptiles, frogs and butterflies that are different to most areas that people visit. The habitats vary from coastal mudflats and mangroves, open low scrub, riverine and river pools, spinifex, ranges, pastoral, town ovals and water treatment plants. May was supposed to be after the wet season, but there had been considerable rain which restricted the trip to some extent.

We saw in 185 species and heard a few more, plus we saw separate sub species for four species.


Wednesday 18th May.
First birding stop Exmouth Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). We saw Australian Hobby, Silver Gull, Crested Pigeon, Welcome Swallow, Australian Pipit, Singing Honeyeater, Magpie-lark, Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Australasian Grebe, Masked Lapwing (5), Pied Stilt (4), Grey-tailed Tattler (1), Black-fronted Dotterel, Caspian tern, Pied Butcherbird, Little Corella, Yellow-throated Miner. A Long-nosed Dragon and a Lesser Wanderer were seen. At the North West Cape, there were Greater Crested Terns, Brown Noddy (1), Australian Pied Oystercatcher (2) and the highlight was a Roseate Tern in breeding plumage. Only Frank saw an Australasian Gannet plunge dive well offshore. We had our first looks at a Rufous Fieldwren from the car park, plus an Eastern Osprey flew over. We then looked for Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Steve heard them and then we had good looks at a pair. An obliging Rufous Fieldwren then sat on top of a dead stick and sang and gave great views. We walked back to the cars and stopped as Steve heard more emu-wrens and we had even better views of a second pair of Rufous-crowned Emu-wren. 

After dinner we drove back to the Mildura Wreck lookout to look for reptiles or mammals spotting a Dingo, a Rabbit, a flat Spinifex Hopping Mouse and a calling Northern Trilling Frog.

Thursday May 19th.
We then headed for Cape Range NP. A few stops for birds (nothing significant) before our first main stop at Mangrove Bay. A Bar-shouldered Dove on the road in. A Rufous Fieldwren near the car park. We then looked for the mangrove birds. Success with Mangrove Fantail and Dusky Gerygone. Brief views by some people of Canary White-eye. Frank heard a Mangrove Golden Whistler. On the drive out the first car saw a Buff-banded Rail in the middle of the road! Crazy. We tried for Spinifexbird near the turnoff but no luck.

We continued to the Milyering Discovery Centre. We confirmed that the crows were Little Crows. No Western Bowerbird. A couple of butterflies. Caper White and Satin Azure. Lesser Wanderers were seen in small numbers for most of the day. We stopped for two Common Wallaroo. We got to Yardie Creek and walked along the trail. Eastern Reef Egret, two Black-flanked Rock Wallabies, a small colony of Black Flying Fox, Eastern Osprey, Brahminy Kite, some more Wedge-tailed Eagles. No bowerbird. But as we walked back a Western Bowerbird flew past us. We had lunch at Yardie Creek. Packed lunches worked very well. We started making our way back to Exmouth. We stopped for a Little Eagle. We briefly called in to Turquoise Bay. On the way out there was some good looking spinifex. So we tried for Spinifexbird. No luck. We tried again near the turnoff. No luck. But then Steve heard one in the distance. We walked back and it was at the previous stop. We tried and then had excellent views of a Spinifexbird! A real bonus! Bird of the day!

The next stop was near the naval base where Steve spotted some flowering eucalypts with a few flowering grevilleas. The honeyeaters were active. Mostly White-plumed Honeyeater and Singing Honeyeater, but also Yellow-throated Miner, Brown Honeyeater, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (2+), a brief view of a female Black Honeyeater and a semi distant view of a female Pied Honeyeater. A Pallid Cuckoo was heard. A Crested Bellbird was seen well.

We returned to the hotel and some of us went to look for quail. A big surprise was a small flock of Star Finch (10+). We did see a Brown Quail very well. Some Zebra Finch were added to the bird list. Another Pallid Cuckoo was heard.

Friday May 20th.
A quick stop to refuel and then we headed south, stopping as needed. A Spotted Harrier that disappeared somehow. We turned east on Burkett Road. We stopped for large numbers of Budgerigars. We saw Rufous Songlark, a distant Australian Magpie, Black-shouldered Kite and then great views of a Black-eared Cuckoo. We stopped for better looks of Spotted Harrier, Diamond Dove and Black-faced Woodswallow.  A female Australian Darter circled overhead. A Torresian Crow was seen and heard. At a wetland we saw Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal, Hardhead and Eurasian Coot. Some Star Finch, Zebra Finch, Spotted Harrier, Black-shouldered Kite, Australian Hobby, White-winged Fairywren, Brown Songlark, Rufous Songlark and scope views of the rufous Pilbara form of Horsfield’s Bushlark. We scanned an area of samphire for Orange Chat but no success. We stopped at an extensive area of water where Steve found Whiskered Tern and an Australian Pratincole. We reached Onslow and saw White-breasted Woodswallow and Sacred Kingfisher. We tried to find an area of mangroves on the east side of town. There were some on the other side of a creek, but we could not see any mangrove species. A few of us went out after dinner for 45 minutes. Slim pickings but we had two quick views of a Spotted Nightjar.

Saturday May 21st.
We first went to the creek with mangroves. We added Striated Heron and a White-necked Heron (poorly seen flying away). We had lunch with the bonus of a pair of Pheasant Coucals. We then went to the wastewater treatment plant. Fantastic views of a Red-backed Kingfisher, good views of three Spinifex Pigeons and views of a Western Bowerbird. At the ponds we added Pink-eared Duck to the list. We checked in to our rooms. Later we headed to Dampier, stopping at the Red Dog memorial. We then returned to Murujuga NP and Ngajarli Gorge. We looked at the rock art and had sensational views of a Spinifexbird. We then walked into the gorge. It was harder going but Cyril spotted a Rothschild’s Rock Wallaby. We had excellent scope and walk away views. We returned to the accommodation.

Sunday May 22nd.
We headed to Point Samson and Johns Creek Boat Harbour. The tide was out. Many Sacred Kingfishers. Then success with a male White-breasted Whistler. We heard Mangrove Robin, but it was a no show. We walked further along and found a Torresian Kingfisher. We then had great views of the opthalmicus sub species of Sooty Oystercatcher,  Eastern Reef Egret plus a Great Egret.

We stopped at a good patch of mangroves. Success as Elisabeth was the first to spot a Mangrove Robin, and then a second one. A Grey-headed Honeyeater briefly perched on top of a mangrove. Crazy! We went back to Roebourne and headed east, stopping for Spinifex Pigeon and Horsfield’s Bushlark. At a nearby river, we did add Australian Pelican, Maned Duck and Little Pied Cormorant to the bird list. The next stop was lunch at Whim Creek, we had a Grey-headed Honeyeater fly off, and some more Spinifex Pigeons, we saw a Red-browed Pardalote in poor light, plus a female White-winged Triller flew past.

We then drove to the South Hedland, good numbers and variety of birds. The new birds for the list were Red-necked Avocet, Red-capped Plover, Red-kneed Dotterel and Red-necked Stint (Frank only). There were large numbers of Grey Teal, Pied Stilt and Masked Lapwing. Good numbers of Hardhead and Pink-eared Duck. We walked out to the overflow pond. We quickly heard a Baillon’s Crake, and then an Australian Crake, but neither showed. Australasian Swamphen was seen. A large flock went up that most consisted of Straw-necked Ibis and Pied Stilt, but also included Australian White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, White-faced Heron, Red-necked Avocet and Whiskered Tern. We then drove to Port Hedland, but stopped on the way for Australian Gull-billed Tern. We checked in, and then went to Six Mile Creek. We heard a Mangrove Golden Whistler, but the best view we got was a very brief glimpse as it flew across a gap.

Monday May 23rd.
Leaving Port Hedland we headed south on the Great Northern Highway. At a Rest Stop we saw Weebill and a juvenile Red-browed Pardalote. We tried a couple of patches of mulga with a spinifex ground cover. It looked like perfect grasswren habitat, but no success. Rufous Whistler was added to the trip list. During a break in the rain we took a walk and added Grey Butcherbird and Little Buttonquail to the trip list. A Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater was seen fairly well. We continued and stopped for a Pallid Cuckoo. We ended up seeing three. The rain returned and we headed for Tom Price.  One guest had a Desert Tree Frog in his room. 

Tuesday May 24th.
We went to the Mt Nameless Walk Trail and slowly walked up the hill to the first level. Grey-headed Honeyeater was common as well as Little Woodswallow. We saw a male Hooded Robin and quick views of a Striated Pardalote. Steve heard the grasswren, but we couldn’t locate it. We tried on the other side of the track and quickly located a group of three. We had many very quick views. We saw a distant Peregrine Falcon flying above the ridge. We returned to our cabins for morning tea, and then went to Kings Lake where we saw Western Gerygone, Mistletoebird, Australian Reed Warbler and Intermediate Egret. Then we head fantastic extended views of a Blue-winged Kookaburra. Western Bowerbirds and Torresian Crows were feeding in a fig tree. Butterflies were Lesser Wanderer, Caper White, Lemon Migrant and Two-spotted Line Blue. We returned to Tom Price for lunch, and on the return to our accommodation a quick stop  produced Grey Teal, Eurasian Teal, Hardhead and a Black-fronted Dotterel. After lunch Slaty-backed Thornbill was seen very well,  Inland Thornbill was imitating one of the Grey Honeyeater calls and a possible Western Quail-thrush was flushed. Other birds included White-winged Fairywren, Rufous Songlark and Crested Bellbird.

Wednesday May 25th.
We went to the eastern entrance to Karajini NP and stopped at an area of mulga with lots of mistletoe. But no Grey Honeyeater or anything new. Collared Sparrowhawk was seen. The next stop was Dales Gorge and Fortescue Falls. Stunning scenery but not much in the way of birds. We then drove across to Weano Gorge and Hancock Gorge. More amazing scenery.We spotted a Painted Finch. Identifiable views but not the best. But shortly after two more flew in and gave fantastic views. Amazing that these were the first for the trip. After lunch we headed back towards Tom Price and stopped in an area of good mulga. Almost immediately we had a GREY HONEYEATER! And then a second! Excellent views. A very tough bird to find in the Pilbara. We headed out to the other side of Mt Nameless, we failed to find our target of Black-chinned Honeyeater. We saw a Spinifexbird and heard several more. Then Steve heard a grasswren. Some anxious moments trying to find where it was, and then it sat up and stayed for several minutes. An amazing view of a RUFOUS (Pilbara) GRASSWREN. We backed off to the other side of the road and it came out to the edge of the vegetation along the road. Not often you get Grey Honeyeater and Rufous Grasswren in the same day! 

Thursday May 26th.
We headed to Nanutarra. The country looked in great condition. We agreed that the habitat looked good for Quail-thrush, and not long after one flew across the road! Steve located the male singing in a dead tree, and the female quickly joined it. WESTERN QUAIL-THRUSH! On the checklist but not expected.  Further on we stopped for a male Hooded Robin. In addition there were many Spinifex Pigeons, Redthroat, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill and White-winged Fairywren. We thought that a small dragon was a HAMERSLEY PEBBLE-MIMIC DRAGON but photos later showed it was a juvenile Ring-tailed Dragon. Barbara also found a Bynoe’s Gecko. The next stop was for a Black Honeyeater that was calling but we didn’t see it. Chiming Wedgebill was also calling but stayed hidden. We did see White-browed Babbler. Steve found a female Ring-tailed Dragon, and also a Central Military Dragon. We stopped at a rest area and had very good views of two Red-browed Pardalotes. Frank saw a couple of Common Grass-blue butterflies. We stopped for another Western Netted Dragon on the road allowing for excellent photographic opportunities. We also stopped for a Sand Goanna. We stopped for two Black-breasted Buzzards. Along Burkett Road the Budgerigars became more common and then we hit the motherlode! An estimated minimum of 5,000 Budgerigars in the area. We made it to Exmouth checked in. A long drive, but a great day.

Friday May 27th.
We headed south towards Minilya Roadhouse. We stopped a few times. One stop was for Red-kneed Dotterel (9), Red-capped Plover (10) and Black-fronted Dotterel (2). There was a Spotted Harrier just before the roadhouse. We stopped for a Chiming Wedgebill and hit a hot spot. Masked Woodswallows passed overhead (50+). Crimson Chats (20+) were in the area. We found a group of five Chiming Wedgebills. We couldn’t get to Bibbawarra Bore and Miaboolya Beach due to large pools of water over Bibbawarra Road. We had lunch at Chinaman’s Pool. A Little Black Cormorant flew past. There were two Australian Shelduck at the Carnarvon WWTP. There were four Australian Pelicans at the mouth of the Gascoyne River. The best site was at Pelican Point. A number of Lesser Crested Terns amongst the Greater Crested Terns. Three Pacific Gulls. A small flock of Grey-tailed Tattlers (16) plus a few Bar-tailed Godwit (8). A large flock of Little Black Cormorant (420+). Our first Pied Cormorants. A Mangrove Fantail and 20+ Canary White-eyes. 

Saturday May 28th.
It had rained overnight and there were some showers in the area. We went to New Beach and quickly found a Slender-billed Thornbill and had another view of a Rufous Fieldwren. We hit a patch of birds on the road out. Grey Fantail, Red-capped Robin, Splendid Fairywren and Spotted Scrubwren . We stopped at a few places as we headed towards the Overlander Roadhouse. White-backed Swallow was the highlight. And finally some Emus. Some more Crimson Chats. And some more Chiming Wedgebills. Lunch at the roadhouse and then we headed towards Hamelin Pool. A couple of stops before we found a bore. A Little Buttonquail was flushed. Amazingly a female Western Whistler was seen briefly. A family of White-winged Fairywrens. Chestnut-rumped Thornbills. Very large numbers of Two-spotted Line-blue butterflies. On the road into Hamelin Pool we saw a female Pied Honeyeater and several White-fronted Chats. We walked down to see the stromatolites but it was high tide, and the boardwalk was badly damaged and out of action. Walking back to the car park we saw a pair of WESTERN GRASSWREN. We also had great views of a Black-eared Cuckoo, several Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoos, and brief views of a White-fronted Honeyeater. 

Sunday May 29th.
A windy day (about 20 knots) and cool. This made birding difficult. A Rufous Fieldwren as we drove back down to the main road. We went to Monkey Mia. Quiet around the car park with two White-browed babblers being the best.  We decided to walk the trail. Spotted Scrubwren showed despite the wind. We had quick looks at a pair of Western Grasswrens. Then good views of a Southern Scrub Robin. The track had changed from when I was last here. More babblers and scrub robins on top of the hill. A Black-eared Cuckoo. We followed the trail and came out on the beach near the sand spit. Five Fairy Terns were a good addition to the list. Some more Lesser Crested Terns. We returned to the dolphin viewing.  About 12 seen.  We then went to the Peron Homestead. Fairly quiet in the wind. We added Common Bronzewing to everyone’s trip list. A Chiming Wedgebill showed fairly well. Some more White-browed Babblers. We returned to Monkey Mia for lunch, then went to the creek leading into the lagoon. Some White-winged Fairywrens but no male. We went to the beach and saw Great Knot (4), Bar-tailed Godwit (3) and Red-capped Plover (3). Six Pacific Gulls. We tried the waste refuse facility but no corvids and hence no ravens. We then called it a day with the wind. A spectacular sunset.

Monday May 30th.
The trip to Dirk Hartog Island. We left the commercial jetty at 07:00. The forecast was windy with 20 knots. The crossing was roughly an hour. A slightly wet landing stepping ashore. A coffee at the café, and then we headed for the south end of the island and Surf Point. We saw Steep Point across the channel. A Green Turtle and a Loggerhead Turtle were seen briefly. The westerly most point of mainland Australia. The targets were three Dirk Hartog endemic sub species. The first was Rufous Fieldwren, with very good views for most people. We started back and stopped at about 10km to the homestead. Steve heard Southern Emu-wren. Most people saw the male briefly, but the wind meant that the birds did not want to show. We finally moved on. The next stop was at about 6km to the homestead. Steve heard a fairywren and most of had good but brief view of the male black and white sub species of White-winged Fairywren. The wind again played havoc and the fairywren did not want to sit up. We had views of two pairs of Purple-backed Fairywrens. Despite great persistence we could not get better views of the emu-wren or the fairywren. The wind definitely did not help. Two Silvereyes were seen briefly. After lunch back at the café, we reboarded and made our way back to Denham. On the crossing we saw 14 Wilson’s Storm Petrels. We made a quick recce trip to Fowlers Camp Road for Banded Lapwing (no success) and Eagle Bluff and Eagle Lagoon for Rock Parrot (no success although it definitely looked possible). We returned to Denham and four of us took the sunset cruise. A pleasant trip, although cold at times in the wind. But not very successful with two Wilson’s Storm Petrels, one very brief view of a Green Turtle and a very brief view of a Loggerhead Turtle that we didn’t get on to.

Tuesday May 31st.
Some rain overnight. We left Denhamand headed towards Hamelin Pool. There was light rain for much of the way. We stopped to look for Orange Chat. Steve heard a quail-thrush. It wasn’t long before we had extended views of a female COPPERBACK QUAIL-THRUSH. The male was also seen foraging. A real bonus for the trip. At another stop we saw male White-winged, Splendid and Purple-backed Fairywrens, plus White-winged Triller. At another stop we had brief views of a pair of Western Grasswrens. On the way into Hamelin Pool we saw the White-fronted Chats again. We revisited the stromatolites and this time the tide was low and we could see them well. We had another look for Orange Chat without success. We stopped and found a lot of activity but mostly White-winged Triller, Black-faced Woodswallow, Crimson Chat and Chestnut-rumped Thornbill. Lunch at Overlander Roadhouse. We stopped on Carbla Station. Another flock of White-winged Trillers. We finally saw Southern Whiteface. A few White-fronted Honeyeaters flew over. We continued on. There were two Australian Shelduck on the pool that had Red-capped Plovers three days earlier. We stopped for a break on New Beach Road. We stopped at a wetland on the way to Carnarvon. Australian White Ibis, Straw-necked Ibis, White-faced Heron, Maned Duck and then a Royal Spoonbill landed followed by a Glossy Ibis. 

Wednesday June 1st.
The news overnight was that our Qantas return flight was delayed by nearly four hours. So we l used the xtra time to visit a large pool on the Gascoyne River. A Red Kangaroo crossed the road on the way in. There were a few waterbirds. We walked almost a kilometre along to the left through habitat that looked very good for our target bird – Black-tailed Treecreeper. But no success. A Brown Goshawk was seen. Blue-winged Kookaburra were heard on the other side of the river. We upgraded our views of White-necked Heron and Australian Ringneck. There were ten or more Black-faced Cuckooshrikes. Back at the cars while we were having a snack, a Collared Sparrowhawk flew past. We headed back slowly to the North West Coastal Highway. Nothing on the pools of water but we did see small numbers of Masked Woodswallows regularly and a Red-backed Kingfisher. Heading north on the highway we came across a large flock of about 150 Masked Woodswallows, with a few Cockatiels and Crimson Chats. After lunch at Minilya Roadhouse we saw an Australian Hobby harass a Peregrine Falcon. Fascinating to compare the two species together. We stopped again for a Red-kneed Dotterel, about 22 Red-capped Plover, eight White-faced Herons, a Little Egret and we heard a distant Stubble Quail. We had almost reached Learmonth Airport when we stopped for an injured snake on the road. A Reticulated Whipsnake. There was also a sick (envenomated?) Leopard Ctenotus beside the road. And then an Australian Bustard was seen. A great finish to the trip … Not quite, as we approached Exmouth, we found two adults and two half grown Banded Lapwing chicks. 

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