Top End Tour 22-30 June 2019

Barking Owl - Alastair Newton - Inala Nature Tours
Barking Owl - Alastair Newton - Inala Nature Tours
Tour date: 
Saturday, 22 June 2019 to Sunday, 30 June 2019
Duration: 
9 days
Price: 
AU$5,250 per person sharing, single supplement AU$900
Highlights: 
Abundance of wildlife in Darwin and surrounds including Dingo. Enjoy Kakadu’s vast wetlands. Gouldian Finch and Yellow Chat. Visit the Kimberly including Lake Argyle.
Overview: 

This tour goes off the beaten path to unveil the riches of Northern Australia, including Kakadu and the Kimberley. Some of our most sought after birds, including Gouldian Finch and Grey Falcon, inhabit some of our most stunning landscapes; join us for this unbeatable journey across Australia’s Top End!

This tour concludes in Kunanarra on the 30th June, allowing you plenty of time to make your own way back to Darwin and attend the 2019 Australian Ornithological Conference (AOC) on the 3-5th July. Please get in touch for any further details.

NEXT TOP END TOUR
10th-19th July 2018 (Two Spots Left)

Start Location: 
Darwin NT
Australia
Finish location: 
Kununurra NT
Australia

Inala’s Top End Tour: Birds and Wildlife of Kakadu and the Kimberley

ITINERARY OUTLINE:
Day 1. Sat 22 June 2019. Explore Darwin area
Day 2. Sun 23 June 2019. Darwin to South Alligator, Kakadu
Day 3. Mon 24 June 2019. South Alligator to Cooinda, Kakadu
Day 4. Tue 25 June 2019. Kakadu to Pine Creek
Day 5. Wed 26 June 2019. Pine Creek to Timber Creek
Day 6. Thu 27 June 2019. Timber Creek
Day 7. Fri 28 June 2019. Timber Creek to Kununurra
Day 8. Sat 29 June 2019. Kununurra
Day 9. Sun 30 June 2019. Kununurra and depart

This tour concludes in Kunanarra on the 30th June, allowing you plenty of time to make your own way back to Darwin and attend the 2019 Australian Ornithological Conference (AOC) on the 3-5th July. Please get in touch for any further details.

DETAILED ITINERARY:
B- breakfast; L- lunch; D-dinner
Day 1. Saturday 22 June 2019. Darwin and surrounds.

The tour will start in Darwin this morning. Darwin is surrounded by a fantastic diversity of habitat types that we will spend the day exploring for a range of interesting birds and mammals. Mangrove and monsoon forests are especially rich, hosting an impressive range of possible highlights includes the elusive Chestnut Rail, Orange-footed Scrub-fowl, Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, the striking Rainbow Pitta, Forest Kingfisher, Red-headed Myzomela (Honeyeater), Mangrove Robin, Green Oriole, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Green-backed Gerygone, Spangled Drongo, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Great Bowerbird, Pheasant Coucal, Pied and Silver-backed Butcherbird and Red-collared Lorikeet. Little Red Flying-fox and Agile Wallaby are possible mammal highlights.
Accommodation: Darwin (en suite hotel room). Meals included: L, D.

Day 2. Sunday 23 June 2019. Darwin to South Alligator (Kakadu).
This morning we start the day with a visit to Fogg Dam. This well-known site is an excellent area for waterbirds including Magpie Goose, Green Pygmy-goose, Pied Heron, Glossy Ibis, the stately Brolga, White-browed Crake and the quirky Comb-crested Jacana. En route to Kakadu we will enjoy a stop at the Adelaide River crossing for lunch where we may see Mangrove Golden Whistler and a variety of flycatchers like Shining, Restless and Broad-billed Flycatchers. On arrival in Kakadu we will take a short walk to local lagoon to enjoy sunset. After dinner, if time permits, we may do some spotlighting for nocturnal species such as Barking Owl, Tawny Frogmouth, Large-tailed Nightjar and Australian Owlet-nightjar.
Accommodation: South Alligator (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 3. Monday 24 June 2019. South Alligator to Cooinda (Kakadu).
This morning we will make a stop at the impressive Mamukala Wetlands where, if conditions are right, we can enjoy thousands of birds of many species. Plumed and Wandering Whistling Ducks, Radjah Shelduck, Black-necked Stork, Magpie Goose and Green Pygmy-goose are possible highlights. After this there is an option to visit Ubirr, a site of rock outcrops in Kakadu that is home to some impressive aboriginal rock art. The art depicts creation ancestors and animals of the area, including several fish and turtle species, wallabies and possums. In the late afternoon, Short-eared Rock Wallabies may be seen emerging from their shelters. Species we may enjoy at several other short stops today include Sandstone Shrike-Thrush, Chestnut Quilled Rock Pigeon, Partridge Pigeon (red eyed form) and Rufous-throated Honeyeater.In the afternoon we will enjoy a cruise on the Yellow Waters Billabong, Kakadu’s best-known wetland. This impressive wetland of channels, swamps and floodplains is a delight to explore and is home to crocodiles a-plenty and a variety of waterbirds including Nankeen Night-heron, Black-necked Stork, Little Kingfisher, White-bellied Sea-eagle and Purple Swamphen. The stately Great-billed Heron and Black Bittern may also be seen as might the rare Black Falcon. In the early evening we will check in to our accommodation.
Accommodation: Cooinda (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 4. Tuesday 25 June 2019. Cooinda to Pine Creek.
This morning we will make an early visit to Nourlangie Rock where we have a reasonable chance of seeing the range-restricted Black Wallaroo, Banded Fruit-dove, White-lined Honeyeater, Little Woodswallow, Black-tailed Treecreeper and Helmeted Friarbird. We will then enjoy a last look around Kakadu before making our way out of the park and south west towards the Pine Creek area. We will be sure to stop for any new birds and mammals on the way.
After checking in to our accommodations we will visit a dam where we may see Gouldian Finch. We may also opt for stops at the Water Gardens and the Old Cemetery where Red-winged Parrot, the sought-after Hooded Parrot, Northern Rosella, Red-backed Kingfisher, the delightful Red-backed Fairy-wren, Australian Figbird, Great Bowerbird and Masked, Long-tailed and Double-barred Finches are possible.
Accommodation: Pine Creek (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 5. Wednesday 26 June 2019. Pine Creek to Timber Creek.
Today we begin our journey west across the Top End. En route we have additional chances for Hooded Parrot and, with luck, we may see the uncommon northern race of Crested Shrike-tit. We will explore the cane-grass habitat on the fringes of the Victoria River for the lovely Purple-crowned Fairy-wren and Yellow-rumped Mannikin. Freshwater Crocodiles are common here and, unlike their saltwater cousins, subsist mostly on fish, and thus pose little threat to large mammals (humans included!). Other possible species today include Black-tailed Treecreeper, Rufous-throated, Black-chinned and Banded Honeyeaters and Buff-side Robin. Accommodation: Timber Creek (en suite hotel room). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 6. Thursday 27 June 2019. Timber Creek.
Today will be dedicated to continuing our search for the stunning Gouldian Finch. This area is also home to rich diversity of species and there will be plenty to keep us entertained while we search for our quarry. Highlights may include the sought-after Spinifex Pigeon, Yellow-tinted Honeyeater, Star, Long-tailed and Masked Finches and Chestnut and Yellow-rumped Mannikin. Accommodation: Timber Creek (en suite hotel room). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 7. Friday 28 June 2019. Timber Creek to Kununarra.
This morning we continue our sojourn west, and cross the Western Australia border. We will be on the lookout for the very rare Pictorella Mannikin and raptors as we go, including Square-tailed Kite. While today is a travel day, we will be passing through spectacular countryside and making regular stops to stretch our legs and enjoy any birding highlights. In the late afternoon, we will arrive in Kununurra in the fabled Kimberley area.
Accommodation: Kununurra (en suite hotel room). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 8. Saturday 29 June 2019. Kununurra.
Today we have a full day to explore the riches of the Kimberley in the Kununurra area. A certain highlight is bound to be a boat trip on Lake Argyle, where we will enjoy a wonderful variety of waterbirds, as well as search for two very special birds, the highly sought after Yellow Chat and White-quilled Rock Pigeon. Australian Reed-warbler may be seen in the lakeside vegetation, as might White-browed Crake and Pheasant Coucal. Local conditions will determine where we spend the rest of the day, with additional possible birding highlights including Brolga, Northern Rosella, Silver-crowned Friarbird, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Bar-breasted and Banded Honeyeaters, and Sandstone Shrike-thrush. Mammals in the area include Short-eared Rock-Wallaby and Northern Nail-tail Wallaby. Accommodation: Kununurra (en suite hotel room) Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 10. Sunday 30 June 2019. Kununurra and depart.
Today after breakfast we will transfer to the Kununurra airport where the tour will end. Based on 2018 flight schedule the following possibilities are available for onward travel: Kununurra to Broome 11:00-12:20 (and Broome to Perth 13:05-15:40) or Kununurra to Darwin 15:10-17:35.
Meals included: B

Tour Price: AU $5,250 per person sharing for a minimum group size of 6 people
Single supplement: AU $900
Price includes: 8 nights’ accommodation, specialist guide and transport, meals, entrance fees and activities as mentioned in the itinerary.
Price does not include: International and domestic airfares, gratuities, alcoholic beverages, snacks, internet, laundry or other items of a personal nature.

Please note: We would be pleased to arrange accommodation in Darwin on Friday 21 June 2019 so that you will be available to maximise your birding and wildlife viewing experience in Darwin at the start of the tour on day 1 above.

You may also like to consider returning to Darwin at the end of the tour to attend the Australasian Ornithological Conference which will be held from 3-5 July 2019 in Darwin.

Meals and drinks: Breakfast generally consists of a continental style breakfast with cereal, fruit and yoghurt and tea/coffee. Full cooked breakfast is not generally offered at most locations. Lunch will generally consist of a packed lunch style meal eaten in the field, with sandwich/filled roll, fruit, and a drink. Dinner usually consists of several options for main with the choice of either an appetiser or dessert. Drinks (soft and alcoholic) are generally not included but at lunches and breakfasts juice may be made available.
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.

Inala’s Top End Tour
Birds and Wildlife of Kakadu and the Kimberley 
10-19 July 2018

Trip Report by Darryel Binns, Inala Nature Tours 8 August 2018.

Itinerary OUTLINE:

Day 1. Tue 10 July 2018. Arrive Darwin
Day 2. Wed 11 July 2018. Explore Darwin area
Day 3. Thu 12 July 2018. Darwin to South Alligator, Kakadu
Day 4. Fri 13 July 2018. South Alligator to Cooinda, Kakadu
Day 5. Sat 14 July 2018. Kakadu to Pine Creek
Day 6. Sun 15 July 2018. Pine Creek to Timber Creek
Day 7. Mon 16 July 2018. Timber Creek
Day 8. Tue 17 July 2018. Timber Creek to Kununurra
Day 9. Wed 18 July 2018. Kununurra
Day 10. Thu 19 July 2018. Kununurra and depart

 

Day 1. Tuesday 10 July 2018. Arrive Darwin.
The tour started mid-afternoon today when the participants were collected from the hotel for an afternoon of birding around the Darwin area.  A visit to the Botanical Gardens yielded excellent views of Rufous Owl. Arafura Fantail, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Bush Stone-curlew, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher and Double-barred Finch were amongst the 32 bird species recorded for the afternoon- a great start to the trip!  Overnight Darwin.

 Day 2. Wednesday 11 July 2018. Darwin.
We spent another day around Darwin today, exploring the various reserves and coastal areas. We were rewarded with views of Grey Goshawk on a nest and more excellent views of Rufous Owl. Beach Stone-curlew, female Mangrove Golden Whistler, Black-necked stork, Brahminy Kite and Rose-crowned Fruit-dove, Green-backed Gerygone, Large-tailed Nightjar and Black Butcher Bird were some of the highlights of the day. Others included Red-headed Honeyeater, Silver-backed Butcherbird and good views of two Tawny roosting Frogmouths as well as Bar-breasted Honeyeater. A total of 72 species were seen today. Overnight Darwin.

Day 3. Thursday 12 July 2018. Darwin to South Alligator.
This morning we headed eastwards to Fogg Dam where we saw a variety of water birds, including Paperbark and Broad-billed Flycatchers and White-browed Crake. We also saw Black-tailed Tree Creeper, Banded Honeyeater and Weebill at a nearby billabong. Unfortunately, Wild Boar was also present in good numbers here. Black Bittern was another great find. After a rest at our accommodation, we managed great views of the Rainbow Pitta and a pair of Barking Owls were seen on a night spotlighting walk after dinner. 73 species were seen today. Overnight at South Alligator.

 Day 4. Friday 13 July 2018. South Alligator to Kakadu.
After another early start and a hearty breakfast, we managed to see Zitting Cisticola. The bird hide area at the nearby Billabong proved fruitful for a few bush birds as well as waterbirds and we saw the first of many Masked Finch. We also witnessed a Whistling Kite swoop onto the water and take what we thought was a Comb-crested Jacana although it was too far way and too quick to take any photos. We then visited the rock art at Ubirr and were rewarded with views of the endemic Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon. Pacific Baza was another great sighting. We then visited a crossing at a nearby river to watch Estuarine Crocodiles lining up to eat fish, with people fishing on the banks nearby. In Biggles’ words “to show folks why stupid people get eaten by big Water Lizards”. We then joined the sunset Yellow Waters cruise for a wonderful 2 hours on the famous lagoon where we saw heaps of birdlife. Other wildlife included crocs, buffaloes, wild horses, cattle and pigs. Nothing new here but such a volume of birds and a fabulous wetland scenery. From the boat we also watched a Black-necked Stork trying to swallow a largish File Snake. In team member Warren’s words “It was all down except the last 30cm when the snake, in one last gasp, wrapped its remaining body length around the bill. This prevented the Stork from swallowing, so he had to regurgitate the whole thing, and start the killing / swallowing sequence again”. We then settled into our cabins at Cooinda this evening. 66 species were seen today.

 Day 5. Saturday 14 July 2018. Kakadu to Pine Creek.
Another early start was made today to visit Nourlangie Rock before the crowds and heat. The Banded Fruit-Dove was seen by a few people in the group and White-lined Honeyeater was another good find. Unfortunately, Biggles was the only one to see the Pacific Emerald Dove he flushed on the path, but everyone saw the Sandstone race of Helmeted Friarbird. Another bonus was a pair of Barking Owls which attracted our attention by being harassed by other birds. We then headed southwards where we saw a pair of Red Goshawks at their nest. This was a real find as one of Australia’s rarest and most sought-after raptors. Other birds we saw today included Red-backed Kingfisher and Great Bowerbird and bower and Hooded Parrot. Interestingly, we also saw a Freshwater and estuarine Crocodile, each about 2 metres long, sunning themselves on a nearby dam. Overnight at Pine Creek and 68 species were seen today.

Day 6. Sunday 15 July 2018. Pine Creek to Timber Creek.
Today was a longer travel day as we needed to reach our destination at Timber Creek. However, we still had a good day of birding with great views of Long-tailed finch, Crimson Finch, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Masked Finch and Double-barred finch. Red-throated and Yellow Tinted Honeyeaters were also seen. We also unexpectedly saw 5 Red-necked Avocets at Katherine which were well out of their usual territory.  After lunch we searched for more finches and Purple-crowned Fairy-wren but the area had been burnt and no birds were to be seen there. Another disappointment was in store for us when roadworks and a water pump was newly located at Biggles’ next Fairy-wren hotspot. Some of the participants saw a Yellow-rumped Mannikin in poor light, after which we called it a day. A total of species was seen today. Overnight at Timber Creek.

 Day 7. Monday 16 July 2018. Timber Creek.
Today we left at day break and explored the Timber Creek area. Highlights today included Yellow-rumped and Chestnut-breasted Mannikins plus great views of the golden-backed form of Black-chinned Honeyeater. We finally found Purple-crowned Fairy-wren in another location that had thankfully not been burnt and a large group of Gouldians (both red and black faced forms and many juveniles).  Buff-sided Robin, Square-tailed Kite, Hooded Robin and Red-browed Pardalote were additional highlights. After a late lunch and a bit of a break, we ventured out again and saw Star Finches and Varied Lorikeets.  A great but tiring day of birding with a total of 51 species seen today. Overnight at Timber Creek again tonight.

 Day 8. Tuesday 17 July 2018. Timber Creek to Kununurra.
Today we headed westward into Western Australia after spending some further time around the Timber Creek area. We had good views of Black-breasted Buzzard before travelling to Wyndham, where we saw Mangrove Fantail; Square-tailed Kite was also seen by some. On our return to Kununurra (after navigating a considerable stretch of roadworks) we saw two Swamp Harriers and our first White-quilled Rock Pigeon (great work Clare!)  The area in which we birded was used for some scenes in the recent ABC mini-series "Mystery Roads". A total of 87 birds were seen today-our most productive day yet…but a long one! Overnight at Kununurra.

 Day 9. Wednesday 18 July 2019. Kununurra including Lake Argyle Cruise.
We had a very early (04:30) start for our Lake Argyle breakfast cruise. This was one of the highlights of the trip. Although our main target species was Yellow Chat, we also saw more White-quilled Rock Pigeons and got three “firsts” for the Lake according to our skipper: Australian Spotted Crake, Wood Duck and Welcome Swallow. There were also plenty of Yellow Chats for us to see. Then back to Kununurra for lunch and a rest, with a free afternoon for the group to recover from their early start. A total of 75 species were seen today. We had our last dinner together this evening where the tour officially ended. Overnight at Kununurra again tonight. 

Day 10. Thursday 19 July 2018. Depart Kununurra and tour ends.

Everyone was up early this morning for their long flights home or onwards to other adventures.

The total trip list was 180 bird species- 5 more than last year’s trip.