Sally and I have been in Darwin now for 5 days. We have been chasing birds locally before heading off tomorrow for Kakadu, Pine Creek, Katherine and Timber Creek (Konunurra if we have time).
We have a campervan so are very flexible as everything goes with us wherever we go. Having said that on our second attempt we found a decent campsite just out of town – Hidden Valley. a whopping Prices are double RSA and all foodstuffs approximately 50% more expensive. Petrol about R17 a litre and alcohol a whopping 300% more expensive – cheapest wine R90 a bottle and R500 for a case of beer (330ml cans).
It has been hectically hot – usually from 8 am onwards. So up early and push on until exhaustion and bad tempers prevail. By 11:30 we are back in the campsite pool cooling off. It is a struggle to get the energy to go out again late afternoon.
On top of that unless you are around water – sea or lagoons – the birding is slow. 30 to 40 species in a very good morning. Not helped as quite a number of places only open at 08h00!! Hardly birder friendly (on occasion they do forget to close the gates).
We have ventured to the following birding spots:
Charles Darwin NP (opens at 08h00)
Holmes Jungle (opens at 08h00)
Howard Springs (opens at 08h00)
What follows is a series of pictures from each of these places – we hope you enjoy them. We have been bold enough to put names to most of the birds but if you know better then please let us know.
Charles Darwin NP:
Good place to start birding in Darwin – we saw some very nice species – Little Shrike-Thrush took a lot of chasing to get a picture (bird is darker than shown in the photo).
Good place to take a chair in the evening. Not much shade during the day. A good variety of waterbirds.
We were fortunate to bird the shore at Lee Point at high tide so the birds were relatively close. They were not too friendly though and always moved on as we got close. After chasing them for an hour we eventually had to give up as the temperature was becoming unbearable.
In the car park area we did find some nesting Grey-crowned Babblers.
Got there too late in the day to be productive but were fortunate to see a pair of nesting White-bellied Woodswallows.
Interesting woodland paths (Jungle?) however saw very little – too hot – mid day.
The walk through the forest yielded 2 birds – Large-billed Gerygone and Rainbow Pitta. Followed the call till we located the Pitta – much to our joy and not seriously expected.
The rocks on the waterfront had an abundance of interesting species – Eastern Reef Egret including white morph, Little Curlew, Collared Kingfisher and Striated Heron amongst numerous terns, Pacific Golden Plover etc..
There is one wader which really through us – see mystery bird in photos. Its body was no bigger than a Sanderling but it stood on 2 long fragile yellow legs giving it an appearance of a very delicate bird.
First place to be really attacked by mossies and our SAS Avon Skin so Soft anti mossy and sunscreen failed. Now trying a 50:50 mix of dettol and baby oil.
But we did find another Rainbow Pitta!
Definitely the most comfortable place we have visited so far. Walk through woodlands to the Lagoon, Picnic Tables and glorious shade on a mound with a commanding view of the Lagoon. Waterbirds were excellent and had us nose to books on numerous occasions.