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Trip Report – February 2019

Comments: Having birded in Australia previously, this trip was primarily for a family wedding and to wait for my daughter to deliver my second grandchild so it wasn’t a true birding trip. Never the less we did a fair bit of birding, including side-trips to Adelaide and Cairns. As usual I have only listed life birds.

Sydney & area: We really only birded three spots here.

1) Blue Mountains: The weather was not good up here but we hadn’t been up here before so enjoyed the break away from Bondi. We managed 4 life birds by nosing around the area: Spotted Bowerbird, Glossy Black-Cockatoo, White-necked Heron and Satin Flycatcher.

Tawny Frogmouth

2) Royal National Park – we were out here for some really specific birds as we had been here several times before and there wasn’t that much new for us. We used a guide and got 6 out of our 7 targets: Sooty Owl, Green Catbird, Cicadabird, Logrunner, Rose Robin and Spotted Pardalote. Well worth the trip – and if you haven’t been there before your life list would be significant.

3) Centennial Park – This is a must do as well. Once again we were looking for specifics so we contacted a local guide to help us Tawny Frogmouth, Yellow Thornbill, Powerful Owl and Latham’s Snipe were all realatively easy to find. In addition this is the only place in Sydney that we have ever seen Little and Green Catbird, Shy Heathwren, Logrunner, Magpie Goose, and Powerful Owl.

Day 1: We couldn’t wait to get started so as soon as we arrived we headed out to the Aldhinga Conservation area. It was pretty hot and the place was very quiet but we did manage one life bird on the way back to the car – Splendid Fairy-wren. On the drive back to our accommodation we had fantastic views of hundreds of Galah, Little and Long-billed Corellas coming in to their roosts. Night at Coast Motel.

Day 2: Met our guide for the next 2 days at Belair Park which was quite birdy and we got some good life birds – Square-tailed Kite, Weebill and Gray Currawong. A great start.

Striated Pardalote

Next stop was Oliphant Conservation Area which was even better. Spotted Scrubwren, Crescent Honeyeater, Striated Pardalote, Common Bronzewing, Scarlet Robin and White-naped Honeyeater. Enjoyed coffee provided by our guide and then onto the next spot – Larantinga Wetland. This was very birdy and our life birds added up – Australasian Crake, Spotless Crake, Freckled Duck and Black-tailed Native-hen.

Last stop of the day was Tolderol Wetlands which is really worth a trip and for us we added Red-necked Avocet and Banded Lapwing. Then on the road on the way out Elegant Parrot and Singing Honeyeater. What a day! Drove on down to Encounter Bay to our rental house and just around the corner we had our last life bird of the day, Australasian Hobby.

Day 3: Met our guide in Strathalbyn for coffee at the local bakery before heading on to Monarto Forest. As we drove in we had Jacky Winters and Australian Ringneck beside the road ( along with dozens of White-winged Chough). When we parked we spent about two hours in pretty much the same spot because it was amazing! Rainbow Bee-eater, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Southern Whiteface, Purple Crowned Parakeet, Purple-backed Fairy-wren, Spiny-cheeked and Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Restless Flycatcher and, to our amazment, Australian Owlet-nightjar!

Australian Owlet-nightjar

After that excitment we made one more stop in the park for Red-capped Robin and White-browed Babbler.

We then did a fair bit of driving around the peninsula picking up Cape Barren Goose in the fields, Purple-gaped Honeyeater at Monato Conservation Area and Black-faced Cormorant at Goolwa.Back before heading to our house in Encounter Bay for the night.

Day 4: Enjoyed a lazy breakfast on the deck of our house and then packed up and drove towards Gluepot. Made one stop at Brookfield conservation area but it was very hot so not too busy but 2 great birds Emu(!!) and Hooded Robin. Made our way over to our accommodation outside Waikerie. Whistling Kite Cottage.

Day 5: Our new guide picked us up in the morning and drove us into Gluepot Reserve. The strategy for birding here is quite different at this time of year. You basically wait to hear your target call and then charge after it! We found it a bit disconcerting but even though it was about 38C we did quite well with our lifers: Whitebrowed Treecreeper, Mulga Parrot, White-fronted Hoenyeater, Shy Heathwren, Southern Scrub-Robin, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Chestnut-crowned Babbler, Yellow-throated Miner and Gilbert’s Whistler.

It was crazy hot by then so we chose to have a lazy afternoon at the cottage. Drove back into Waikerie for groceries and also to see Apostlebird on the grass in the park by the ferry!

Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush

Day 6: Decided to do a short day with our guide as the alternative was a lot of driving without the potential for many more lifers. Met our guide in Berri and drove into a small fragment of mallee habitat to try for the species we had missed the day before. we did quite well and got Striped Honeyeater and Chestnut-breasted Quailthrush quite quickly.

Then moved on to a diffrent type of habitat for Bluebonnet, Redthroat and White-winged Fairywren. Last stop was back near the hotel right by where we had left the car for great views of Blue-faced Honeyeater.
Back to our cottage to pack up and drive into Adelaide for our flight up to Cairns. Night at Atura, Adelaid Airport.

Day 1: Checked into our hotel in Cairns and then went out to the waterfront to try for some of the local birds on our own and right there we had great views of Yellow, Varied and Brown Honeyeater. We were losing the light so back to our hotel. Shangri-la Cairns.

Day 2: Checked out Centenary Lakes park and had a great time, Black Butcherbird, Brush Thicknee, Double-eyed Fig-parrot, Yellow Oriole

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot

and Australian Bush-turkey.

Onto Catlana Wetlands which was quite quiet but we did get Silver-crowned Friarbird. We then drove up to Daintree and saw quite a few Magpie Geese on the side of the road.

Day 3: Met our guide in Mossman for our one day’s guided birding. We stopped briefly at a nearby mangrove to pick up Large-billed Gerygone and Orange-footed Scrubfowl. We then drove over the mountains towards the tablelands to reach the grasslands where we found Australian Bustard, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Tawny Grassbird, Collared Sparrowhawk, Red-winged Parrot, Pale-headed Rosella and Great Bowerbird, Red-necked Avocet, Tawny Frogmouth, Varied Honeyeater and Weebill.
Then an amazing spot that our guide knew of for Squatter Pigeon before heading up Mt Lewis to see if we could catch a break in the weather. It stopped raining long enough for Mountain Thornbill, Blue-faced parrot, Grey-headed Robin and Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher.

After lunch we hit the jackpot on a small side-road with a Noisy Pitta sitting at the side of the road and then Lovely Fairywren, Yellow-

Victoria’s Riflebird

spotted and Macleay’s Honeyeaters, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Pied Butcherbird, Pied and Spectacled Monarch, Pale-yellow Robin and Mistletoe bird. It was quite the spot. We ended the day at a small mangrove area for Mangrove Robin.

Day 4: We decided to spend our last couple of nights up on the tablelands at a fabulous place where the birds come into feed – Crater Lakes

Rainforest Cottages – definitely worth a visit. From the porch of our cottage we had Victoria’s Riflebird, Bridled Honeyeater, Scarlet Honeyeater and Spotted Catbird.

A trip into Yungaburra for a walk down beside the river and we got our final lifebird of the trip – White-headed Pigeon.


Lucky Dog, North Bondi – through booking.com
QT Hotel, Bondi 
Echos Boutique Hotel, 
Blue Mountains
Rydges, Cronulla,  Royal National Park
Coast Motel, Adelaide 
Encounter Beach House, Flerieu Peninsula AirBnb
Whistling Kite Cottage -Gluepot – Recommended [email protected]
Atura Hotel, Adelaide Airport 
Shangri-la Hotel, Cairns
Daintree Hideaway, Daintree – not recommended
Crater Lakes Rainforest Cottages, Atherton Tablelands 

Guides & Resources

Blue Mountains – self guided
Royal National Park – Steve Anyon-Smith
Fleurieu Peninsula – Steve Potter
Gluepot – Helga Keiskamp
Cairns – Doug Herrington

Field Guide: Birds of Australia – Pizzy & Knight

Lonely Planet guide for points of interest.

Bird List