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Top End Birdwatching Tour, Northern Territory, Australia - 7 Days

Top End Birdwatching Tour, Northern Territory, Australia
5999

Bird Watching Tour in the Top End of Australia

The northern “Top End” of Australia is explored during this 7-day bird watching tour. The area is easily traversed from the northern city of Darwin and has a great climate. During the dry season (June to November) temperatures are generally pleasantly warm and the rich birdlife can be found congregated around waterholes and many other scenic spots. There are many range-restricted and endemic species to be found here: expect around 200 bird species on this trip.

During our Top End Birdwatching tour we can expect up to ten finch species including Gouldian, Masked and Star Finches and Yellow-rumped and Pictorella Mannikins; parrots such as the endemic Hooded Parrot, Northern Rosella, Red-winged Parrot, Cockatiel, Budgerigar, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo; pigeons including Chestnut-quilled and White-quilled Rock-pigeon, Partridge Pigeon; quails and Button-quails; a variety of Honeyeaters; and a raft of waterfowl and a good chance of Black Bittern and Great-billed Heron as well as the elusive Red Goshawk, the stunning Rainbow Pitta and many other specialities.

This is also a very good time of the year to see raptors. Join us for this exciting Top End birdwatching tour from Darwin to Australia’s northern wilderness including world-famous Kakadu NP, one of the world’s few remaining large unspoilt wilderness areas with savannahs, wild rivers, rocky outcrops, eucalypt woodlands and tidal estuaries, which is also steeped in indigenous culture. Other areas to be visited include the rugged Nitmiluk National Park with its huge sandstone cliffs, the scenic oasis-like Pine Creek, the savannah-like environs of Katherine (with enormous magnetic termite mounds) and the remote Jubara/Gregory National Park (Timber Creek Region).  In addition to the birds, we’ll look for Saltwater Crocodile, the endemic Short-eared Rock-wallaby and other kangaroo and wallaby species (macropods).

Top 5 highlights:

  • Ten finch species (including the colourful Gouldian Finch), the stunning Rainbow Pitta, and ten parrot species await in the Top End birdwatching tour
  • Masses of waterbirds in the wetlands of Kakadu NP creating a cacophony of sounds that echo against the walls of the sandstone cliffs in a perfect background framing this picture
  • Saltwater Crocodiles sleepily dozing on the banks of the rivers while we photograph Little Kingfishers and Great-billed Herons
  • Exploring Kakadu NP, one of Australia's most famous wilderness areas the size of Wales with only 2 main roads
  • A comfortable wait at the edge of a tidal mangrove where we might be lucky to view the elusive Chestnut Rail, Yellow White-eye, Mangrove Whistler, Azure Kingfisher and Beach Thick-knee.

Interested in going to the centre of the Australian Outback for a different tour?  Why not consider the Red Centre Birding Tour Australia.

Alternative Tour Name: Top End Adventure
Day 1
Day 1 - Darwin to Kakadu NP

Our guide will pick you up after an early breakfast. We’ll visit Buffalo Creek, where, depending on the tide, we have a chance of glimpsing Chestnut Rail. It spends most of its time hidden in dense mangroves, but we’ll certainly hear it calling and with luck might see it. Other mangrove species will entertain us, including Black Butcherbird, Greenbacked Gerygone, Yellow White-eye, Mangrove Whistler and Azure Kingfisher. On the nearby beach we may see the huge yet elusive Beach Thick-knee. We’ll visit one of the local reserves containing Monsoon Forest to search for Grey Whistler, Arafura Fantail, Little Shrike-thrush, Green-backed Gerygone, Rosecrowned Fruit-dove and our main target Rainbow Pitta. In the Darwin Botanic Gardens we will be looking for Rufous and Barking Owls on their day roosts and then we’ll drive to the Fogg Dam wetlands, originally a rice-growing scheme, but thousands of Magpie Geese put an end to that plan and the area is now a nature reserve. The mass of reedbeds and lily-covered ponds is home to birds such as Brolga, Magpie Geese, Black-necked Stork, Royal Spoonbill, Comb-crested Jacana, White-browed and Baillon’s Crake, Green Pygmy-goose, Broad- billed and Paperbark Flycatchers, Tawny Grassbird, and Golden-headed Cisticola. In the adjacent woodlands we should have another chance of the beautiful Rainbow Pitta and Lemon-bellied Flycatcher. Towards the end of the day we arrive heading in Kakadu, Australia’s largest terrestrial national park. Covering almost 20,000 sq. km, it is a place of enormous ecological and biological diversity. The rock escarpments are a treasure trove of Aboriginal rock paintings. And the birdlife and wildlife is spectacular! Along the way we will visit one of Kakadu’s finest wetlands, Mamukala, a large billabong that can hold thousands of waterbirds. From the bird hide we expect to see waterfowl such as Magpie Goose, Radjah Shelduck, Hardhead, Plumed and Wandering Whistling-Duck, Green Pygmy-Goose and egrets and herons include Little, Intermediate and Great Egret, Nankeen Night-Heron and White-necked and Pied Heron. After checking in at our hotel in Jabiru we will then head South toward Nawurlandja to bird among the sandstone cliffs and watch the sunset. Targets here are Banded Fruit-dove, Partridge Pigeon, Chestnut-quilled Rock-pigeon, White-lined Honeyeater, Sandstone Shrike-thrush and the Sandstone race of Helmeted Friarbird. Crocodile Hotel, Jabiru (en-suite room; meals: B, L, D).

Day 2
Day 2 - Kakadu NP

An early morning to head North to Bardedjilidji for an early morning walk, here we will be looking Chestnut-quilled Rockpigeon, Sandstone Shrike-thrush and maybe a Rainbow Pitta or Rose-crowned Fruit-dove. After the walk our next spot is Ubirr for the rest of the morning. This spectacular view over the floodplain can also be a great place for Chestnutquilled Rock-pigeon and Sandstone Shrike-thrush. Rocky escarpments such as Ubirr not only have Aboriginal rock art paintings but are also a good place to see White-lined Honeyeater, Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon and Sandstone Shrikethrush, along with the newly split Wilkin’s (Eastern) Short-eared Rock Wallaby. If the tide is right we will check out Cahill crossing to see its famous crocodiles feeding together then it will be time to head back for lunch. After a break in the middle of the day we will head to Nourlangie to clean up any of the endemics we have missed, this is also a great spot to see some aboriginal artwork. There are also Black and Little Red Flying-Foxes here, as well as many exotic lizards, colourful turtles, and unusual butterflies. We spend the night again in the township of Jabiru, in the heart of Kakadu. Accommodation: Crocodile Hotel, Jabiru (en-suite room; meals: B, L, D).

Day 3
Day 3 - Kakadu to Pine Creek

We start the day early with a cruise on the Yellow Waters, one of Australia’s important areas for waterfowl. Watch the sunrise over the water teeming with up to 70 species including Plumed and Wandering Whistling-ducks, Pacific Black Duck, White-necked and White-faced Herons, Nankeen Night-heron, Australasian Grebe, Australasian Darter, Glossy, Arafura Fantail, Buff-sided Robin and Paperbark Flycatcher. Azure Kingfisher can be found along the river and we should see Forest and Sacred Kingfishers. Some of the rarer birds we may encounter include Great-billed Heron, Little Kingfisher and Black Bittern. After the cruise we will head back to the lodge to check out and have lunch before heading South to Pine Creek and our accommodation for the night, along the way we have a chance for Australia's rarest bird of prey: the Red Goshawk, which nests in the area. The afternoon is spent around Pine Creek tracking down the endemic Hooded Parrot, along with Red-winged Parrot, Northern Rosella, Varied and Red-collared Lorikeet. We’ll also encounter Little Corella, Sulphur-crested and Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. Accommodation: Pine Creek Railway Resort (en-suite room; meals: B, L, D).

Day 4
Day 4 - Pine Creek to Victoria River

Some early morning birding around Pine Creek to pick up any parrots we may still need, then we head south for our first chance to see the spectacular Gouldian Finch, other birds in the area include Hooded Parrots, Long-Tailed Finch, Masked Finch, Double-barred Finch, Banded Honeyeater, Great Bowerbird and Brown Quail. Along the way we’ll witness the amazing magnetic termite mounds. These 10+ ft tall mounds are dotted throughout the savannah-like landscape. We will also be on the lookout for Dollarbird and Silver- crowned Friarbird and further chances of the rare Red Goshawk. After a morning around beautiful Edith Falls on the Katherine River in Nitmiluk National Park (Gouldian Finch, Hooded Parrot, Northern Rosella and a nice selection of honeyeaters) we head south to Katherine for lunch before heading west to the Victoria River Region. Along the way we will stop at a few secret spots to see what we can find: Gouldian Finch is high on the target list. The afternoon at Victoria River can be spent searching for Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens along the banks of the Victoria River or go looking for White-quilled Rock-pigeons which are found up on the escarpments. Accommodation: Victoria River Road House (en-suite room; meals: B, L, D).

Day 5
Day 5 - Victoria River to Timber Creek

The morning will be spent around the roadhouse at Victoria River looking for Purple-crowned Fairy-wren, birds of Prey and finches. Alternatively we may explore the escarpments of the Victoria River National Park which means a moderate hike with some steep sections. The rewards will (hopefully) be: White-quilled Rock Pigeon, Sandstone Shrikethrush, Little Woodswallow, Yellow-tinted and Black-chinned Honeyeater. Back around lunchtime and a short break then we’ll head further west. The savannahlike landscape here is reminiscent of Africa, dotted with the odd-looking Boab trees. Arriving at Timber creek we start looking for the various finches that live in this habitat, such as Star, Double-barred, Zebra and Gouldian Finch, as well as Pictorella and Yellow-rumped Mannikin and with luck, Chestnut-backed Buttonquail. Accommodation: Timber Creek Hotel (en-suite cabins; meals: B, L, D).

Day 6
Day 6 - Timber Creek to Pine Creek

This morning we will be up early again to bird another great area, where our targets will be Pictorella Mannikin, Budgerigar, Cockatiel and maybe another Gouldian Finch or two. We’re sure to add more species to the list here, including Grey-headed and Grey-fronted Honeyeater. After a morning in the area we start heading back east and to our accommodation in Katherine for the night. After checking in we will bird one of the many sites around Katherine ether looking for Chestnut-backed Button-quail or head south to look for the rare Northern Crested Shrike-tit. There is also a nice selection of honeyeaters including Banded and Rufous-throated Honeyeaters. Accommodation: Ibis Styles Katherine (en-suite room; meals: B, L, D).

Day 7
Day 7 - Pine Creek to Darwin

Depending on what we are missing we will determine where to go this morning. Possibilities around Pine Creek include wetlands where Partridge Pigeon may come in to drink, while Olive-backed Orioles frequent the trees, Red-backed Kingfishers sit on the wires and various waterfowl forage on the wetlands although we should have picked up all waterbirds by now. Heading north we have further chances of birding rainforest patches looking for Buff-sided Robin, various honeyeaters, Silver-backed Butcherbird, Arafura Fantail and Varied Lorikeet. We’ll bird our way back to picking up any birds that we may still need. Arriving back in Darwin by mid afternoon we’ll finalise the bird list, and then it’s time for goodbyes and drop everyone off at their respective hotels (own arrangements) in Darwin or the airport (meals: B, L).

Gouldian, Masked and Star Finches and Yellow-rumped and Pictorella Mannikins; parrots such as the endemic Hooded Parrot, Northern Rosella, Red-winged Parrot, Cockatiel, Budgerigar, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo; pigeons including Chestnut-quilled and White-quilled Rock-pigeon, Partridge Pigeon; quails and Button-quails; a variety of Honeyeaters; and a raft of waterfowl including whistling-ducks, herons, ibises and good chance of Black Bittern and Great-billed Heron; Red Goshawk, Rainbow Pitta and many more. Expect around 200 species.

What is included?

  • All meals commencing with Lunch on Day 1 and finishing with Lunch on Day 7
  • Drinking water, tea and/or coffee
  • Accommodation in private rooms
  • Some with en-suites although on some
  • Nights only basic rooms with shared facilities are available
  • Upgrades to rooms with en-suites may be possible subject to availability
  • Transport using the comfortable and reliable 4WD vehicle
  • Expert guiding
  • Any entry fees
  • Taxes

What is not included?

  • Insurance
  • Travel to & from departure and finish points
  • Pre- & post trip accommodation, any meals
  • before Lunch on Day 1
  • Dinner on Day 7
  • Drinks except where provided
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips
Wildlife Reviews
4.67 stars
- based on 2  reviews
  1. Good trip
    Anne & Ron30 Aug 2017
    4.5
    Overall

    Tours

    Wildlife

    Guides

    Conservation

    Location

    Value

    Good trip, good leader, good birds!
  2. One of the best tours!
    Andy & Marg30 Aug 2019
    4.83
    Overall

    Tours

    Wildlife

    Guides

    Conservation

    Location

    Value

    One of the best tours I've ever participated in during my 30-odd years of birding. Excellent guide, nice group & all my targets found!

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Why book with Bellbird Birding Tours?

Bellbird Birding Tours has 20 years experience in providing top-quality small-group birding trips throughout Australia and beyond. We offer a wide selection of scheduled tours with regular departures and fully customisable privately guided tours of any duration. We specialise in difficult-to-find bird species and off-the-beaten track locations while not omitting the popular birding areas. We can adjust any scheduled itinerary into a private tour to suit your wish-list and we are also happy to design a custom guided birding tour from scratch for you. Our tours are led by our passionate and experienced professional bird guides and with the help of local experts.

What to bring?

Please travel light. Binoculars, camera, mobile phone, chargers, power adaptors (if you’re an international guest), strong insect repellent, sunscreen, personal medications, travel umbrella, hat, water bottle, hand sanitizer. Sturdy footwear recommended. Scopes, super-telephoto lenses with tripods, and heavy suitcases are discouraged.

Clothing

Lightweight long pants, t-shirt and long-sleeved shirt, over the top of which you can wear layers that can be taken off as necessary, including a rain-proof jacket. Neat casual attire for dinners. Shorts and sandals or thongs (flip-flops) are acceptable for non-birding time.

Join Our Fixed Tour Starting Date

Tour Dates Tour Availability From Price Spaces Left
29/08/2021 - 04/09/2021 guaranteed AUD 5,999
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7 Days

Price & Availability

From
AUD5,999 / per person
Based on twin/double room
This tour is operated by: Bellbird Birding Tours
4.79 based on 11 reviews

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Operator Review Summary

4.79 Based on 11 reviews
Tours
Wildlife
Guides
Conservation
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Value

Tour Facts

  • Darwin, Northern Territory
  • Set Departure
  • Set Departure Tour
  • Birds
  • 4 to 8px
  • 7 Days
  • Sep to Dec
  • + 15 years
  • Moderate
  • No
  • English
  • Darwin airport
  • Darwin city