Trip Report: Australia July/August 2004 - Page 5

July 29, Darwin
We birded the grounds and entrance track before breakfast then headed back to Copperfield Dam. It wasn't long before we found probably the same flock of Gouldian Finch and enjoyed cracking views of both red-faced and black-faced males. This was the last of our target birds and we drove back to Darwin extremely satisfied. We spent most of the rest of the day visiting new sites around the south of Darwin. At McMinns Lagoon we added Tawny Grassbird. Howard Springs was more productive with our first live Barramundi, an Arafura File Snake and best of all, a Little Kingfisher. We found another new bird, Australian Pratincole, at Knuckey Lagoon. Back in Darwin we had to get used to city life again and it seemed like the population had doubled since we were last here! Then we found it was due to the Darwin Classic, apparently some sort of horse race. This meant accommodation was at a premium and we were forced to check into a brand new but rather basic backpacker's hostel. We revisited Tiger Brennan Drive then East Point where we stayed till dusk and saw another Rainbow Pitta and at least four Large-tailed Nightjars. After suffering from a chip diet for the past ten days we craved something different and found a fantastic Vietnamese restaurant in the middle of town. A great way to round off the day!

Australian White Ibis Rainbow Bee-eater

July 30, Darwin
Being short of a few mangrove birds we started the day at Buffalo Creek. Highlight here was two very close Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins. At Lee Point we found a distant Brown Booby. A fire had swept through Casuarina since we were last there but along the creek we saw a Little Kingfisher and two Arafura Fantails.

July 31, to Brisbane
A short but productive visit to East Point where we found that more waders had begun to arrive. Five Terek Sandpipers were new and we also had very close views of a Beach Stone-Curlew.

Beach Stone-Curlew

All too soon it was time to drive to the airport and, after cursing the lack of airport signs, we dropped off our hire car and boarded our flight. The birding hadn't quite stopped though as we saw at least five Australian Pratincoles as we taxied along the runway! From the plane we could see the vast outback, dotted with little bush fires that the Aboriginals use for controlling the undergrowth. It was a bit of a shock when we landed in Brisbane in the dark at 17.30 under a cold cloudy sky until we remembered that it was actually winter in this part of Australia. We were met by our friends Trevor and Kym who we were going to be staying with for the next few days and bade farewell to Neil.

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