Easy Birding In Howard Springs Nature Park, Northern Territory

Howard Springs Nature Park is the perfect way to begin your birding adventure in Australia’s Northern Territory.  It’s only half an hour from Darwin and easy to find.  Best of all, the birding is easy and amazing!

DSCN5526We opened the windows and drove slowly down the access road.  In less than 5 minutes, I saw a flash of colour on the left.  I drove closer as quietly as possible and found a beautiful Rainbow Pitta foraging in the bush!  This was going to be good  – one of my target species right off the bat!  I walked slowly and quietly closer until the bird disappeared into the bush. DSCN5541 DSCN5543 DSCN5532 DSCN5537 DSCN5542

Moving on, a Rainbow Bee-eater was doing his job!DSCN5549

A pair of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos were frolicking in the trees.DSCN5553 DSCN5557

Broad-billed FlycatcherDSCN5559

Closer to the picnic area was this lovely Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, another of my targeted species!DSCN5562 DSCN5567 DSCN5568

We drove down to the end of the road, didn’t find anything so turned around.DSCN5571

An Australasian Figbird was watching us.DSCN5577

Peaceful Doves peacefully foraging near the picnic ground.DSCN5580

Pied Cormorant stretching his wings.DSCN5582

The visitors info place was closed but they had some good information posted.DSCN5587 DSCN5590 DSCN5591

Orange-footed Scrubfowl right near the sign!DSCN5588 DSCN5589

Bar-shouldered Dove watching from above.DSCN5598

Up to now we had been braving the mosquitoes.  We only had a small bottle in our carry-on because we planned to buy more when we got here.  By the time we reached the pond and the hiking trails we were being eaten alive and forced to turn back.DSCN5593 DSCN5594

I wasn’t worried as I knew we would be passing by here after the road trip around the Top End so decided to save our skin.  We had already seen many of the target birds anyway so a very auspicious start to this adventure!

Birding Bowra Part 2 – Pond & Homestead Area

There are some great places to see birds just a few steps from the shearers cabin at Bowra Station.  Getting up at dawn, bringing a chair outside and watching the birds wake up is very rewarding!

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Black-winged Stilts are very common here.

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White-breasted Woodswallows

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Black-fronted Dotterel

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Another stilt

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Red-winged Parrot

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Rainbow Bee-eater

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Spoonbill

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Red-rumped Parrot

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Spotted Bowerbird with Bower

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Kangaroos

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Paddy Melons – food for hungry parrots

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We’ve all seen pet Budgies but nothing beats seeing them in the wild!  They have nests in the trees near the homestead.

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Red-rump Parrot

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Red-winged Parrot

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More Budgies

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Beautiful Red-winged Parrot posing nicely

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Red-rumps are usually in the trees around the pond

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Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis)

The Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis) (sometimes little green bee-eater) is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family. It is resident but prone to seasonal movements and is found widely distributed across sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal and the Gambia to Ethiopia, the Nile valley, western Arabia and Asia through India to Vietnam.  They are mainly insect eaters and they are found in grassland, thin scrub and forest often quite far from water. Several regional plumage variations are known and several subspecies have been named.

I took these photos just outside Doi Inthanon NP in the Blossom-headed Parakeet Conservation Area.  They are fairly common throughout Thailand.

IMG_9822 IMG_9820 IMG_9859 They actually have a huge range that spans Africa and Asia.  Details of recent sightings are on Xeno-canto.  The red dot in Thailand shows the location in which my photos were taken.

bee-eaterLEARN MORE ABOUT THIS BIRD

Wikipedia

HBW

Xeno-canto

VIDEO

Lovely close-ups of Green Bee-eaters.

 

The Birds Of Kakum, Ghana

Yesterday I blogged about how to visit the Kakum National Park in Ghana.  Now lets see some of the birds!

Firstly, we actually SAW a lot more than I could get photos of.  These birds are camera shy and they are fast!  The few bird pics I got are terrible to the point that I can’t match them to a pic in the bird book other than the red bird (Red-headed Malimbe) and the blue bird (Splendid Glossy Starling).   I will try to make up for it with photos of the actual canopy walkway.

Pied Crow

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Cattle Egret

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The trail leading up to the canopy walkway, see how dark it is?  We saw a Paradise Flycatcher along the way but the photo didn’t come out – too dark.

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These are our guides.  Only one was the real paid guide, the other one was his friend who just tagged along, I think he is in training.

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Some independent birders already there.

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The organized birding group who are also staying at the Rainforest Lodge.  I noticed they were watching something very intently so I followed their gaze but couldn’t see anything.  All of a sudden, a small bird flew out of the foliage very quickly and the group burst into applause.  What WAS that bird?  We caught up to them and found out it was a Rosy Bee-eater, one of the target birds in Kakum!  At least I caught a glimpse of him!

They are really beautiful, check out this video!

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Black Bee-eater

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Velvet-mantled Drongo

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Red-headed Malimbe

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IMG_5984IMG_5984aAt this point my husband is bored and just having fun with the walkways.

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Splendid Glossy Starling

IMG_5996 IMG_5997 IMG_5998See how beautiful he is!

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A lizard walking in front of us.

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Back at the reception, the shop was finally open.

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Our two guides.  Sorry I can’t remember their names but they did know the birds quite well so if you see them there, I can recommend them!

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Back in the carp park a Little Bee-eater

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Lesser Honeyguide

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The private bus for the tour group.

IMG_6028While I usually do just fine as an independent birder with a local guide, I have to say that Ghana is the first place where I got real “tour-group envy”.  They got into the park much earlier, they have private transport so they can get to more remote places where I couldn’t go using tro-tros and their guide supplies them with a checklist of all the birds they saw.

I did get my guide to thumb through my book with me so I could highlight the birds we saw but I am a long way off from anything that resembles the nicely organized bird list the tour groups get.  Here is an example of one for all of Ghana but they do make notes on the exact place the bird was seen.

We had lunch at the small cafe just outside the park and hung around the rest of the day for birding in the car park and surrounding areas.  My cash reserves were down (when will I learn to change enough money) so we couldn’t make a second trip into the park, they charge by the hour, not the whole day!

Dryandra Woodland, Western Australia

Dryandra Woodland offers amazing birding only a couple hours drive from PerthUse your miles to get here and then hire a car so you can explore this beautiful park on your own.

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Although you could visit Dryandra Woodland as a day trip from Perth, I highly recommend staying a night or two here so you can visit all the water holes and birding areas.  You can stay either in the park or in Narrogin, about a half hour’s drive from Dryandra.

The Lion’s Dryandra Village has the advantage of being right inside the park so no commuting and you can easily do the night tour at Barna Mia.  You do need to be completely self-sufficient and bring your own food and bed linens.

IMG_4587 IMG_4588 IMG_4590Otherwise you can stay in the closest town of Narrogin where there are several options such as Bella’s Country Place (where we stayed-my review), Albert Facey Motel & Narrogin Motel.

The official park website has a brochure you can download.  I have marked some prime birding location in yellow on the screenshot below.  The Old Mill Dam was the best place, I personally saw several Western Rosellas, Australian Ringnecks, Rainbow Bee-eaters and more (see bird list links below).

Dryandra birding spots

The bird list is very impressive and Frank O’Connor’s website has some great location details complete with co-ordinates for your GPS.  Eremaea also has a bird list for Dryandra Woodland.

Here are some photos I took at Dryandra Woodlands.

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Australian Ringneck

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Common Bronzewing

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Scarlet Robin wants a bath

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Some New Holland Honey-eaters join in.

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TBD

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Western Rosellas wait for the chance to drink.  I was really happy to see them after I saw a video that they were disappearing.

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Although this Ringneck didn’t approach too close to the Rosellas, they still flew off when he was joined by others.  It’s clear the Ringneck is the dominating species.

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The Kookaburra wasn’t fazed by the Ringnecks at all or vice-versa.

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Rainbow Bee-eaters put on a great show diving down for a drink and quick bath.

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Willie Wagtails were everywhere!

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A few kangaroos came down for a drink.

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More Bee-eaters

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Australian Magpies were also everywhere!

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More Australian Ringnecks

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Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus)

The Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family Meropidae. It is the only species of Meropidae found in Australia.  They are brilliantly colored birds that grow to be 19–24 cm (max 28 cm) in length, including the elongated tail feathers.

IMG_4441 IMG_4445a Close up from Wikipedia.

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Rainbow bee-eaters are a common species and can be found during the summer in forested areas in most of southern Australia excluding Tasmania. They migrate north during the winter into northern Australia, New Guinea, and some of the southern islands of Indonesia.  They may be found in open woodlands, beaches, dunes, cliffs, mangroves, woodlands and they often visits parks and private gardens.  The first two photos above were taken at the watering hole near the Dryandra Village.  They were quite entertaining as they whizzed down for a drink at the speed of light!  Dryandra Woodlands is an easy 2 hour drive from Perth.

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Known to the Noongar as “birranga”, the bee-eater’s beauty and character set it apart from other birds and it is the traditional totem of an important family group in the eastern Wheatbelt..

An Aboriginal Dreaming story tells how birds came into being when a rainbow shattered and its colourful shards fell to earth, and the basis for such a tale can be appreciated in the rainbow bee-eater’s startling yet muted oranges, gauzy greens, powder-puff blues and soft yellows.

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS BIRD

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Australian Wildlife Conservancy

VIDEOS

Nice close up footage eating an insect

Feeding chicks in a nest

 

Birding Adventures In Botswana

Another spectacular video from Birding Adventures TV!   There are no parrot species in this video, though Botswana does have a few parrots species.   They have some amazing footage of feeding lions along with some classic Botswanan birds such as Secretary Bird, Wattled Crane, Lilac Breasted Rollers and several Bee-Eaters.  Enjoy!