Video highlights Darwin and Kakadu National Park, Australia

23 May 2016 - 12:03 -- Pieter de Groot...

Darwin Harbour, this harbour is next to tracks of mangrove forest, which are notoriously difficult to penetrate in N Australia. A short cruise with Sea Darwin offered me the best chance to see the Chestnut Rail. Although this tour doesn't focus to look for the species the owners told me they see the species often when they do their regular Darwin Harbour Tour. This tour includes a visit to the mangroves, and it was low tide at at the time of the tour. I saw three birds (a pair and a lone bird) around midday. A few locations near Darwin are said to offer a good chance to see the species, but both timing (low water early in the morning are best) and luck are needed. In addition, Sea Darwin also do turtle cruises (april-sept.) to Bare Sand Island around full moon. A wonderful experience, where Flat-backed Sea-turtles can be seen laying eggs on the island. This species only lays its eggs on Australian soil

  • Chestnut Rail, a near endemic to Australia. The first video of this species on the IBC. This rather large rail occurs along coastal NE Western Australia and N Northern Territory, and possibly to extreme NW Queensland. Outside of Australia, this species can only been found on the Aru Islands (Indonesia), south of W West Papua. It's exclusively found in mangroves, which makes it rather difficult to see due to the inaccessibility of this habitat. The best chances are at low tide in the early mornings at most accessible locations (but see above at Darwin Harbour)

Kakadu National Park, the largest national park of Australia, which doesn't need much of an introduction:

  • Blue-winged Kookaburra, occuring in N Australia and S New Guinea. Most people in Australia are unaware of the two present species of kookaburra on the continent, this one being the more beatiful of the two (to my humble opinion). This species is less numerous then the Laughing Kookaburra (see location Deniliquin) which is native to the eastern half of Australia (it has been introduced to SW Western Australia). The Blue-winged Kookaburra is generally a bit more shy as the Laughing Kookaburra, and the former doesn't normally venture in urban areas, being more tied to tropical woodlands. Here a pair on the ground and here the male slamming a piece of food on a fallen trunk
  • Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeon, endemic to a restricted range in the Top End in Northern Territory, Australia. This species is a sister species to the White-quilled Rock-Pigeon (see location Victoria River Roadhouse). Like the latter species, the Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeon is a sandstone escarpment specialist. A reasonably common species in a habitat which can be difficult to reach, it can be best sought in the early morning before the heat starts to set in, when the birds take shelter and are harder to find
  • Comb-crested Jacana, occuring from W Indonesia to N and E Australia. This is one of only eight species of jacana's worldwide, which are known by their ability to walk on lilies and other floating vegetation. This is possible because of their long toes, which spread the weight of the bird over a larger area. This is a common species in its Australian range, where it can be found along the edges of lakes, swamps and lagoons
  • Partridge Pigeon, endemic to NE Western Australia and the Top End in N Northern Territory. This is the first video of this species for the IBC. There are two widely separated subspecies, the one in the Top End (smithii) having a red cere around the eye and the one of the Kimberley (blaauwi) having a yellow cere. This reasonably common species spends most of its time on the ground, which sometimes make it a bit tricky to find. But with perseverance it should't pose a real problem to find it. A good strategy is to drive along roads in open tropical woodlands where it favours patches of grass
  • White-lined Honeyeater, endemic to a restricted range in the Top End in N Northern Territory, Australia. This is the first video of this species for the IBC. A fairly common bird of the area, where it can primarily be found in wooded areas and gorges at or near sandstone escarpments
  • Rufous-banded Honeyeater, occuring in New Guinea and N Australia in two disjunct areas, namely the Top End and coastal Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. Only the second video of this species for the IBC. This species can be found in woodlands and bushes along/near swamps, mangroves and in riparian (riverside) forest, where it is a common bird
  • Helmeted Friarbird, as the Horned Friarbird (Philemon yorki, see location Daintree River) has recently been split off, this species can in the northern Top End, in N Northern Australia. Outside of Australia it can be found from the Lesser Sundas (Indonesia) to W New Guinea. The habitat of this species in Australia consists of sandstone escarpments (subspecies ammitophila) and mangroves (subspecies gordoni)
  • Brown Honeyeater, a common bird which can be found in New Guinea and large parts of Australia. It can be found in many types of wooded areas, including urban areas. Its song and calls are very loud and it behaves very conspiciously