Birding the Escarpment Country of Kakadu

Published: July 11th 2018
Edit Blog Post

We started a little bit later than I would have done on my own, having breakfast etc. in the room before heading out, but obviously I would never make it anywhere without a car anyway! We headed to a site in the North with a long a difficult to spell aboriginal name, though that doesn’t narrow it down much. Once you’ve got your head around the spelling they’re easy to pronounce though (Bardedjilidji). The rocks and scenery there really are amazing with the fantastic escarpment landscape and I managed to get a couple of the Kakadu speciality birds including the Sandstone Shrike Thrush. On the drive in though (just on the small road up to the car park) was the most amazing sighting of the morning: a Dingo right by the road! It didn’t recognise the car as a threat so just stood there and kind of rolled on the ground a bit and stretched before slowly trotting off. I got an amazing view from the car, but as soon as I tried to follow it on foot out of the car, it ran off as I was expecting. Really a fantastic sighting! This was about 9AM.

Also at Bardedjilidji, I got an unexpected surprise just in some dry forest on the ground. I was walking along and then suddenly out hopped a Rainbow Pitta! Just hopping along in the leaf litter. Pittas are supposed to be tricky birds! They shouldn’t just be hopping around everywhere, you Australian birders don’t know how easy you’ve got it. I was practically kicking pittas out of the way today (not really). I also could hear what was almost certainly a Banded Fruit Dove really close by but I just couldn’t see it. Other highlights of this walk included Crimson Finches which are lovely. But the juvenile is not illustrated in the Sclater Field Guide! It looks totally different to the adults, and I first got a super up-close view of two juveniles and had no idea what they were. I’m not all that pleased with the Sclater Field Guide. I’m using it because it’s the smallest one and I know a few people who use it for travelling purposes around Australia but I don’t rate it. The worst thing is the non-taxonomic order and I know this is a trend for Australian Field Guides. Why? Taxonomic order is great, all birders know it, all field guides use it in a mostly consistent way. Why is there this annoying thing that you’ve got to mess with it and put birds in the wrong parts of field guides. Seabirds should not just generally be crushed together and stuck at the front, it’s ridiculous. I wondered when I first saw some field guides ordered by habitat and bird type if it would be handy for easy comparison of birds, but now that I’m using it, I know it’s not. It just means that I’m constantly checking the index rather than being able to flick to roughly where that group of birds always is in a field guide because all field guides use the same order. I give non-taxonomic order a firm thumbs down for field guide purposes. Anyone disagree? I’m definitely feeling better with getting over my illness though, I’m almost back to normal so I’m back to complaining about things.

Anyway, we walked around that area for a while, there are a lot of tracks and camp grounds and stuff there, but it soon got to hot so we sat around in a small restauranty thing that was there until it was starting to cool down. Then we drove back to the same spot as we were at yesterday evening (Nourlangie), for another evening visit. Primarily (as far as I’m concerned this was the primary reason) to look for Black Wallaroos. Despite much searching towards sunset, I couldn’t find any. It is a lovely site though with a fantastic viewpoint. At Nourlangie is a huge massive rock there with various aboriginal art and lots of rocky landscapes and open forest. The raised viewpoint over the vast expanse of Kakadu is particularly stunning in the evening light. While walking around I found some Northern Rosellas, which I was pleased with (they’re a really cool looking rosella), as well as a massive Wedge-tailed Eagle Soaring above and on the drive up to the site some Black-tailed Treecreepers flew across the road and we could pull over so I could get a nice view (which is the main reason that buses suck!). This was one of my key species from that evening’s visit, two others which we missed being White-throated Grasswren and Red-backed Fairywren. We’re in Kakadu for the full day tomorrow and the morning after though so still have a chance.

Oh, and a question for Australians. When walking past people just on a path or something I will say something along the lines of ‘hello’ or ‘hi’ just purely for acknowledging the existence of other presumably sentient and living humans before never seeing them again. As is customary. However often, at least here in NT, they keep walking past (as expected) and as they pass respond with “G’day How’re you going?”. Am I correct in assuming this does not require a response and I can just now continue walking past. Because I can’t help but notice that’s a question and it’s phrased in a decidedly unrhetorical way.

I didn’t go spotlighting tonight because we’re doing a sunrise cruise at a wetland tomorrow (Yellow Waters) and it’s over an hour’s drive away and getting to a cruise that’s an hour away to be on a boat on a wetland at sunrise obviously requires an early start. Though I got distracted by the internet tonight and I’m not going to get to bed all that early after all! A 4:40AM alarm awaits…

And I think I’ve realised why these posts are shorter than the Malaysian ones too because this a fully written post from a fairly packed day and I’m not feeling all that sick anymore and it’s only just over a thousand words. ‘We drove to X’ requires far less logistical planning and discussion than anything I ever did in Malaysia!


(Note: this isn’t from today but I’ve just remembered I have split Torresian Kingfisher on my list from when I saw it two years ago so I’m splitting it here. I’m not, however, splitting ‘Sandstone’ and ‘Hornbill’ Friarbird which is Helmeted Friarbird from the Top End and FNQ respectively which I think is split by one of the lists now, but if I remember correctly from a while ago is totally unjustified? I’m not quite willing to sink that low for a tick :D)

Torresian Kingfisher

Sandstone Shrike-thrush

Grey-crowned Babbler

Rufous Whistler

Crimson Finch

Silver-crowned Friarbird

Varied Lorikeet

Black-eared Cuckoo

Black-tailed Treecreeper

Silver-backed Butcherbird

Wedge-tailed Eagle

Northern Rosella



Little Red Flying Fox

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


11th July 2018

Glad you’re feeling better
Great blog. Obviously feeling better.

Tot: 0.167s; Tpl: 0.011s; cc: 11; qc: 50; dbt: 0.0663s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.1mb