Trip Reports Archives - Kimberley Bird Watching

  • 10 Day Black Grasswren Tour – Accommodated

    From Broome to Derby we visited Taylor’s Lagoon, the Logue River and Willare Bridge on the Fitzroy River. We did well for raptors including good views of Black Falcon, Little Eagle, Black-breasted Buzzard and Square-tailed Kite. 27 Red-necked Avocets at the Logue River pool were an unexpected surprise. We finished the day off with a pair of Great-billed Herons at the Derby Wharf. The Derby mangroves in the vicinity of the wharf were quiet, perhaps the cool conditions had something to do with it, however Mangrove Golden Whistler, Broad-billed Flycatcher, Yellow White-eyes and Mangrove Grey Fantail showed well. Small flocks of Terek Sandpipers and Whimbrel were seen on the mudflats and the odd Eastern Curlew. The famous Derby Sewerage Works has undergone some drastic changes, however it was still worth a visit with well over thirty species recorded. Lovely views of White-throated Gerygone in nearby scrub made a good start. In the King Leopold Ranges on our way to Mt. Hart several small flocks of Pictorella Mannikins were recorded. After a comfortable night at Mt. Hart an early morning walk revealed several Australian Bustards promenading down the airstrip, and a Yellow Oriole feeding on Mulberries in the homestead gardens. A lunch stop on the Hann River, Gibb River Road, had a rather gory flavour as we witnessed a Brown Falcon capturing a Varied Lorikeet, which the Falcon proceeded to tear to pieces. Mt. Elizabeth Station is a wonderful birding location and our stay here enabled us to bird a few good spots. We were lucky enough to find 2 juvenile Gouldians but no adults! Seconds later in the same spot an adult male Northern Shrike Tit and Crested Bellbird were found. Masked Woodswallows were seen regularly in many different areas during our 10 day journey. Unfortunately we did not see any White-browed Woodswallows amongst them. Our visit to the Mitchell Plateau was a little disappointing as we failed to see the main target bird the Black Grasswren and it wasn’t for the want of trying! We did however find both …

  • Pelagic – Ashmore Reef

    The annual Pelagic Trip to Ashmore Reef aboard the Flying Fish Five continues to grow in popularity and considering the number of exciting species that we see including birds, cetaceans, turtles and sea snakes etc it is hardly surprising. In shallow water north of Broome lots of Terns including Roseate, Brown Boobies and Lesser Frigatebirds. Once in deep water on the second day we started to see Tahiti Petrels and Bulwer’s Petrel. We eventually saw all possible 3 Jaegers, Long-tailed, Pomerine and Arctic. Overall we saw lots of Storm Petrels including Matsudaira’s and Swinhoes. The cetacean highlight for the trip was the discovery of Fraser’s Dolphins amongst a large pod of Short-finned Pilot Whales and Spinner Dolphins. Calm conditions are ideal for spotting these animals and we were graced with several days of what the boaties term as a “glass off”. It was a fantastic trip for cetaceans with 8 species seen. Ashmore Reef itself was spectacular, we had access to all three islands care of Her Majesty’s Customs escorting us which was very good of them. This is an exclusive opportunity to witness the spectacular seabird breeding opportunities of Middle and East Island. As for rare vagrant birds on West Island, it’s hard to believe that we found two species of vagrants namely Asian Brown Flycatcher and Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler that were found last year. Had they stayed on the island from last year? Who knows? Everyone had excellent views of these two rare birds in an Australian territory. A pair of Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes were also on the Island and with further research there is a good chance they are actually Wallacian Cuckoo Shrikes—a close Indonesian relative to the common Australian bird. This trip is a MUST for any keen birdwatcher and worth every penny.

  • Wet Season Visit to Ashmore Reef

    A 10 day private trip to Ashmore Reef in January, 10 days of pure birdwatching. The journey from Darwin to Ashmore turned out to be a bit slow on the bird front. A few Crested Terns were seen loafing on floating bits of timber and several Brown Boobies were perched on navigator markers in Darwin harbour, then to my great excitement four Irrawaddi Dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) bobbed past the bow – unexpected to say the least. A few Lesser Frigatebirds and mixed flocks of Common and White-winged Black Terns were concentrating on baitfish, several Streaked Shearwaters seen later that afternoon. More cetacean excitement with a pod of 6 False Killer Whales followed shortly afterwards by several large pods of Tropical Spinner Dolphins (Stenella longirostris). At first light the following day I saw the first Sooty Terns of the trip quickly followed by 4 Pantropical Spotted Dolphins (Stenella attenuate). After a rushed breakfast – I didn’t want to miss any action – more Sooty Terns were seen and a Green Sea Turtle (Chilonias midas). By mid morning Common Noddies were mixed with Sooty Terns and excitement reached new levels with a superb view of one Tahiti Petrel. The extraordinary sight of two lemon migrant butterflies Catopsilia pomona pomona, which were living up to their name, this species was also recorded on Ashmore later on the trip. On the approach to Ashmore large numbers of birds were seen at sea, Lesser Frigatebirds, Sooty Terns, Common Noddies, Black Noddies and Great Frigatebird. After our arrival I investigated West Island, hot conditions seemed to slow the bird activity down. However a nice selection of species were found but unfortunately no vagrants. Birds recorded on West Island included Eastern Reef Egrets, with white morphs easily outnumbering grey birds. Other birds of the same genus included Little Egrets and 1 Great Egret. Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbirds were both breeding. Nine Oriental Cuckoos, a Sacred Kingfisher, a pair of Magpie Larks and several Buff Banded Rails were the only land birds seen. The Rails were splashing in …

  • 4 Day Dampier Peninsula

    A short 4 day trip from the 19th to 22nd April with Frances Taylor and Clare Gifford was a knockout trip. We found Gouldian Finches on the first day drinking at a puddle on the Cape Leveque Road and then again at our campsite over the next two days with a total of 23 birds observed. It’s great to see this species doing well on the Peninsula. Rose-crowned Fruit Doves showed very well and mangrove birds like Shining Flycatcher and Mangrove Golden Whistler were very obliging. The northern end of the Dampier Peninsula has such a range of rich habitats in close proximity that it’s entirely possible to see Beach Stone Curlew one minute, Gouldian Finch and Chestnut-backed Button Quail the next. Talking of these spectacular Button-Quail—we saw them too!! On the raptor front, Square-tailed Kites were seen regularly, often floating over dense mangrove forest. Sea Eagles, Brahminy Kites and Ospreys are incredibly common up here, it easy to become blasé about these handsome birds of prey. Our trip total was over 120 species with some cracking views of some rare and difficult ones. Good luck Clare & Frances on future birding trips.

  • 8 Day Mitchell Plateau Fly Drive

    Kimberley Birdwatching’s second year for this trip, its a great idea, you get a spectacular scenic flight to whet your appetite, you visit the plateau, see Black Grasswrens, then drive back to Broome via loads of gorges and beautiful country, birding all the way plus you get to meet the locals and enjoy home style cooking and catch up on the local gos – what more could you want! The October 2002 participants were Angela & Nick Blackwood from the UK but living in Melbourne and John & Pam Smallwood also from the UK. Literally as the party landed on the strip at the plateau a Square-tailed Kite flew over my vehicle and followed the line of tress behind the landing strip only to disappear out of sight as the group struggled out of the light plane “You should have been here two minutes earlier” was my rather hollow welcome, of course we didn’t see Square-tailed Kite again on the whole trip. In fact in my experience you’re lucky to see one at all, this late in the year. I welcomed everybody to the Mitchell Plateau, we bade farewell to the pilot, loaded up everyone’s bags and headed off to the Mitchell Falls—we had an urgent appointment with a Black Grasswren! On our arrival we were greeted by a small party of Yellow-faced Partridge Pigeons, well that’s a good start but it was warming up. We headed off to Little Mertens Falls, the pool below the falls looked very inviting and from here we did not move until it started to cool down. On our way to the swimming pool we found some nice birds, 20 Red-tailed Black Cockatoos making an awful racket while perched in some Woolybutts close to the creek A Northern Rosella and a few Sulphur crested Cockatoos. The rainforest patch below the falls was watched carefully with good results. An Emerald Dove, Brown Goshawk, Azure Kingfisher, Green-backed Gerygone, Yellow Oriole, White-lined, White-throated, Bar-breasted and White-gaped Honeyeaters all seen well. A family of Variegated Wrens worked the …

  • 8 Day Island and Inlet Cruise

    This charter was a unique opportunity to visit the Lacepede Islands and Adele Island. Both islands are A class reserve’s and are recognised internationally for their importance as seabird breeding sites and wintering areas for migratory shorebirds. The extraordinary number of seabirds breeding here defies belief. The Lacepedes is an extraordinary place, mating Green Sea Turtles greeting us to West Island. I must admit I feel sorry for the females having spent all night digging holes, laying eggs and as soon as they are back in the water they are accosted by randy males attempting to mate and in doing so drag them under the surface. We had a welcoming committee of several hundred immature Brown Boobies flying over the dingy within arms reach. Massive rafts of Common Noddies forming huge black patches on the beach. We saw Masked Boobies, lots of shorebirds, breeding Common Noddies—all in all a very exciting visit. With excursions to Secure Bay, South-east Twin Island, Rankin Island, Montgomery Reef and the Sale River, we took on a large part of the south-west of the Kimberley coast and certainly some of WA’s most spectacular scenery. The mangrove birds were particularly exciting, the Gallery Rainforest on the Sale River was fantastic with glimpses of Rainbow Pitta and the most beautiful fresh water swim. We left the best till last our visit to Adele Island some 150km due north of the mainland. One of the highlights was to dinghy over the surrounding reef on the incoming tide; a beautiful calm day allowed us with the water like glass. We had our very own aquarium, fish, sharks and turtles everywhere—it really was spectacular. The birdlife was also exciting with Wilson’s Storm Petrels, White-winged Black Terns and Black Noddies amongst the more numerous Brown Noddies—it was a very exciting morning, and that was before we even went ashore! Once on land we quickly found Red-footed Boobies and Great Frigate birds amongst 1000’s of their more common relative Lesser Frigatebird. Common Noddy and Bridled Terns were also breeding and the number …

  • July/Aug 16 Day Camping Best of the Kimberley

    A very exciting trip with keen English birders and a fast pace was set. We all worked hard and it paid off with some terrific sightings with a total trip list of 208 species. At Taylor’s Lagoon an excellent sighting of Black Falcon on our first morning set the standard followed by a lone Yellow-billed Spoonbill, a rare bird in the West Kimberley. However disaster struck, whilst we were driving to Willare Bridge only about an 1 hours drive out of Broome – a loud bang from under the bonnet of the land cruiser and a temp gauge in the red had my heart sinking. A major breakdown on the first day of a 16 day trip is my worst nightmare! The vehicle’s plastic fan blade had shattered but luckily apart from breaking the radiator cowling it had not touched the radiator itself, a miracle enabling us to nurse the cruiser to Derby where we replaced the fan and cowing and were mobile by the next morning. The Derby Wharf and mangroves were reasonably productive with Great-billed Heron being almost a sure thing at this location in 2002. We struggled a bit with mangrove birds initially but our persistence paid off with cracking views of male Mangrove Golden Whistler and Broad-billed Flycatcher, the Kimberley Flycatcher i.e. lemon breasted race, tormenti, we ended up having to kick it out of the way! a female White-breasted Whistler obliged us, the male shy and we made do with half views. A flock of 30 Star Finches on the roadside at the King Leopold Ranges really hit the spot and things were looking a whole lot better. Several remote camp spots about the Leopold Ranges saw our bird list grow with great views of Azure Kingfisher, White-quilled Rock Pigeon, Silver-crowned Friarbirds, Blue-faced Honeyeaters & Yellow-throated Miners. The widespread golden-backed race of Black-chinned Honeyeater was added to a list of 7 honeyeater species seen in the Bell Creek vicinity alone. Little Button Quail, Masked Finch, Crimson Finch & Pictorella Mannikins were all seen well on …

  • George Swann

    Your Guide - George Swann

    George was born in England and emigrated to Australia in 1984. He has lived in Broome since 1989 and established Kimberley Birdwatching in 1993.

    Through many years of fieldwork, George has gained tremendous knowledge of the natural history of the Kimberley, including bird distribution and behaviour, with the emphasis on rare, endangered and poorly known species.

    George is a professional bird guide, with a passionate interest in the natural history and ecology of the region. He is a resourceful bushman and an infectiously enthusiastic travelling companion.

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    PO Box 220, Broome 6725, Western Australia
    Phone: (08) 9192 1246
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    Email: info@kimberleybirdwatching.com.au
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