A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Australia Part 2 2023

October 17-November 1, 2023 with John Coons & Cory Gregory guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
Australia has several species with the word "Rainbow" in the name and that's always a good omen! Here is a Rainbow Bee-eater overlooking its local patch, hunting for bees and other large insects. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

The Land Down Under, situated more southerly than most countries, is an island nation that's truly a dynamic destination for birders. In fact, it's hard to summarize such an epic trip to an incredible place filled with new sights, sounds, and birds. From the steamy and tropical Northern Territory, the Atherton Tableland and rainforest around Cairns, the arid Georgetown area, and to the lush forests in southern Queensland, this half of our Australia offering is a species-rich bonanza and I'm glad you could all be along with us in 2023.

We started in Darwin where the warmth met us at the airport. Straight away we had some great sightings such as Little Curlews literally at the airport! Over the next several days we were all eyes and ears as new birds started popping up all around us; Torresian Imperial-Pigeons, various mangrove specialties, colorful honeyeaters, numerous herons and egrets, cuckoos, and even Chestnut Rail. During our time in Darwin we visited a number of hotspots such as Fogg Dam, Manton Dam, the shorelines of Buffalo Creek and Lee Point, the Adelaide River, Knuckey's Lagoon, and many other spots. One by one we successfully found our targets: Black-tailed Treecreeper, Arafura Fantail, Black-tailed Whistler, Rainbow Pitta, Mangrove Gerygone, Bar-breasted Honeyeater, Silver-backed Butcherbird, and of course the raucous Red-collared Lorikeets. We even came across a couple of Asian Dowitchers at Knuckey Lagoon! At Fogg Dam we added White-browed Crake and a variety of other marsh birds while nearby roadsides had a number of Australian Pratincoles, Pacific Swifts, various songlarks, and Silver-crowned Friarbirds.

From there we had a quick flight east to Cairns where we got to bird along the famous Cairns Esplanade. We added Mangrove Robin, Torresian Kingfisher, and a variety of fun shorebirds right across the road from our hotel! In the evening, a stream of Spectacled Flying-Foxes would filter through downtown and feed on fruit along the coast. We also spent time on the Atherton Tablelands which yielded some range-restricted highlights like Golden Bowerbird, Bower's Shrikethrush, Atherton Scrubwren, and many others. We ventured westward to Georgetown, spotting an Emu en route, where we spent a couple of days amongst the finches, waterbirds, and bustards. It was a lot of fun watching the show of hundreds of birds swarming to the waterholes including specialties like Cockatiels, wild budgies, and some Plum-headed and Black-throated finches. Whether it was the Red-browed Pardalote or the unearthly Tawny Frogmouths in town, the dry country was a great addition to our trip.

O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat. That was the main attraction after we flew south to Brisbane and boy oh boy, new birds came fast and furious there! We spotted Logrunners quietly foraging on the ground, an Albert's Lyrebird strolling through the rainforest, White-browed and Yellow-browed scrubwrens at our feet, and even a high singing Noisy Pitta. Meanwhile the birds around the headquarters were as flashy as they come; Satin and Regent bowerbirds, Crimson Rosellas, and Wonga Pigeons waddled by. Best keep your food close though. What a fun place!

Some of us continued to Tasmania, an island state and destination that added a whole new array of targets and special endemics. The temperatures were brisk and cool, the mountain scenery beautiful, the mammals curious and strange, and the birds different and unique from others we had seen. Our time at the Mountain Valley Lodge and nearby forest was filled with sightings of Dusky Robin, Green Rosellas, Scrubtits, Tasmanian Scrubwrens, Tasmanian Thornbills, Tasmanian Boobooks, and of course some impressive mammals such as Platypus, Common Wombat, Tasmanian Pademelon, and of course the amazing and rare Tasmanian Devil! Bruny Island delivered and in a big way; we added Blue-winged Parrot, Swift Parrot, and finally the rare Forty-spotted Pardalote! Meanwhile, some coastal birds made it on to the list as well including Hooded Plover, Australasian Gannet, Pacific Gull, Little Penguin, Black-faced Cormorant, and Black-browed Albatross.

And so whether it was quietly searching for lyrebirds, spending a tranquil evening with boobooks, chasing after butterflies, exploring deep within the rainforest searching for frogmouths, watching Emus standing along the roadside, or enjoying hundreds of birds coming to drink at waterholes, the highlights were numerous and awe-inspiring. We truly hope you have made memories that last a lifetime! I know John and I thoroughly enjoyed showing Australia to you and, until we hopefully see you on another Field Guides trip, and on behalf of Karen and the rest of the Field Guides crew, be safe and good birding!

—Cory (The Curlew)

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Casuariidae (Cassowaries and Emu)

SOUTHERN CASSOWARY (Casuarius casuarius)

One of the most amazing birds of the world, this denizen of the rainforest was finally seen at Etty Bay. We watched as this giant picked through various fruits in a campsite before taking a stroll down along the beach. Whew! This flightless species has gone through serious declines in recent years due to loss of habitat and car collisions.

EMU (Dromaius novaehollandiae)

This is another giant, flightless species of bird we found! Our encounter came as we were driving in the Georgetown area and we were able to pull over and watch it well off the road. A special bird with an important history, these are quite tall! In fact, only the Ostrich is taller.

Anseranatidae (Magpie Goose)

MAGPIE GOOSE (Anseranas semipalmata)

This odd species was abundant in the Darwin area.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

PLUMED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna eytoni)

Although we saw numbers of these attractive ducks at places like Knuckey Lagoon and Cumberland Dam, we tallied an impressive 600 at Hasties Swamp!

WANDERING WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna arcuata)

Many of the wetlands we visited on the first half of the trip hosted this species: Knuckey Lagoon, Fogg Dam, Manton Dam, Hasties Swamp, and more.

CAPE BARREN GOOSE (Cereopsis novaehollandiae)

Tasmania only. This chunky specialty of southern Australia was tallied on our second day in Tasmania at a pond along Illawarra Road. Overall, with a total population of less than 15,000, this is one of the rarest geese in the world.

BLACK SWAN (Cygnus atratus)

Large, common, and distinctive. This species was tallied a number of times including an impressive 130+ at Warruma Swamp

RADJAH SHELDUCK (Radjah radjah)

Fairly common in the right habitat during the Darwin portion of our trip.

AUSTRALIAN SHELDUCK (Tadorna tadornoides)

Tasmania only. There was more than a dozen of these attractive dabblers at the roadside pond with the Cape Barren Geese.

GREEN PYGMY-GOOSE (Nettapus pulchellus)

The more common of the two pygmy-geese. We saw these duck-sized geese at a variety of places such as Knuckey Lagoon, Manton Dam, Innot Hot Springs, and Warruma Swamp. Interestingly, this species nests in tree hollows!

COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE (Nettapus coromandelianus)

This is an uncommon species, but we were lucky and found a nice gathering of them at Innot Hot Springs and then more at Warruma Swamp.

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One of the many species seen around the Darwin area on our trip was the odd and unique Magpie Goose. Here is one on lookout duty. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

MANED DUCK (Chenonetta jubata)

Fairly common, we had a scattering of sightings especially later in the trip. Sometimes called Australian Wood Duck.

PACIFIC BLACK DUCK (Anas superciliosa)

Common throughout.

MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos) [I]

Tasmania only. We saw at least one Mallard that looked to be pure enough to count but there were a lot of domestics around too.

GRAY TEAL (Anas gracilis)

Not as flashy as some ducks. This dabbler was seen at a number of places but especially Durham Dam, Cumberland Dam, and in Tasmania.

CHESTNUT TEAL (Anas castanea)

Tasmania only. A striking species, these were seen just a couple of times; first at Lillico Beach and then again at Lake Dulverton.

PINK-EARED DUCK (Malacorhynchus membranaceus)

It was fantastic to see these! Numbers of this species vary widely based on weather conditions and this year it was obvious that finding these was going to be a challenge. Still, we found three at Durham Dam. It's been suggested that this species is the only one in the Anseriformes order known to have carotenoid pigments in its feathers (in the hard-to-see pink spot).

HARDHEAD (Aythya australis)

This Aythya species was fairly common in the right habitat. We tallied numbers from Hasties Swamp, Innot Hot Springs, Warruma Swamp, and others. This is in the same genus as scaup, Redhead, Pochard, Canvasback, and others.

BLUE-BILLED DUCK (Oxyura australis)

Tasmania only. It was only at Lake Dulverton that we encountered a couple of these. This stifftail in the same genus as Ruddy Duck.

MUSK DUCK (Biziura lobata)

Tasmania only. A really strange species, the systematics of this duck have always been uncertain. We saw a couple at the Illawarra Road Pond and Lake Dulverton.

Megapodiidae (Megapodes)


A friendly and common ground-dweller during our time along the coast of Queensland.

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Our tour saw more than 30 species of shorebirds! One of the flashier ones was this fan favorite, the Black-fronted Dotterel. Photo by participant Kim Nelson.

ORANGE-FOOTED MEGAPODE (Megapodius reinwardt)

The former name is Orange-footed Scrubfowl but it's been changed to highlight the fact that it is indeed a megapode. These were a common sight in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)

BROWN QUAIL (Synoicus ypsilophorus)

This is a widespread species but you'd never know it. Although it takes luck to bump into this secretive quail, we had a quick look at a covey at Cumberland Dam near Georgetown but they didn't stay in view for long.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

AUSTRALASIAN GREBE (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae)

This tiny grebe was fairly common in wetlands of both the NT and Queensland.

HOARY-HEADED GREBE (Poliocephalus poliocephalus)

Tasmania only. We had a whopping 30-40 of these attractive grebes at Lake Dulverton.

GREAT CRESTED GREBE (Podiceps cristatus)

Lake Barrine in Crater Lakes National Park had a nice group on the far side, at least 20.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

Common around the Cairns area.

WHITE-HEADED PIGEON (Columba leucomela)

Seen at both Lake Eacham and O'Reilly's. At one point we had wonderful scope looks at some perched high up in a tree at O'Reilly's. This species is only found along the east coast of Australia.

SPOTTED DOVE (Spilopelia chinensis) [I]

This introduced species was seen in a neighborhood near the Barron River Mouth.

BROWN CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia phasianella)

Although these can be hard to get a look at sometimes, this stocky brown species was tallied a couple of times including at Lake Eacham and Mount Hypipamee National Park.

COMMON BRONZEWING (Phaps chalcoptera)

A group of these was attending the water at Western Creek Station Dam. They were flighty, however, as they often are.

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The various doves and pigeons really added a colorful bunch of birds to our list. Here is the handsome Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, a species we saw numerous times. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

BRUSH BRONZEWING (Phaps elegans)

Tasmania only. On one of our morning walks at the Mountain Valley Lodge, we heard and then got quick looks at this chunky species.

CRESTED PIGEON (Ocyphaps lophotes)

Wow, this pigeon really does have a big crest! This is a fantastic Australian species and they were common in the dry country near Georgetown.

SQUATTER PIGEON (Geophaps scripta)

We managed looks at these just a couple of times as they strolled down to water at Cumberland Dam, Durham Dam, and Western Creek Station Dam.

WONGA PIGEON (Leucosarcia melanoleuca)

There is perhaps no better place to get good looks at this attractive species than O'Reilly's! We saw them on each of our days there.

DIAMOND DOVE (Geopelia cuneata)

This tiny species, with a red eyering, was found gathering at the waterholes near Georgetown.

PEACEFUL DOVE (Geopelia placida)

An abundant and widespread dove through the first half of Part II.

BAR-SHOULDERED DOVE (Geopelia humeralis)

This was another abundant and widespread species in Darwin, Cairns, and Georgetown. Although in the same genus, this dove is a fair bit larger than the previous two.

WOMPOO FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus magnificus)

A beautiful, rainforest species that was heard more often than seen. We had looks near Lake Eacham, Mount Hypipamee, and the Longlands Gap spot. This species can be found north into PNG as well.

SUPERB FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus superbus)

An uncommon fruit-dove, this hard-to-spot species was found by Nancy high up in a tree at Mount Hypipamee National Park. Good spotting!

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Upon landing in Darwin, it doesn't take much time before you're seeing these classy, black-and-white pigeons rocketing around and perched on powerlines and neighborhood trees. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

ROSE-CROWNED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus regina)

A truly beautiful dove of northern and eastern Australia, these were seen at a number of locations such as Buffalo Point, East Point, Fogg Dam, and others.


This is a huge, black-and-white pigeon that was abundant throughout our time in Darwin and Cairns. The low and resonant song was a common and somewhat eerie sound in a variety of habitats.

TOPKNOT PIGEON (Lopholaimus antarcticus)

Always a favorite, this wild-looking pigeon was seen quite well at Lake Eacham but also O'Reilly's and Behana Gorge.

Otididae (Bustards)

AUSTRALIAN BUSTARD (Ardeotis australis)

Bustards are so interesting! The Georgetown area hosted several of these regal-looking ground-dwellers and we even saw them coming in to drink at Durham Dam.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

PACIFIC KOEL (AUSTRALIAN) (Eudynamys orientalis cyanocephalus)

This is a chunky cuckoo that we heard at Innot Hot Springs and the Barron River Mouth but they remained rather hard to see. The males are a striking black color.

CHANNEL-BILLED CUCKOO (Scythrops novaehollandiae)

This impressive species is the largest cuckoo in the world and is also the largest brood parasite in the world. We had an extended look at one at Innot Hot Springs where it remained in view for nearly our whole visit!

HORSFIELD'S BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx basalis)

We had a nice, proper look at this species as it was foraging low and relatively out in the open at Fogg Dam. We could appreciate the fieldmarks, such as the white behind the eye, at close range.

SHINING BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx lucidus)

We found singletons here and there; between Longlands Gap and Forty Mile Scrub, and then again in Tasmania.

LITTLE BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx minutillus)

We got a couple views of some at East Point at the start of the tour.

LITTLE BRONZE-CUCKOO (GOULD'S) (Chrysococcyx minutillus russatus)

Once we flew to Cairns, the Little Bronze-Cuckoos there belonged to this range-restricted subspecies.

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Not all the doves are giant and flashy, some are small and more subtle. One common species in that category was the lovely Peaceful Dove. Here's one sitting tight, photographed by guide Cory Gregory.

PALLID CUCKOO (Cacomantis pallidus)

Seen briefly on Day 2 and then again a couple of times in Tasmania only.

FAN-TAILED CUCKOO (Cacomantis flabelliformis)

Fairly common in Tasmania, but we also found one at the Forty Mile Scrub which gave us good views.

BRUSH CUCKOO (Cacomantis variolosus)

Perhaps our best look was from Lee Point at the very start of the trip.

Podargidae (Frogmouths)

TAWNY FROGMOUTH (Podargus strigoides)

These really are a master of camouflage! We saw these oddballs twice; first at the caravan park in Georgetown, and then another out in the dry forest near Aurora Creek. Of all the frogmouths in Australia, this is the most widespread.

MARBLED FROGMOUTH (PLUMED) (Podargus ocellatus plumiferus)

On our nighttime adventure at O'Reilly's, we found a couple of these rare birds deep in the forest. We got to hear the eerie songs and even see one! This subspecies is extremely limited in range.

Apodidae (Swifts)

WHITE-THROATED NEEDLETAIL (Hirundapus caudacutus)

A rare bird to bump into but we did just that, twice, both on the same day. First was at Lake Eacham where photos confirmed the ID, and then again at the Curtain Fig Tree along the road. This species only winters in Australia while it's colder farther north in Asia where it nests.

AUSTRALIAN SWIFTLET (Aerodramus terraereginae)

Although we saw a few here and there, it wasn't until the Cairns Esplanade that we saw a whole swarm (60+). This is the most common of the swifts most of Australia.

PACIFIC SWIFT (Apus pacificus)

We were driving down the Arnhem Highway near Darwin when all of a sudden we found ourselves under a whole swarm of these! We got out and watched as several large groups passed by. Between 150-200 were seen just there!

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

CHESTNUT RAIL (Gallirallus castaneoventris)

This is a rare and hard-to-find mangrove specialist. We checked the mangroves near Buffalo Creek and some folks heard it, while some other folks even got a quick glimpse. Overall though, what a tough bird.

BUFF-BANDED RAIL (Gallirallus philippensis)

We chanced into this secretive marsh bird at Innot Hot Springs and randomly along a roadside in Cairns.

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The largest species of cuckoo in the world is this guy right here, the Channel-billed Cuckoo. We couldn't have gotten better looks at this time; it stayed in view for 20 minutes! Photo provided by participant Kim Nelson.

TASMANIAN NATIVEHEN (Tribonyx mortierii)

Tasmania only. This essentially flightless endemic was quite common throughout our time in Tasmania. Tallied daily, these were often seen walking and galloping through pastures and nearby marsh edges.

DUSKY MOORHEN (Gallinula tenebrosa)

Innot Hot Springs was hosting more than a dozen of these red-billed marsh birds.

EURASIAN COOT (Fulica atra)

Fairly common in freshwater wetlands and marshes.

AUSTRALASIAN SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio melanotus melanotus)

This big species was in the Purple Swamphen complex but it was split out to a full species a while back. Fairly common in freshwater wetlands and marshes.

WHITE-BROWED CRAKE (Poliolimnas cinereus)

We caught up with this small skulker a couple of times actually. First, it was at the treatment ponds near Buffalo Creek where not one or two, but 3 flushed below us. We were fortunate to find this species again as they ran through the floating vegetation at Fogg Dam.

Gruidae (Cranes)

SARUS CRANE (Antigone antigone)

A flock of 14 of these regal birds was found at Bromfield Swamp. We even got to hear them as they were flying around!

BROLGA (Antigone rubicunda)

An impressive species; these were found at Fogg Dam, albeit rather distantly.

Burhinidae (Thick-knees)

BUSH THICK-KNEE (Burhinus grallarius)

What a fantastic, big-eyed shorebird. We came face-to-face with these in Darwin around East Point. Later on we would occasionally see them along roadsides and would hear them after dark.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

PIED STILT (Himantopus leucocephalus)

A tall, lanky, black-and-white shorebird that we saw nicely at Knuckey Lagoon, Cumberland Dam, Durham Dam, and a number of other wetlands throughout the main portion of the tour.

Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

PIED OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus longirostris)

This big and flashy shorebird was fairly common for us and we had our first encounter at East Point in Darwin. We'd go on to see them at a number of coastal spots including beaches in Tasmania.

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For those who continued on to Tasmania after the main tour, a common sight was this oddball, the almost-flightless Tasmanian Nativehen. We got smashing looks many times! Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

SOOTY OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus fuliginosus)

Stocky and all black, this shorebird was first seen around Darwin and then later on in Tasmania.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

Both Buffalo Creek and Lee Point hosted this migratory shorebird.


Fairly common at East Point near Darwin where we tallied about a dozen. We'd see more in Cairns along the esplanade.

BANDED LAPWING (Vanellus tricolor)

Two of these fancy shorebirds were seen on the flats at Cumberland Dam. They're very rare at that spot but we're thankful for that encounter because they were our only ones.

MASKED LAPWING (Vanellus miles)

Ubiquitous. Widespread and one of the most common species we saw.

SIBERIAN SAND-PLOVER (Anarhynchus mongolus)

Note the new name (and genus). Formerly called Lesser Sand-Plover. We enjoyed a flock of 30 at East Point near Darwin and then a couple more in Cairns.

GREATER SAND-PLOVER (Charadrius leschenaultii)

East Point near Darwin and the Cairns Esplanade were the main spots we scoped this larger sand-plover.

RED-CAPPED PLOVER (Charadrius ruficapillus)

Our first pair of this classy plover was seen nicely at the Barron River Mouth. However, it wasn't until the Cairns Esplanade that we found 15-20.

ORIENTAL PLOVER (Charadrius veredus)

We saw a distant shorebird in the grassland near Anzac Parade that looked good for this species.

RED-KNEED DOTTEREL (Erythrogonys cinctus)

A very nicely marked plover, this species was tallied twice; first at Hasties Swamp and then again at Durham Dam.

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A sharply-marked and classy plover we saw in Cairns was Red-capped Plover. This species is nearly completely limited to Australia. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

HOODED PLOVER (Thinornis cucullatus)

Tasmania only. A quiet, sandy beach in Adventure Bay was home to a pair of this uncommon but flashy shorebird.

BLACK-FRONTED DOTTEREL (Elseyornis melanops)

Common in the appropriate habitat.

Jacanidae (Jacanas)

COMB-CRESTED JACANA (Irediparra gallinacea)

Fogg Dam had an impressive 30-40 of these in the vegetated wetland. Overall though, these were fairly common throughout the NT and Queensland.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus)

This curlew was seen a number of times including at Buffalo Creek, Lee Point, East Point, and the Cairns Esplanade. The subspecies here, variegatus/rogachevae, is the Siberian one with a paler rump/back.

LITTLE CURLEW (Numenius minutus)

It was a fantastic start to the trip when 10-20 of these small and slender curlews were spotted on the runway at the Darwin airport!

FAR EASTERN CURLEW (Numenius madagascariensis)

Would you have guessed that this species is often cited as the largest shorebird species in the world? They sure were huge! We enjoyed them a number of times including at Buffalo Creek and the Cairns Esplanade.

BAR-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa lapponica)

The Cairns Esplanade was hosting and impressive 50-75 of these.


Ugh, this species really turned into a pain this year. Still, a couple people got a decent look at one along the Cairns Esplanade but it turns out that would be our only one.

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

This familiar shorebird was tallied at East Point and again at the Barron River Mouth.

GREAT KNOT (Calidris tenuirostris)

This medium-sized shorebird, which is a common wintering species here, was seen by the dozen along the Cairns Esplanade.

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It took methodical, careful watching but most of us were rewarded with looks at this skulker, White-browed Crake! Photographed by guide Cory Gregory at Fogg Dam.

RED KNOT (Calidris canutus)

We picked out one of these tucked away amongst the Great Knots along the Cairns Esplanade.

SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER (Calidris acuminata)

Although the Cairns Esplanade hosted the most (about 50), these wintering shorebirds were also seen at Knuckey Lagoon, Hasties Swamp, Durham Dam, etc.

CURLEW SANDPIPER (Calidris ferruginea)

Our visits to the Cairns Esplanade usually yielded 1-3 of these long-billed sandpipers. These too only winter here.

RED-NECKED STINT (Calidris ruficollis)

East Point and the Lota Foreshore were a couple of spots we scoped this species of peep. In fact, this species is the only expected species of peep here.

ASIAN DOWITCHER (Limnodromus semipalmatus)

One of the highlights of the entire trip for some was finding a couple of these rare shorebirds at Knuckey Lagoon. It took a careful study but in the end we had definitive looks at this medium-sized shorebird. Excellent!

TEREK SANDPIPER (Xenus cinereus)

A fan favorite for some of us, this peculiar shorebird has a long, upward swept bill. We saw some distantly at East Point and then again in Cairns, but our visit to the Lota Foreshore delivered a whopping 61 of these!

COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos)

Seen occasionally along the shorelines at spots like East Point, Buffalo Creek, Knuckey Lagoon, and the Barron River Mouth. This is the Old World version of the Spotted Sandpiper many of us know from the US.

GRAY-TAILED TATTLER (Tringa brevipes)

Unlike the following species, this pale-bellied migrant shorebird often prefers to feed on flat mudflats. A spot like the Cairns Esplanade was perfect and we tallied 10-20 there.


This was a rather uncommon find! We were at Etty Bay, hoping for a cassowary, when we found a tattler sticking to a cluster of rocks along the shoreline. Careful study showed the nasal grove extended about 2/3rds the length of the bill (instead of 1/2 the length of the bill on Gray-tailed), and also no white behind the eye.

COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia)

Seen just once, surprisingly. Our visit to East Point near Darwin was our only encounter with this stocky Tringa.

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By far, the most numerous gull found in Australia is this sharp, red-billed species, the Silver Gull. We had repeated great looks at this widespread species. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

MARSH SANDPIPER (Tringa stagnatilis)

A very slender and classy Tringa, this migrant species was seen at Knuckey Lagoon and Hasties Swamp.

Turnicidae (Buttonquail)


We were descending from O'Reilly's when all of a sudden a clump of feathers in the middle of the road turned into an alive-and-well buttonquail! We managed to not hit it with the bus but unfortunately not everyone got a glimpse before it scooted down the hillside.

Glareolidae (Pratincoles and Coursers)


It was a very good trip for this lovely species (which isn't technically a shorebird). We found a number of them at spots like Knuckey Lagoon, Fogg Dam, and Durham Dam.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

SILVER GULL (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae)

Common around the coast.

PACIFIC GULL (Larus pacificus)

Tasmania only. This large gull, with a black tail, has a massive bill! We only saw these a couple of times.

KELP GULL (Larus dominicanus)

Tasmania only. Not uncommon at coastal spots like Bruny Island and the like.

LITTLE TERN (Sternula albifrons)

We saw a dozen of these offshore at East Point and then again at the Barron River Mouth and then a youngster at the Cairns Esplanade.

GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica)

Note the taxonomic changes of this and the following species. Gull-billed Tern has recently been split and one of the resulting terns keeps the name Gull-billed Tern. We saw these around Darwin.

AUSTRALIAN TERN (Gelochelidon macrotarsa)

This is a new species, recently split out from Gull-billed Tern. We saw these around Cairns.

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)

Seen a couple of times in Cairns and the Barron River Mouth.

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Of the two species of spoonbills found in Australia, the Royal Spoonbill, with their black bills, is much more numerous than the Yellow-billed. Here's a flock of Royal Spoonbills in flight overhead. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida)

Fairly common in a variety of habitats. We tallied more than 40 in the one flock that flew over the Adelaide River.

GREAT CRESTED TERN (Thalasseus bergii)

Seen only a couple of times around Darwin.

Spheniscidae (Penguins)

LITTLE PENGUIN (Eudyptula minor)

Tasmania only. We stopped at the Lillico Beach Viewing Platform which had a variety of nesting boxes for this species. At the right angle, we were able to see in and watch the penguins inside.

Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)

BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS (Thalassarche melanophris)

Tasmania only. We scoped a couple of these distantly from the Lillico Beach Viewing Platform.

Ciconiidae (Storks)

BLACK-NECKED STORK (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus)

Singletons were seen at Buffalo Creek, Fogg Dam, and Cumberland Dam.

Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)


Tasmania only. This was another species we scoped offshore from Adventure Bay.

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

AUSTRALASIAN DARTER (Anhinga novaehollandiae)

Common in the right habitat.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

LITTLE PIED CORMORANT (Microcarbo melanoleucos)

This small, black-and-white species was fairly common throughout the trip.

GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)

This big, all-black species was common at some of the waterholes we visited.

LITTLE BLACK CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris)

Tiny, and all black, this species was fairly common at stops like Knuckey Lagoon, Hasties Swamp, and many of the ponds near Georgetown.

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One of the most iconic and most-coveted species in Australia is none other than the Southern Cassowary. Seemingly half dinosaur, this incredible species strolled out of the rainforest and gave everyone stupendous views. We'll never forget our experience with this guy! Photo by participant Kim Nelson.

BLACK-FACED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax fuscescens)

Tasmania only. This range-restricted cormorant was seen nicely on the day we took the ferry over to Bruny Island.

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

AUSTRALIAN PELICAN (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

This big, black-and-white pelican was tallied only a couple of times including at Fred Bucholz Park and the Cairns Esplanade.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

PACIFIC HERON (Ardea pacifica)

Singletons were seen at various spots like Bromfield Swamp, Cumberland Dam, Durham Dam, and others. Formerly called "White-necked Heron".

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Fairly common.

PLUMED EGRET (Ardea plumifera)

Formerly part of the Intermediate Egret complex. Now, this species is the one found in Australia. We found quite a few of these at a variety of spots.

WHITE-FACED HERON (Egretta novaehollandiae)

Fairly common and seen nicely at the Cairns Esplanade.

LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta)

The Old World version of our Snowy Egret. These were seen at Knuckey Lagoon, Cumberland Dam, the Cairns Esplanade, and others.

PACIFIC REEF-HERON (Egretta sacra)

Only seen once and that was at East Point in Darwin at the start of the trip.

PIED HERON (Egretta picata)

Knuckey Lagoon and Fogg Dam had several of these small herons.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

Common, seen most days.

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The Little Corella, which is a type of cockatoo, was seen nicely in the Darwin area. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata)

Similar to the Green Herons in the US, these small guys were spotted a few times around Darwin.

NANKEEN NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus)

Hasties Swamp had one of these perched back in the vegetation.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)

This is an all-dark ibis that we saw at Knuckey Lagoon and Fogg Dam.

AUSTRALIAN IBIS (Threskiornis molucca)

Common, seen most days.

STRAW-NECKED IBIS (Threskiornis spinicollis)

Like the previous species, these were common.

ROYAL SPOONBILL (Platalea regia)

This species, with a dark bill, was the more expected spoonbill on our trip.


Durham Dam had a trio of these briefly which was a great sighting since these are generally rare.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

Common around the coast.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE (Elanus axillaris)

This black-and-white, slender kite was picked out as we were driving near Lake Barrine.

BLACK-BREASTED KITE (Hamirostra melanosternon)

This is a hard-to-find species! Still, Ahmet somehow picked one out high above us at Manton Dam!

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Another cockatoo we enjoyed was Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo. The females, like this one, are intricately marked with yellow spots. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

PACIFIC BAZA (Aviceda subcristata)

This crested raptor was scoped nicely at Innot Hot Springs.


Seen occasionally but most of our sightings came from Tasmania.

SWAMP HARRIER (Circus approximans)

This white-rumped harrier was seen once on the main tour and then several times in Tasmania.

SPOTTED HARRIER (Circus assimilis)

This is a fairly rare bird but we bumped into one along East Barron Road in Queensland.

GRAY GOSHAWK (Accipiter novaehollandiae)

This stocky raptor was seen straight away at Lee Point in Darwin. Some folks saw one later on as well.

BROWN GOSHAWK (Accipiter fasciatus)

Seen at Fogg Dam and Innot Hot Springs.

COLLARED SPARROWHAWK (Accipiter cirrocephalus)

We were taking our day trip at O'Reilly's when one of these flushed in front of us and then flew off to the left over an open field.

BLACK KITE (Milvus migrans)

Abundant, seen most days.

WHISTLING KITE (Haliastur sphenurus)

Although not as abundant as the previous species, these were also common during the first half of the trip.

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One of the perks of staying at O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat is enjoying sunsets from your balcony while listening to bowerbirds and currawongs. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

BRAHMINY KITE (Haliastur indus)

Although tallied on just a couple of days, we had superb looks at this drop-dead gorgeous raptor in the Darwin area. This is a mostly coastal species where they often feed by scavenging on dead fish.

WHITE-BELLIED SEA-EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

This regal raptor was seen perched at Knuckey Lagoon and then flying several times later on. These are big guys; females can have wingspans bigger than 7 feet.

Strigidae (Owls)

BARKING OWL (Ninox connivens)

A little jaunt off the path at Fogg Dam, predawn, yielded a great look at one of these overhead!

TASMANIAN BOOBOOK (Ninox leucopsis)

Tasmania only. Seen nicely at our lodge at Mountain Valley. Some folks even saw one on the ground in the middle of the night near their patio.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)


Seen by some at Buffalo Creek right as we were beginning the trip. Later on some folks caught another glimpse or two but the birds never fully cooperated.

LAUGHING KOOKABURRA (Dacelo novaeguineae)

A common and classic mainstay of Australia, it wouldn't be a trip without them! This huge kingfisher was introduced to Tasmania where we saw them as well.


We had a few scattered sightings in the Northern Territory and near Georgetown where Laughing Kookaburras are not present.

RED-BACKED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus pyrrhopygius)

It took a little effort but we eventually tracked down a couple of these at Cumberland Dam near Georgetown.

FOREST KINGFISHER (Todiramphus macleayii)

Common during our time in the Northern Territory and Queensland, this blue-backed kingfisher isn't tied to water and can be seen in a variety of dry habitats.

TORRESIAN KINGFISHER (Todiramphus sordidus)

A mangrove specialist, this large-billed kingfisher was seen nicely at the beach at East Point and then again at the Cairns Esplanade, Centenary Lakes, and the Barron River Mouth.

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One of the most memorable moments of the trip came late one night when we took a foray deep into the rainforest at O'Reilly's. It was there that we found one of the most range-restricted specialty in the region, the Marbled Frogmouth. Turning off our lights and standing there, listening to these sing is a memory I'll never forget. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

SACRED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus sanctus)

Not an abundant kingfisher for us on this tour, only a few sightings of this widespread species were called out; first at East Point, then Yorkeys Lagoon, and lastly the Lota Foreshore.

Meropidae (Bee-eaters)

RAINBOW BEE-EATER (Merops ornatus)

A pugnacious, vibrant, often common, and beautiful companion we had during the first half of our tour.

Coraciidae (Rollers)

DOLLARBIRD (Eurystomus orientalis)

This species, which is in the roller family, was fairly common during the first half of the tour and we had sightings most days.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

NANKEEN KESTREL (Falco cenchroides)

Although it seemed that most of our sightings came when we were in transit, this falcon was spotted a few times in Queensland including a couple of times near Georgetown. Formerly called Australian Kestrel.

BROWN FALCON (Falco berigora)

A rather odd falcon, and one that doesn't behave much like others in the family, these were spotted only a few times. Cumberland Dam yielded a couple that perched up on the chimney.

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)

Tasmania only. Seen by some on the day we drove from Mountain Valley to Hobart.

Cacatuidae (Cockatoos)

RED-TAILED BLACK-COCKATOO (Calyptorhynchus banksii)

A beautiful, large, and classic species we saw many times in both the NT and Queensland. Their slow, exaggerated flapping is quite unlike most bird species.


Tasmania only. Although they played wary this time, a few scattered sightings set us straight. At times, they would fly over the Mountain Valley Lodge grounds but it took a bit of luck to be at the right place at the right time. We found a couple more at the ferry terminal.

GALAH (Eolophus roseicapilla)

This pink species, which is in the cockatoo family, was fairly common near Georgetown where we saw several large flocks.

LITTLE CORELLA (Cacatua sanguinea)

We encountered a few flocks of these small cockatoos in the Northern Territory near Darwin.

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If you knew where to look, spotting these Tawny Frogmouths might not be so difficult. The problem is, they blend in so well! Near Georgetown we had outstanding looks at two adults and even a frogmouth chick! Photo provided by participant Kim Nelson.


Very nearly tallied every day, this widespread and common species has one of the harshest calls! We almost needed to cover our ears when they came flying by!

COCKATIEL (Nymphicus hollandicus)

A fantastic native species to Australia, these are actually in the cockatoo family! We were lucky to cross paths with a couple of flocks near Georgetown and got to enjoy them as they wheeled around and down to drink at Cumberland Dam.

Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)

AUSTRALIAN KING-PARROT (Alisterus scapularis)

I'm not sure one could get better looks at this beautiful species... mostly because they might have been perched on your head! These have become very easy-to-see at O'Reilly's in southern Queensland.

RED-WINGED PARROT (Aprosmictus erythropterus)

Often found in dry habitats, this attractive parrot was seen both near Darwin and then again around the waterholes of Georgetown.

BLUE-WINGED PARROT (Neophema chrysostoma)

Tasmania only. This is a small but beautiful, sleek parrot that we encountered several times on Bruny Island. These are considered vulnerable and a globally threatened species. There is estimated to be ony 10,000 left and the population has seen marked declines in the last decade, some suggesting 30-50%.

SWIFT PARROT (Lathamus discolor)

Tasmania only. This is a critically endangered species that breeds only on Tasmania and it's been estimated that as few as 1000 mature individuals may be left! We encountered a wonderful flock of these on Bruny Island and, although they were tricky to pick out in the treetops, we all ended up with nice looks.

GREEN ROSELLA (Platycercus caledonicus)

Tasmania only. This rosella, which is endemic to Tasmania, was seen right off the bat once we arrived but then they became kind of hard to find.

CRIMSON ROSELLA (Platycercus elegans)

There was no shortage of these vibrant rosellas at O'Reilly's and we can confirm that they were as interested in our meals as we were!

PALE-HEADED ROSELLA (Platycercus adscitus)

This was the dry-country rosella that we saw near Georgetown. They were common near the hotel and other waterholes.

DOUBLE-EYED FIG-PARROT (Cyclopsitta diophthalma)

Although common around Cairns in Queensland, they were almost always seen in flight as they zoomed past.

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Some of the kites in Australia and uniform and uninspiring. But then there are super distinctive and flashy ones like this Brahminy Kite. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

BUDGERIGAR (Melopsittacus undulatus)

A highlight at Cumberland Dam near Georgetown was a flock of 30 of these. This is a common cage bird around the world but in the wild they're very irruptive, rare, and are missed many of the trips.

VARIED LORIKEET (Psitteuteles versicolor)

A large flock, probably about 90, was seen flying over at Fogg Dam.

SCALY-BREASTED LORIKEET (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus)

It took a little sleuthing but we eventually caught up to this mostly-green lorikeet at the Cairns Esplanade.

RAINBOW LORIKEET (Trichoglossus moluccanus moluccanus)

Widespread through much of the tour, these were usually the most common parrots around. What a beautiful species to have wheeling through cities and towns!

RED-COLLARED LORIKEET (Trichoglossus rubritorquis)

This species is found only in northern Australia and we had nice looks during our time in Darwin. Once we flew to Cairns, we were out of range. Note that this species is a recent split out from Rainbow Lorikeet.

Pittidae (Pittas)

NOISY PITTA (Pitta versicolor)

Although easy to hear, this pitta can be a major challenge to see! We had glimpses through the scope of one singing high in the canopy at O'Reilly's.

RAINBOW PITTA (Pitta iris)

We tracked down a couple of singing birds in the dry forest of East Point near Darwin. Once or twice, one came in and perched point-blank before skittishly ducking back out.

Menuridae (Lyrebirds)

ALBERT'S LYREBIRD (Menura alberti)

These songbirds behave a bit like pheasants and, given the extremely limited range, this was one of the rarest birds of the tour. It's thought that fewer than 9000 of these are left! We were ecstatic to find one at O'Reilly's which is probably the best place on the planet to look for this secretive specialty.

Ptilonorhynchidae (Bowerbirds)

SPOTTED CATBIRD (Ailuroedus maculosus)

The odd meowing sound coming from the forest at Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine belonged to this fascinating species. We later saw a couple at the Curtain Fig as well.

GREEN CATBIRD (Ailuroedus crassirostris)

Once we arrived at O'Reilly's in southern Queensland, we were in the range of this catbird instead. Like the previous species, these were easy to hear but tough to see.

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The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is both distinctive, common, and seemingly pugnacious. The deafening calls of these is not something you'll soon forget! Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

TOOTH-BILLED BOWERBIRD (Scenopoeetes dentirostris)

Crater Lakes National Park in Queensland was great for these loud songsters and we saw one perched above his "bower" at Lake Barrine.

GOLDEN BOWERBIRD (Amblyornis newtoniana)

Voted one of the birds of the trip, a few folks had an incredible encounter when a young male descended from up the mountain and perched right on his bower! This is a range-restricted specialty. In fact, these are endemic to the higher altitudes in the Queensland wet tropics.

REGENT BOWERBIRD (Sericulus chrysocephalus)

A stunning bowerbird highlighted by a deeply vivid yellow on black. O'Reilly's provided several looks at this fantastic specialty, sometimes even perching on people!

SATIN BOWERBIRD (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)

It was amazing having this dark and distinctive bowerbird be common on the grounds of O'Reilly's in southern Queensland! The bower of this species is usually lined with blue objects.

GREAT BOWERBIRD (Chlamydera nuchalis)

These aren't the most colorful of bowerbirds but they definitely are the biggest! These are fairly widespread and we saw both the birds and their bowers several times in the Darwin area as well as Queensland.

Climacteridae (Australasian Treecreepers)

WHITE-THROATED TREECREEPER (Cormobates leucophaea)

This treecreeper was one of two treecreeper species present in the O'Reilly's area. For us, we encountered some on Duck Creek Road.

RED-BROWED TREECREEPER (Climacteris erythrops)

These were also present at O'Reilly's. We had a couple of brief looks along Duck Creek Road in the dry forest just downhill from the lodge.

BROWN TREECREEPER (Climacteris picumnus)

One of the four treecreeper species we found on Part II, the best looks came from the dry forest near Georgetown.

BLACK-TAILED TREECREEPER (Climacteris melanurus)

We found a flock of 5 of these rare treecreepers near Manton Dam south of Darwin. This was a fun encounter of a species that we don't see every time.

Maluridae (Fairywrens)


This newly-split species, formerly conspecific with Variegated Fairywren, popped into a bush near Durham Dam, Georgetown. Unfortunately, these females skirted out of view pretty quickly.

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Some of the warning signs along the road are entertaining! We saw them for Wombats, Platypus, Kangaroos, and of course this one for the cassowaries. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.


The only spot for this fairywren on our tour was near O'Reilly's and we found them a couple of times along Duck Creek Road and along a couple other paths.

SUPERB FAIRYWREN (Malurus cyaneus)

Both friendly and extremely handsome, these fairywrens were welcome companions during our time at O'Reilly's and even more-so in Tasmania.

RED-BACKED FAIRYWREN (Malurus melanocephalus)

With a preference for grassy areas, these distinctive fairywrens were seen nicely at Durham Dam near Georgetown.

Meliphagidae (Honeyeaters)

EASTERN SPINEBILL (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris)

This is a gorgeous, small, and slender honeyeater with a long, curved bill. We had point blank looks at O'Reilly's and then a couple more in Tasmania.


One of the three tricky honeyeaters with the yellow spot on the head, this species was seen best near Cassowary House and Behana Gorge.

LEWIN'S HONEYEATER (Meliphaga lewinii)

This stocky honeyeater was a mainstay in the rainforests of Queensland and was tallied daily there.

CRYPTIC HONEYEATER (Microptilotis imitatrix)

This slender-billed honeyeater was heard and then seen at Behana Gorge. Note that this was once conspecific with Graceful Honeyeater. Recent taxonomic changes has split the two and now Graceful Honeyeater is only found farther north in the Yorke Peninsula while Cryptic Honeyeater is found farther south where we were.

YELLOW HONEYEATER (Stomiopera flava)

Pretty aptly named, this plain-yellow species was seen in the dry country at Durham Dam near Georgetown. We also saw one at the Cairns Esplanade.

WHITE-GAPED HONEYEATER (Stomiopera unicolor)

A species of northern Australia, this honeyeater was quite common during our time in Darwin. In fact, the song of this species was one of the most common sounds there.

YELLOW-FACED HONEYEATER (Caligavis chrysops)

After our initial sighting of this distinctive honeyeater at Hasties Swamp, we went on to see another near O'Reilly's.

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Australia's only member of the roller family is this flashy species, the Dollarbird. It got its name due to the silvery, coin-shaped patches on the wing. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

BELL MINER (Manorina melanophrys)

A species found only in southeastern Australia, this distinctive-sounding miner was eventually seen along the road downhill from O'Reilly's. Although the incessant "tink" was easy to hear, it certainly wasn't easy to spot them!

NOISY MINER (Manorina melanocephala)

An abundant bird in many habitats in eastern Australia.

YELLOW-THROATED MINER (Manorina flavigula)

A dry-country species, these were encountered at Marlow Lagoon and again at Durham Dam near Georgetown.

BRIDLED HONEYEATER (Bolemoreus frenatus)

With a world range of only along the coast between Cooktown and Townsville in Queensland, this species has a very small range! We encountered it first at Mount Hypipamee National Park and then again at the Longlands Gap stop.

YELLOW WATTLEBIRD (Anthochaera paradoxa)

Tasmania only. This Tasmanian endemic is the largest of the honeyeaters! We saw them almost daily during our time there including at Trevallyn Park, Gowrie Park, and Bruny Island.

VARIED HONEYEATER (Gavicalis versicolor)

Within Australia, this honeyeater has a coastal distribution and is only found in northern Queensland. Our best luck was along the Cairns esplanade where they were fairly common.

MANGROVE HONEYEATER (Gavicalis fasciogularis)

Very similar to the previous species but with little geographic overlap, this mangrove specialist was picked up along the coast near Brisbane.

YELLOW-TINTED HONEYEATER (Ptilotula flavescens)

This somewhat drab honeyeater, which is limited to northern Australia, showed up for us several times including at East Point, Cumberland Dam, and Durham Dam.


A few folks got a quick glimpse of this tough species in the dry forest south of Georgetown.

BROWN-BACKED HONEYEATER (Ramsayornis modestus)

We encountered this honeyeater at Yorkeys Lagoon in Queensland. That, however, remained our only sighting of the tour.

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There is surely no better place on the planet to see Regent Bowerbirds than at O'Reilly's. The contrast between the vivid gold and the satin-like black is surely eye-popping. Photo by participant Kim Nelson.

BAR-BREASTED HONEYEATER (Ramsayornis fasciatus)

Our only encounter with this north Australian honeyeater was at Marlow Lagoon south of Darwin. These can be tough to find and so it was good to see it there.

RUFOUS-BANDED HONEYEATER (Conopophila albogularis)

This is another honeyeater that's restricted to northern Australia and we had good luck around Darwin at places like Buffalo Point, East Point, Marlow Lagoon, and Fogg Dam.

RUFOUS-THROATED HONEYEATER (Conopophila rufogularis)

We didn't encounter this honeyeater until the dry country around Georgetown. The rufous throat is actually tough to see unless the bird is facing you directly.

WHITE-FRONTED CHAT (Epthianura albifrons)

Tasmania only. We glimpsed one along the roadside on Bruny Island but it didn't stay in view for long.

DUSKY MYZOMELA (Myzomela obscura)

A very plain, brown honeyeater, this species was first seen around the Darwin area and then again at Manton Dam and the Curtain Fig Tree.

RED-HEADED MYZOMELA (Myzomela erythrocephala)

With a range limited to northern Australia, the only spots we encountered these were in the mangrove forests around Darwin.

SCARLET MYZOMELA (Myzomela sanguinolenta)

Another myzomela with red on it, these were seen at a few places like Hasties Swamp, Lake Eacham, and the Curtain Fig Tree.

BANDED HONEYEATER (Cissomela pectoralis)

A nice pick-up, this handsome black-and-white honeyeater was found at Cumberland Dam. The dry spell seemed to make these harder to find this year.

BROWN HONEYEATER (Lichmera indistincta)

This honeyeater, although having some brown on it, probably doesn't deserve the name. These were common on the first half the tour and we tallied them daily.

CRESCENT HONEYEATER (Phylidonyris pyrrhopterus)

Tasmania only. Although not endemic to the island, the only sightings came from Cradle Mountain.

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Ever feel like you're being watched?! This Pied Butcherbird had no problem getting up close to check us out at Cumberland Dam. Luckily, I was a little too big for it. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

NEW HOLLAND HONEYEATER (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae)

Tasmania only. An abundant but handsome honeyeater in much of southern Australia. This species is named after Australia's former name, New Holland.


Especially fond of large, flowering bushes, this fancy honeyeater was picked up at Hasties Swamp.

YELLOW-THROATED HONEYEATER (Nesoptilotis flavicollis)

Tasmania only. This is an attractive Tasmanian endemic that we tallied only a couple of times; first at Sensation Gorge and then once more on Bruny Island.

BLUE-FACED HONEYEATER (Entomyzon cyanotis)

A large and often obvious honeyeater, these were rather common in gardens through the first half of the tour.

WHITE-THROATED HONEYEATER (Melithreptus albogularis)

The Melithreptus genus of honeyeaters are fairly distinctive with the small size, stocky shape, short bill, and often hooded appearance. This species, albogularis, was the most commonly seen from this genus and we tallied them daily in the Darwin area.

WHITE-NAPED HONEYEATER (Melithreptus lunatus)

The main location we chanced into this species was along Duck Creek Road downhill from O'Reilly's. This is a small honeyeater of southeastern Australia.

BLACK-HEADED HONEYEATER (Melithreptus affinis)

Tasmania only. A fairly distinctive endemic of Tasmania, these were tallied at Sensation Gorge and on Bruny Island.

STRONG-BILLED HONEYEATER (Melithreptus validirostris)

Tasmania only. This is another Tasmanian endemic from the same genus that we encountered at Sensation Gorge. These were tough to come by this year.

MACLEAY'S HONEYEATER (Xanthotis macleayanus)

A large and distinctive honeyeater that's endemic to the coast of Queensland, this rainforest-loving species was rather common near Cassowary House, Hasties Swamp, and Behana Gorge.

LITTLE FRIARBIRD (Philemon citreogularis)

These small guys were actually common during our time near Darwin and again in the Georgetown area.

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One of the flashier honeyeaters we saw was the Macleay's Honeyeater. The intricate feathering on the chest is superb! This beautiful image was captured by participant Kim Nelson.

HELMETED FRIARBIRD (HORNBILL) (Philemon buceroides yorki)

This subspecies of P. buceroides is found only along the coast of Queensland. We found ours at the Barron River Mouth and the Cairns Esplanade.

SILVER-CROWNED FRIARBIRD (Philemon argenticeps)

They sure didn't stick around long but a couple of these flew through as we were birding in dry forest near Manton Dam. However, later on elsewhere at Manton Dam, we found them coming in to drink at water! This can be a tough species to find when you want to.

NOISY FRIARBIRD (Philemon corniculatus)

This is the naked-headed friarbird that we caught up with at Innot Hot Springs and a few other spots.

Pardalotidae (Pardalotes)

SPOTTED PARDALOTE (Pardalotus punctatus)

What a spiffy species! We saw our first along Duck Creek Road near O'Reilly's but then not again until Tasmania.

FORTY-SPOTTED PARDALOTE (Pardalotus quadragintus)

Tasmania only. This Tasmanian endemic is one of Australia's rarest birds and Bruny Island remains one of a few spots where they're reliable. It took a bit of effort but we eventually had looks at a couple during our visit to Bruny Island when we visited the White Gum forested habitat. There are probably fewer than 2000 mature adults of this endangered species remaining!

RED-BROWED PARDALOTE (Pardalotus rubricatus)

This fancy and distinctive pardalote gave us fits when we were trying to find it. We eventually ended up finding some at Cumberland Dam near Georgetown.

STRIATED PARDALOTE (Pardalotus striatus) [N]

A few of these were spotted near Georgetown but it wasn't until we were in Tasmania that they became rather common. It was there that we watched them entering a nest hole in a pipe!

Acanthizidae (Thornbills and Allies)

YELLOW-THROATED SCRUBWREN (Neosericornis citreogularis)

These, along with the following species, were nearly crawling over our shoes at O'Reilly's!

WHITE-BROWED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis frontalis)

Although these were common at O'Reilly's in southern Queensland, our first sighting came from the Forty Mile Scrub National Park rest area.

TASMANIAN SCRUBWREN (Sericornis humilis)

Tasmania only. This Tasmanian endemic is quite similar to the previous species. We had looks at Mountain Valley Lodge and Mole Creek Karst NP but overall these remained quite tough for us this year.

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In Tasmania, high on everyone's list of most-wanteds was of course the Wombat. It's remarkable how a creature can look so incredibly solid while also being remarkable cute. This one was up on Cradle Mountain during our Tasmania extension. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

ATHERTON SCRUBWREN (Sericornis keri)

A very range-restricted species, this scrubwren is endemic to a small area of Queensland. We found some in Mount Hypipamee National Park where we watched them foraging pretty low, lower than the following species.

LARGE-BILLED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis magnirostra)

Although a scrubwren, these like to forage at mid-height in vine tangles. We had looks at spots around O'Reilly's but that was about it.

SCRUBTIT (Acanthornis magna)

Tasmania only. This is another Tasmanian endemic that can be tricky to find when you want to! It took some work but we eventually saw it nicely at Leven Canyon Picnic Area and even up on Cradle Mountain.

STRIATED FIELDWREN (Calamanthus fuliginosus)

Tasmania only. We found this streaky little species at Mountain Valley Lodge and near Cradle Mountain.

MOUNTAIN THORNBILL (Acanthiza katherina)

We found a couple of these at Longlands Gap near Mount Hypipamee National Park. This Queensland endemic is very range restricted and it's now considered vulnerable and globally threatened.

BROWN THORNBILL (Acanthiza pusilla)

These were common around O'Reilly's and then again in some of the dry habitats in Tasmania. When compared to the following species, these have a paler, whitish panel to the folded wing.

TASMANIAN THORNBILL (Acanthiza ewingii)

Tasmania only. This endemic of Tasmania turned out to be quite uncommon for us. We encountered some at Mole Creek Karst NP and again at Leven Canyon but that was about it. These have more of a rufous edging to flight feathers and they prefer wetter habitats than the previous species.

YELLOW-RUMPED THORNBILL (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa)

Tasmania only. Although they're not limited to Tasmania, that's where our sighting came from. Our one and only encounter was on Bruny Island in the corral area.

STRIATED THORNBILL (Acanthiza lineata)

Our only encounter came during our full day at O'Reilly's. A small flock descended from the treetops along Duck Creek Road.

WEEBILL (Smicrornis brevirostris)

One of Australia's smallest birds. Most of our sightings came from the dry forests around Georgetown.

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of the fancy specialties we tried for in Darwin is the Black-tailed Whistler. Closely tied to mangroves, we had to find the right patch before we saw a couple. Here's a male photographed by guide Cory Gregory.

GREEN-BACKED GERYGONE (Gerygone chloronota)

A gifted songster, these tiny songbirds were fairly common in the mangrove habitats at East Point near Darwin.

FAIRY GERYGONE (Gerygone palpebrosa)

A rest area en route to Georgetown yielded this species. We found it at the same spot both times on our trip.


We found this songster near Durham Dam and other dry spots around Georgetown. We first picked up on it by its song.

LARGE-BILLED GERYGONE (Gerygone magnirostris)

A few folks got a glimpse at Buffalo Creek near Darwin.

BROWN GERYGONE (Gerygone mouki)

Lake Eacham was our only location for this rather drab, tiny species.

MANGROVE GERYGONE (Gerygone levigaster)

We were successful in finding this mangrove specialist along the coast near Darwin and then again at the Lota Foreshore in Brisbane. Still, they were rather skulky and didn't stay in view for long.

Pomatostomidae (Pseudo-Babblers)

GRAY-CROWNED BABBLER (Pomatostomus temporalis)

A large group (pack? hoard?) came right in to check us out while we were in the dry forests of Durham Dam. We had stellar views.

Orthonychidae (Logrunners)

AUSTRALIAN LOGRUNNER (Orthonyx temminckii)

This sneaky, quiet species always take a bit of luck but folks spending time along the trails at O'Reilly's eventually had looks at this ground-dweller. This species is endemic to the east coast of Australia.

Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)

BARRED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina lineata)

It was a good trip for these, which can be hard to find. We found them at Winfield Park, Lake Eacham, and once more up on the Atherton Tablelands.

BLACK-FACED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina novaehollandiae)

This sleek species was common in the dry country near Georgetown and then once more in Tasmania.

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We found this Eastern Spinebill posing brilliantly for us at O'Reilly's. Although it doesn't have it in its name, this is indeed a type of honeyeater. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.


This was the most numerous cuckooshrike we saw, especially early in the tour around Darwin. We also tallied them from Cairns and the Georgetown area too though.

WHITE-WINGED TRILLER (Lalage tricolor)

This handsome species was seen high up at Behana Gorge. Interestingly, you'll note that trillers are in the cuckooshrike family.

VARIED TRILLER (Lalage leucomela)

Fairly common, these were seen in a variety of habitats around Darwin.

COMMON CICADABIRD (Edolisoma tenuirostre)

The Centenary Lakes hotspot in Cairns gave us our first encounter but we saw more at Lake Eacham and then heard one at the Forty Mile Scrub.

Psophodidae (Whipbirds and Wedgebills)

EASTERN WHIPBIRD (Psophodes olivaceus)

This song was a common sound throughout our time along the coast of Queensland. Seeing them, however, can be challenging. We eventually had stellar looks at O'Reilly's, home of "Whippy".

Falcunculidae (Shrike-tits)

EASTERN SHRIKE-TIT (Falcunculus frontatus)

We were birding down the road from O'Reilly's when we had stunning, eye-level looks at this tricky-to-find species. This isn't a species we find every trip!

Pachycephalidae (Whistlers and Allies)

BOWER'S SHRIKETHRUSH (Colluricincla boweri)

A specialty that's endemic to the northeast coast of Queensland. For us, they were tricky to find but we eventually did see one at Lake Barrine.

GRAY SHRIKETHRUSH (Colluricincla harmonica)

Fairly findable around O'Reilly's where the song was a common sound. Later on, we found them daily in Tasmania. That subspecies, C. h. strigata, is endemic to Tasmania.

ARAFURA SHRIKETHRUSH (Colluricincla megarhyncha)

This rather rufous shrikethrush was seen nicely at Fogg Dam. Note that this used to be in the Little Shrikethrush complex before being split out and renamed.

RUFOUS SHRIKETHRUSH (Colluricincla rufogaster)

Like the previous species, this used to be called Little Shrikethrush. We encountered these along Black Mountain Road, Hasties Swamp, and Fort-mile Scrub NP.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Whiptail Wallaby, also known as Pretty-faced Wallaby, was a welcome sight along a road near O'Reilly's. This macropod is found only in a small portion of eastern Australia. Photo by participant Kim Nelson.

OLIVE WHISTLER (Pachycephala olivacea)

Tasmania only. Although not a Tasmanian endemic, the only view of this local species came from Sensation Gorge.

GOLDEN WHISTLER (Pachycephala pectoralis)

Mainland and Tasmania. This beautiful species, and great songster, was tallied from O'Reilly's and Lake Eacham. We also saw the P. p. glaucura subspecies which is endemic to Tasmania.

BLACK-TAILED WHISTLER (Pachycephala melanura)

This sneaky, mangrove specialist showed nicely at a new spot north of Darwin. Some still call it by the old name "Mangrove Golden Whistler".

GRAY WHISTLER (BROWN) (Pachycephala simplex simplex)

We were birding the mangroves at Buffalo Creek and East Point near Darwin when we spotted this drab species. This subspecies, the nominate P. s. simplex, is actually quite restricted in range and is endemic to the Northern Territory. However, the "Brown" grouping also includes P. s. brunnescens which is found farther north.

GRAY WHISTLER (GRAY-HEADED) (Pachycephala simplex peninsulae)

Within Australia, this subspecies is found only along the coast of northern Queensland and we found them at Behana Gorge during our brief visit.

RUFOUS WHISTLER (Pachycephala rufiventris)

All of our sightings came from dry habitats. First at Marlow Lagoon south of Darwin, and then again at Cumberland Dam near Georgetown.

Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)

OLIVE-BACKED ORIOLE (Oriolus sagittatus)

These were seen at various spots in Queensland. First was Hasties Swamp but then more at Innot Hot Springs, Warruma Swamp, and Durham Dam.

GREEN ORIOLE (Oriolus flavocinctus)

Quite common around Darwin at places like Lee Point, East Point, Buffalo Creek, Fogg Dam, and others. The song of this species was commonplace; it seemed like they were everywhere.

AUSTRALASIAN FIGBIRD (Sphecotheres vieilloti)

A widespread but attractive bird through the Darwin and Cairns region.

Machaerirhynchidae (Boatbills)

YELLOW-BREASTED BOATBILL (Machaerirhynchus flaviventer)

This attractive flycatcher came in right overhead at Lake Barrine and the Curtain Fig, showing us exactly why it's called a "boat bill".

Field Guides Birding Tours
The pardalotes are a group of small but attractive songbirds that we got to enjoy. Of the several different kinds we saw, this one is a Striated Pardalote. Interestingly, many of these are ground-nesters! Photo by participant Kim Nelson.
Artamidae (Woodswallows, Bellmagpies, and Allies)


Common and widespread through much of the tour, especially early on in Darwin and Cairns.


We crossed paths with these in the dry country near Georgetown.

DUSKY WOODSWALLOW (Artamus cyanopterus)

Tasmania only. This is the only species of woodswallow found in Tasmania which is exactly where we saw it.

GRAY BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus torquatus)

There was one of these teed up on a tree at a rest area east of Georgetown. We saw a couple more in Tasmania as well.

SILVER-BACKED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus argenteus argenteus)

This butcherbird is endemic to northern Australia and we crossed paths with a pair near Palmerston southeast of Darwin.

PIED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus nigrogularis)

These black-and-white butcherbirds were fairly common throughout our time in Queensland but they were especially obvious in the dry country near Georgetown. In fact, one came in and perched so close we could have reached out and touched it.

BLACK BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus quoyi)

Although widespread and fairly vocal, these all-black butcherbirds can be hard to see when you want to. We came face-to-face with them at Buffalo Creek in Darwin and then once more at Centenary Lakes in Cairns.

AUSTRALIAN MAGPIE (Gymnorhina tibicen)

Nothing like the magpies we know from elsewhere in the world. These familiar birds were common and widespread once we flew to Cairns. This species is a gifted songster as well.

PIED CURRAWONG (Strepera graculina)

This is the species of currawong at places like O'Reilly's where they've been known to nab food off tables. The loud and distinctive song was one of the most common sounds there.

BLACK CURRAWONG (Strepera fuliginosa)

Tasmania only. There was no shortage of this Tassie endemic, especially when we'd set up for a picnic! If you wanted to keep your sandwich at Cradle Mountain, best keep a close eye on it! These have black undertail coverts and white tips to the wings.

Field Guides Birding Tours
During our time in northern Australia, one of the most numerous birds we encountered was the Australasian Figbird. There was no mistaking the males with that bright red facial skin. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

GRAY CURRAWONG (CLINKING) (Strepera versicolor arguta)

Tasmania only. Although Gray Currawong is not endemic to Tasmania, this subspecies is. They're very dark there, approaching Black Currawong in color, but they have white undertail coverts and big white flashes in the wings.

Rhipiduridae (Fantails)

NORTHERN FANTAIL (Rhipidura rufiventris)

Strangely, the only encounter with this species was at Buffalo Creek at the start of the tour.

WILLIE-WAGTAIL (Rhipidura leucophrys)

Although this has "wagtail" in the name, note that this is actually a type of fantail. Although our first sighting of this very widespread species came from Fogg Dam in the NT, it wasn't until Queensland and beyond that they became abundant for us.


The only location that hosted these for us was O'Reilly's where we saw them deep in the forest. Note that the former name for this species was "Rufous Fantail".

ARAFURA FANTAIL (Rhipidura dryas)

Within Australia, most reports of this russet-colored fantail come from the mangroves in the Northern Territory. We encountered it a couple of times including at Buffalo Creek and again at East Point.

GRAY FANTAIL (Rhipidura albiscapa)

We started to encounter these at the picnic area at Mt Hypipamee but it wasn't until Tasmania that they became truly abundant and omnipresent.

Dicruridae (Drongos)

SPANGLED DRONGO (Dicrurus bracteatus)

Australia's only member from the Drongo family, these all-black birds were seen on a number of days spanning from Darwin to O'Reilly's.

Paradisaeidae (Birds-of-Paradise)

PARADISE RIFLEBIRD (Ptiloris paradiseus)

One of the outstanding highlights from O'Reilly's, and even the entire trip, was our experience with this bird-of-paradise. Although it was difficult at first, singing high in the canopy, a male eventually came down and proceeded to feed in plain view!

VICTORIA'S RIFLEBIRD (Ptiloris victoriae)

This is yet another bird-of-paradise that we encountered in eastern Australia. Although there is no range overlap with the previous species, they look somewhat similar. Additionally, they're just as loud which gave away their locations. We encountered them from Black Mountain Road, Lake Eacham, Mt. Hypipamee, and others.

Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)

WHITE-EARED MONARCH (Carterornis leucotis)

It took some work but we eventually enjoyed decent looks at this uncommon species downhill from O'Reilly's during our full day there. This species is only found along Australia's east coast.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A ubiquitous species in Tasmania was the Gray Fantail. No one seemed to mind especially considering the pretty song and cute, long-tailed look. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

BLACK-FACED MONARCH (Monarcha melanopsis)

A distinctive black-and-orange monarch, these were seen at Lake Eacham and again at O'Reilly's.

SPECTACLED MONARCH (Symposiachrus trivirgatus)

We managed to find this tough species only once and that was at Winfield Park in Malanda.

PIED MONARCH (Arses kaupi)

One or two of these stayed backed in the shadows at the Curtain Fig Tree. This handsome species has the distinctive habit of clinging to vertical trunks and limbs.

MAGPIE-LARK (Grallina cyanoleuca)

Seen nearly every day, this was an abundant species that became very familiar to all of us. They are not found in Tasmania, however.

LEADEN FLYCATCHER (Myiagra rubecula)

Seen a couple of times; first at Manton Dam in the NT, and then again in Queensland near O'Reilly's.

BROAD-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Myiagra ruficollis)

Seen first near Darwin, at Lee Point and Buffalo Creek, and then once more at Fogg Dam.

SATIN FLYCATCHER (Myiagra cyanoleuca)

Tasmania only. We tracked down this attractive species in a riparian area on our first full day in Tasmania. The other flycatchers in the Myiagra genus are not present in Tasmania which makes narrowing these down easy.


A pair was seen nicely at Fogg Dam and then again at Cumberland Dam but those would remain our only ones of the trip.


We encountered this glossy, blue/black species at Fogg Dam in the Northern Territory and then again up on the Atherton Tableland.

Corcoracidae (White-winged Chough and Apostlebird)

APOSTLEBIRD (Struthidea cinerea)

What a interesting and quintessential species. This is a mud-nester; they build impressive mud nests up in trees which are sometimes easy to spot. We found these fairly commonly during our time near Georgetown.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Although they're not native to Tasmania, the Eurasian Blackbirds were distinctive and fairly friendly. This species was introduced into Melbourne in the 1850s and has flourished in some parts. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

TORRESIAN CROW (Corvus orru)

This was the only Corvid we encountered on the entire trip (until the Tasmania extension).

FOREST RAVEN (Corvus tasmanicus)

Tasmania only. This is the only Corvid present on Tasmania and we tallied them daily there.

Petroicidae (Australasian Robins)

LEMON-BELLIED FLYROBIN (Microeca flavigaster)

Formerly known as Lemon-bellied Flycatcher. We had nice, eye-level looks at Marlow Lagoon and a few other spots in the NT.

SCARLET ROBIN (Petroica boodang)

Tasmania only. What an attractive little guy! However, these turned out to be rather difficult for us this time around. Still, we saw one nicely at Trevallyn Nature Recreation Area. Note that the subspecies found in Tasmania, P. b. leggii, is endemic to the island state.

FLAME ROBIN (Petroica phoenicea)

Tasmania only. This is another robin that we saw only in Tasmania despite it not being endemic. A pair of these was seen a few times working the Mountain Valley Lodge area.

ROSE ROBIN (Petroica rosea)

This species is perhaps the most arboreal of the robins; they really do prefer foraging high up in trees. We found a singing male at O'Reilly's just down the road a ways. Although it never liked to perch out in the open, we had repeated looks.

PINK ROBIN (Petroica rodinogaster)

Tasmania only. A beautiful species, the shade of pink on the breast of this bird is a rare color in birds. We saw a few of these forest-loving robins at Gowrie Park during our lunch stop and then again at Leven Canyon.

DUSKY ROBIN (Melanodryas vittata)

Tasmania only. This somewhat bland robin is endemic to Tasmania and we had nice looks a couple of times right on the grounds of our mountain lodge! Later on, we found another on Bruny Island.

PALE-YELLOW ROBIN (Tregellasia capito)

This attractive little robin is found only on the east coast of Australia where it favors rainforests. We saw these nicely at Lake Eacham and Mt. Hypipamee where they would often cling to vertical trunks and branches.

EASTERN YELLOW ROBIN (Eopsaltria australis)

This tame, bright yellow robin was seen again and again during our time at O'Reilly's.

Field Guides Birding Tours
It's no secret that Australia is home to some incredible species of lizards and dragons, as they're called. This fairly large Eastern Argus Monitor was seen in a park near Darwin early in the trip. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

MANGROVE ROBIN (Eopsaltria pulverulenta)

It's not a surprise, given the name, that this is a mangrove specialist. A few of these came out of the mangroves near the Cairns esplanade to have a look at us.

GRAY-HEADED ROBIN (Heteromyias cinereifrons)

A denizen of rainforests, this songster was heard more often than seen. Still, we had nice looks at Winfield Park, Lake Barrine, Mount Hypipamee, and others.

Alaudidae (Larks)

SINGING BUSHLARK (Mirafra javanica)

Favoring grassy areas, a couple of these were seen at Cumberland Dam near Georgetown. Note that this species has new name: Singing Bushlark. This also used to be called "Horsfield's Bushlark" and "Australasian Bushlark".

EURASIAN SKYLARK (Alauda arvensis) [I]

Tasmania only. This introduced species was seen and heard skylarking high up in the air above the Lillico Beach Viewing Platform.

Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)


This is a grass-loving species that we found at Fogg Dam. They are fine tailors; they stitch their nest together using spider webs!

Acrocephalidae (Reed Warblers and Allies)

AUSTRALIAN REED WARBLER (Acrocephalus australis)

Just back from the wintering grounds, one of these had arrived at Fogg Dam. However, Acrocephalus warblers are skulky and difficult to see well.

Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)

TAWNY GRASSBIRD (Cincloramphus timoriensis)

We connected with this sneaky, grass-loving bird at Fred Bucholz Park. Views were brief, however.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

WELCOME SWALLOW (Hirundo neoxena)

Our most common swallow of the trip. Sightings were a daily occurrence after we flew to Cairns.

FAIRY MARTIN (Petrochelidon ariel)

Our only look was at Cumberland Dam near Georgetown.

TREE MARTIN (Petrochelidon nigricans)

This pale-rumped swallow was seen first from Lee Point but then we saw a huge flock roosting in a bare tree at Fogg Dam. The scope views were actually quite nice.

Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)


Found only along Australia's northern coast. For us, we had nice views at Buffalo Creek and East Point.

SILVEREYE (Zosterops lateralis)

A small, familiar, and common species during our time in eastern and southeastern Australia. The nominate Z. l. lateralis subspecies is endemic to Tasmania and we saw them there daily as well.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

METALLIC STARLING (Aplonis metallica)

This red-eyed, glossy species is a native and migratory species to the coast of Queensland. We saw a whole tree full of nests and their defenders near Cairns!

Field Guides Birding Tours
The Eastern Shrike-Tit, along with two other shrike-tit species, are the only members in the Falcunculus family. All are endemic to Australia and all are pretty spiffy looking! Here's one we saw nicely while we were birding near O'Reilly's. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

Tasmania only. This introduced species has really taken hold in Tasmania where we saw them daily.

COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis) [I]

This "Cane Toad of the sky", as it's been called, is an invasive species that poses serious problems to the native birds in Australia. We saw them commonly in Cairns.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

BASSIAN THRUSH (Zoothera lunulata)

A few folks had quick views of this at O'Reilly's but it didn't perform for the entire group.

EURASIAN BLACKBIRD (Turdus merula) [I]

Tasmania only. This thrush was introduced to southeastern Australia in the 1850s and has flourished there. We saw them daily during our time in Tasmania.

Dicaeidae (Flowerpeckers)

MISTLETOEBIRD (Dicaeum hirundinaceum)

Fairly common throughout the first half of the tour. This is an attractive species with an interesting relationship to mistletoe; everything about this bird is for maximizing the spread of mistletoe. It has a digestive track that fast-tracks the fruit (to reduce the chances of the seeds becoming unviable) and the bird even perches parallel to the branch to defecate, thus increasing the chance that the fruit sticks and takes hold.

Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)

SAHUL SUNBIRD (Cinnyris frenatus)

Formerly Olive-backed Sunbird and so note that this species has a new name: Sahul Sunbird. It is so named because of the Sahul Shelf, the large continental plate that includes Australia and much of the land to the north. In terms of the bird, we found them only a couple of times including at Centenary Lakes and again at the Barron River Mouth.

Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)

BEAUTIFUL FIRETAIL (Stagonopleura bella)

Tasmania only. Finding (and then seeing) this species turned into a real challenge on Bruny Island. They always preferred to be on the ground, out of view.

CRIMSON FINCH (Neochmia phaeton)

A couple of groups of this sharply-dressed finch were spotted at Fogg Dam in the Northern Territory. This species seems to always travel in flocks.

RED-BROWED FIRETAIL (Neochmia temporalis)

An attractive firetail that we saw several times at O'Reilly's. In fact, some had become tame enough to come into bird seed.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Here is Field Guides leader John Coons leading the way at Curtain Fig Tree. We had just seen the incredible Pied Monarch, one of John's favorites. Photo by participant Kim Nelson.

PLUM-HEADED FINCH (Aidemosyne modesta)

A very uncommon species, these nomadic finches are usually very difficult to find in the Georgetown area. For us, however, we had them on each of our three days in the area. First, several were seen at Cumberland Dam, then the next morning some were seen at Durham Dam, and then lastly seen at Cumberland Dam again.

DOUBLE-BARRED FINCH (Stizoptera bichenovii)

Perhaps the most numerous finch we encountered, these black-and-white characters were always quite handsome. We first saw a few at Lee Point near Darwin, more at Durham Dam, and then some at Cumberland Dam.

ZEBRA FINCH (Taeniopygia guttata)

Although not the most numerous of the finches, some small groups were seen coming to drink at Cumberland and Durham Dam.

MASKED FINCH (Poephila personata)

A tough-to-find finch sometimes, a couple of these were found back behind Cumberland Dam mixed in with other finches. The world range for this species is entirely in northern Australia.

BLACK-THROATED FINCH (Poephila cincta)

This attractive finch was eventually found back behind Cumberland Dam where it was hanging out with Masked Finches. This species is found only in northeastern Australia.

SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA (Lonchura punctulata) [I]

A few folks saw this introduced species in Cairns.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Seen once at the Cairns Esplanade, and then many times in Tasmania.

Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)

AUSTRALIAN PIPIT (Anthus australis)

Tasmania only. We had scope looks at this open-country species below Cradle Mountain in Tasmania.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

EUROPEAN GOLDFINCH (Carduelis carduelis) [I]

Tasmania only. Although they're introduced, it was kind of fun seeing the bright markings on this species. They were common there and tallied each of our days.


SHORT-BEAKED ECHIDNA (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

Tasmania only. This egg-laying mammal is surely one of the most bizarre mammals on the planet! Lucky for us, we had great looks at a couple of these spike-laden critters along various roadsides in Tasmania.

PLATYPUS (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

Mainland and Tasmania. It was difficult to find these this year but still a couple folks had a great look at this bizarre creature, both on the mainland and in Tasmania. In 1799, scientists that examined a platypus specimen judged it to be fake; they thought it was a combination of animals sewn together. Yes, they really are that strange! These don't hunt using smell or eyesight... instead they use electrolocation which allows them to feed in murky waters.

TASMANIAN DEVIL (Sarcophilus harrisii)

Tasmania only. This iconic and legendary carnivorous marsupial has gone through serious declines in recent years and it's now very rare. The Mountain Valley Lodge is one of a few places one can hope to see wild devils and we did just that, under the shroud of darkness when they came to the grounds to eat. If you stayed up late enough, you had a chance!

Field Guides Birding Tours
When I mentioned eye-popping mammals, I didn't mean it literally! But here is one of the strange Green Ringtail Possums we found on the Atherton Tablelands. This is an extremely range-restricted specialty, it's found only in a tiny portion of Queensland and nowhere else on the planet. Photo provided by participant Kim Nelson.

LONG-NOSED BANDICOOT (Peramelas nasuta)

This marsupial was spotted several times after dark up on the Atherton Tableland.


Some folks had looks at this on our lodge grounds but it didn't show for everyone.

COMMON WOMBAT (Vombatus ursinus)

Tasmania only. These chunky marsupials were seen near Cradle Mountain. A very solid-looking critter, adults can weigh up to 90 lbs! An adaptation for digging around so much, their pouch faces the other direction so not to fill with dirt.

KOALA (Phascolarctos cinereus)

Good spotting! We were able to turn the bus around and go back for views of this classic Australian marsupial. It was probably asleep considering Koalas might sleep up to 20 hrs a day!

COMMON BRUSHTAIL POSSUM (Trichosurus vulpecula)

Tasmania only. A few of these came in to the grounds of the Mountain Valley Lodge after dark to feed on scraps.

COPPERY BRUSHTAIL POSSUM (Trichosurus johnstonii)

Our nocturnal trip to the Curtain Fig area yielded many views of this arboreal marsupial.

GREEN RINGTAIL POSSUM (Pseudochirops archeri)

This was another species we found at night during our time on the Atherton Tablelands. They really are green too.

MUSKY RAT-KANGAROO (Hypsiprymnodon moschatus)

This species was seen by some on the day we drove to Georgetown.

TASMANIAN PADEMELON (Thylogale billardierii)

Tasmania only. This endemic pademelon, and the only in Tasmania, was fairly common at the Mountain Valley Lodge, especially as dusk set in.

RED-NECKED PADEMELON (Thylogale thetis)

This macropod was fairly common on the grounds at O'Reilly's, especially late in the evening or early in the morning when they would be seen in clearings.

RED-LEGGED PADEMELON (Thylogale stigmatica)

These were the first pademelons we saw on Part II; they were wary but present up on the Atherton Tablelands after dark.

LUMHOLTZ'S TREE KANGAROO (Dendrolagus lumholtzi)

These fascinating, arboreal marsupials have a very limited range: only on the Atherton Tableland! We were waiting for the Golden Bowerbird to come back when we found one of these high up!

AGILE WALLABY (Macropus agilis)

Fairly common in clearings near Darwin and again at some spots in Queensland. These were the first macropods we saw on Part II.

RED-NECKED WALLABY (Macropus rufogriseus)

Tasmania only. Although this species is native to Tasmania, it is not endemic.

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Equally as range-restricted as the Green Ringtail Possum, this is the Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroo! This rare, long-tailed marsupial is a solitary, arboreal species and we were waiting to see a Golden Bowerbird when this was spotted high in the canopy! Photo by participant Kim Nelson.

WHIPTAIL WALLABY (Macropus parryi)

The hillsides below O'Reilly's eventually yielded lots of good looks at this macropod. Some sources still call it "Pretty-faced Wallaby".

ANTILOPINE WALLAROO (Macropus antilopinus)

Sitting still on the backside of Cumberland Dam, a couple of these rare macropods were scoped during our visit.

BLACK FLYING-FOX (Pteropus alecto)

These large bats, one of the largest in the world, were seen in northern Australia at spots around Darwin. At Fogg Dam before dawn broke, these streamed high overhead, a rather eerie sight.

SPECTACLED FLYING-FOX (Pteropus conspicillatus)

This is the common species of flying-fox present around Cairns and a tree near the esplanade was hosting a noisy collection of roosting individuals.

LITTLE RED FLYING-FOX (Pteropus scapulatus)

There was an enormous gathering of these, which we could tell were smaller, near a bridge in a town way downhill from O'Reilly's.

LITTLE BENT-WING BAT (Miniopterus australis)

A few folks saw this species on our full day around Cairns.

OLD WORLD RABBIT (Oryctolagus cuniculus) [I]

Also known as "European Rabbit", this introduced species has had devastating impacts but there are no natural predators to keep the numbers in check.

EUROPEAN BROWN HARE (Lepus europaeus) [I]

Since once on Tasmania by some.

SPERM WHALE (Physeter catodon)

Was it a log? No! Ok, it really wasn't a log... but a Sperm Whale instead! It's odd how this species lingers at the surface longer than most whales. Our one and only encounter with this rare behemoth was at the Lillico Beach Viewing Platform in Tasmania.

DINGO (Canis familiaris dingo)

Seen in the Georgetown area. The taxonomic classification is debated... is it an ancient form of the domestic dog? Most consider that to be the case.

CAPE (AUSTRALIAN) FUR SEAL (Arctocephalus pusillus)

Tasmania only. We spotted a fur seal distantly from the ferry which was probably this species.


ANGLE-HEADED DRAGON (Lophosaurus spinipes)

We were driving below O'Reilly's when we paused to look at this large lizard basking in the sun.


We spotted this good-sized monitor on our first day near East Point in Darwin. It seemed very aptly named given the spotted appearance.

Totals for the tour: 360 bird taxa and 28 mammal taxa