Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Nitmiluk National Park

Blue-faced Honeyeater

Nitmiluk is owned by the Jawoyn Aboriginal people and jointly managed with the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory. It has two fairly separate areas, Edith Falls and Katherine Gorge.

Edith Falls campground was wonderful with beautifully planned camping areas where we could pull the motorhome up beside our own private lawn. The staff were friendly and helpful - noticing my lens and binocs one asked if I was a birdwatcher then told me where to find a bowerbird's bower and suggested I move the sprinkler to our patch of lawn and turn it on to attract red-winged parrots to play in its spray. We inadvertently took the long way to the top pool for a swim, with great bowerbirds and brown honeyeaters on the way, but I was too busy watching my footing and gasping for breath to do any serious birding. An evening walk around the campgrounds saw black cockatoos, galahs, red-collared lorikeet and corellas feeding on the lawns and flowering shrubs. The bowerbirds were at their bower, and the lorikeets came to play in the sprinkler. Pardalotes searched for lerps, thornbills darted among the leaves.We watched a magnificent sunset.

In early morning walk to the creek brought some familiar honeyeaters and two new species, the rufous-throated and the bar-breasted, and a little brown bird I have yet to identify. My brother, Peter, coming back from a swim, asked what the two big birds were that he passed on the path - they were bush stone-curlew standing obligingly still peering into the bush.

Off to Katherine Gorge where great bowerbirds and blue-faced honeyeaters were almost tame, hovering about the campers on the lookout for scraps. Woolybutt and other flowering eucalypts attracted the large nectar eaters, including friarbirds. On the walk along the river were several finches, another bower with several attendant bowerbirds, red-winged parrots and more honeyeaters. On the cruise we were lucky enough to see a great-billed heron fly across our bow and wander along the edge of the water. Lots of small birds could be heard in the patches of vegetation as we passed but exposed rocks kept our guide to the middle of the stream.

The gorge is incredible, particularly in the early morning or late evening light.

Bird list:

Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis (pictured above)
White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae
Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus
Bush Stone-Curlew Burhinus grallarius
Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii
Galah Cacatua roseicapilla
Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea
Red-winged Parrot Aprosmictus erythropterus
Red-browed Pardalote Pardalotus rubricatus
Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus
Silver-crowned Friarbird Philemon argenticeps
Bar-breasted Honeyeater Ramsayornis fasciatus
Rufous-throated Honeyeater Conopophila rufogularis
Brown Honeyeater Lichmera indistincta
Great Bowerbird Chlamydera nuchalis
Double-barred Finch Taeniopygia bichenovii
Crimson Finch Neochmia phaeton

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