Black Grasswren Tour

13 Day Tour
11 birdwatchers maximum
Darwin – Kakadu National Park – Katherine – Darwin – Kununurra – Lake Argyle – Mitchell Plateau – Kununurra (drive & fly)

This tour is designed to look at the endemic birds of the Top End and the Kimberley, in particular to visit the area of the Black Grasswren the easy way.

Previously you had to drive into the Mitchell Plateau via the slow-going, back-breaking Gibb River road and camp, but now, in Kirrama tradition, we offer you great birding in style and comfort …flying right into the Mitchell Plateau first with light aircraft and then by helicopter. What a great way to combine a scenic flight with unique birdwatching!

Day 1

The tour starts officially at lunchtime in Darwin, but if some guests are willing and present we’ll go birding in the morning. We visit places like East Point and Lee Point, which usually offers a good variety of waders.

The mangroves close to town are great to look for mangrove birds with a chance to see the Chestnut Rail. Some of the lagoons close to town are also interesting.
Accommodation: Frontier Darwin Hotel

Day 2

We depart Darwin in the morning via some birding spots and arrive at midday at Pine Creek for lunch and travel onwards to Katherine. Around Katherine are several locations to search for Gouldian Finches and Hooded Parrots. Other interesting birds, which we frequently encounter on our walks, are Long-tailed Finches, Masked Finches, Pallid Cuckoo, Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo, a variety of Honeyeaters and Black-tailed Treecreepers.
Accommodation: Knott’s Crossing Resort

Day 3

Early morning birding, and a visit to the Red Goshawk site near Mataranka is planned. It is possible that we visit Katherine Gorge in the afternoon. It’s a great place for close encounters with Great Bowerbirds and Blue-winged Kookaburras, which are easily photographed. A cruise into the Gorge is optional.
Accommodation: Knott’s Crossing Resort

Day 4 + 5

We drive to Mary River Roadhouse, which is just outside Kakadu N.P., but closest to the area where White-throated Grasswrens occur. As these birds have been very difficult to find we’ll try several times to locate them. There are several places for the Grasswrens and they require a certain amount of fitness, as it is climbing over huge boulders or up the Escarpment.
Accommodation: Mary River Roadhouse

Day 6

Should we have missed the Grasswrens we’ll depart very early and give it another try. Other birds in this region are Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeons, Sandstone Shrike-thrushes, Banded Fruit-doves and Northern Rosellas.
Afterwards we drive to Cooinda and do some local birding, looking for Black-tailed Treecreepers and Partridge Pigeons amongst others.

At about 4.30 p.m. we go on the ‘Yellow Waters’ Cruise, which at this time of the year is usually great for ducks, egrets, and other waterbirds, plus we could encounter the Little Kingfisher and Great-billed Heron.
Accommodation: Gagudju Cooinda Lodge

Day 7

This morning we visit Nourlangie Rock. Highlights are, apart from the Aboriginal rock art, Banded Fruit-Dove, Sandstone Shrike-thrush, White-lined Honeyeater and Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeon.
We depart Cooinda and via some birding spots leave Kakadu N.P. and return to Darwin.
Accommodation: Frontier Darwin

Day 8

Today we look for missing birds if necessary like Rainbow Pittas and Chestnut Rails. A visit
to the Leanyer Sewage plant is also planned, which could show us uncommon birds like Little
Ringed Plover and Long-toed Stint. In 2008 we were the first to discover the Eurasian Little
Accommodation: Frontier Darwin

Day 9

We fly quite early from Darwin to Kununurra. After picking up the hire vehicle we drive to our accommodation and spend the rest of the day birding in the local areas.
Accommodation: Country Club Resort, Kununurra

Day 10 – 12

Kununurra is famous for finches, and we aim to see 10 species of them here, mainly concentrating on Star Finches, Pictorella Mannikins, Yellow-rumped Mannikins and of course Gouldian Finches.

One day we leave very early in the morning and do a birdwatching cruise on Lake Argyle, and highlights are Yellow Chats, White-quilled Rock-Pigeons, Sandstone Shrike-thrushes and possibly Purple-crowned Fairy-Wrens plus a lot of water birds.

Parry’s lagoon, which is a great spot for a wide variety of birds, is another destination. Previously we counted over 40 species of birds at this location, including Oriental Plovers and Yellow Chats. Wyndham is close by, and we visit there briefly the shore. In the afternoon we go birdwatching in the local area around Kununurra or you have the chance of an optional flight or tour. A flight over the Bungle Bungles is very popular and recommended.

The best part of the tour is of course the flight to the Mitchell Plateau. From the airstrip we fly with helicopters almost right to the Black Grasswren spot, which has several permanent populations. We spend most of the morning birdwatching at the Mitchell Plateau and fly back to Kununurra at about lunchtime. Highlights apart from the Black Grasswren are the yellow-eyed form of the Partridge Pigeon, Kimberley Honeyeater and White-quilled Rock-Pigeon.
Accommodation: Country Club Resort, Kununurra

Day 13
After the morning birdwatching the tour ends. You have now the choice of returning to Darwin, stay in Kununurra or maybe travel on to Broome

**** All accommodation is air-conditioned ****