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  • Photograph of Pied Heron

    Pied Heron by Jon Hornbuckle.

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    Best Birds and other wildlife in Northwest Australia

    The lists below are for the northern winter/southern spring and summer.

    Northwest Australia Endemics 5
    White-quilled Rock-pigeon, Black Grasswren, Kimberley (White-lined) Honeyeater, Dusky Gerygone (south to Pilbara coast) and Kimberley Flyrobin.

    North and Northwest Australia Endemics 13
    Partridge Pigeon, Northern Rosella, Varied Lorikeet, Rainbow Pitta, Purple-crowned Fairy-wren, White-quilled (Blue-faced) Honeyeater, White-breasted Whistler, Sandstone Shrike-thrush, Silver-backed Butcherbird, Buff-sided Robin, Yellow-rumped Mannikin, Long-tailed Finch and Gouldian Finch.

    Other specialities
    Pied Heron, Brolga Crane, Spinifex Pigeon, Red-collared Lorikeet, Oriental Plover, Little Curlew, Asian Dowitcher, Black-tailed (Mangrove Golden) Whistler, Masked and Star Finches, and Pictorella Mannikin. Also a chance of Chestnut-backed, Red-backed and Red-chested Buttonquails, Australian Masked-owl, Australian Owlet-nightjar and Northern Shrike-tit, and an outside chance of Red Goshawk.

    Brown Quail, Magpie Goose, Plumed and Wandering Whistling-ducks, Radjah Shelduck, Green Pygmy-goose, Pink-eared Duck, Great Pied Cormorant, Australasian Darter, White-necked (Pacific) Heron, Rufous Night-heron, Black-necked Stork, Straw-necked Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, Spotted Harrier, Brahminy and Whistling Kites, Wedge-tailed Eagle, White-bellied Sea-eagle, Black-breasted Buzzard, Collared Sparrowhawk, Black Falcon, Australian Hobby, Australasian (Purple) Swamphen, Australian Bustard, Bush Thick-knee, Pacific Golden Plover, Black-fronted Dotterel, Red-capped Plover, Comb-crested Jacana, Far Eastern Curlew, (Eastern) Black-tailed Godwit, Grey-tailed Tattler, Great Knot, Red-necked Stint, Broad-billed, Sharp-tailed and Terek Sandpipers, Australian Pratincole, Brush Cuckoo, Pheasant Coucal, Red-tailed Black-cockatoo, Little Corella, Red-winged Parrot, Tawny Frogmouth, Spotted Nightjar, Red-backed Kingfisher, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Rainbow Bee-eater, Great Bowerbird, Black-tailed Treecreeper, Purple-backed (Variegated) and Red-backed Fairy-wrens, Yellow Chat, Silver-crowned Friarbird, Red-headed Myzomela, Bar-breasted, Brown, Grey-headed, Rufous-throated, White-gaped, White-throated and Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters, Yellow-throated Miner, Grey-crowned Babbler, Black-faced and Little Woodswallows, Pied Butcherbird, White-bellied Cuckooshrike, White-winged Triller, Green and Olive-backed Orioles, Varied Sitella, Mangrove and Northern Fantails, Broad-billed, Leaden and Paperbark Flycatchers, Magpie-lark, Mistletoebird, Australian Zebra, Black-bellied Crimson and Double-barred Finches, and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin. Also a chance of Brown Booby, Lesser Frigatebird, Baillon’s and White-browed Crakes, and Long-toed Stint.

    Australian Snubfin (Irrawaddy) Dolphin, Agile, Northern Nailtail and Short-eared Rock Wallabies, Euro (Common Wallaroo) and Black Flying Fox. Also a chance of Monjon, Northern Quoll, Scaly-tail Possum and Golden-backed Tree Rat.

    Freshwater Crocodile and Frilled Lizard.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Northwest Australia

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Northwest Australia

    The best time to visit Northwestern Australia is during the July-September dry season, since the Gibb River Road is usually only fully navigable (in a 4WD) at this time. However, the shorebird spectacle is usually at its best during the middle of the austral spring and summer (Nov-Mar).

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Northwest Australia

    The Australian Bird Guide by P Menkhorst. PUP, 2017.

    The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds by P, P and R Slater. Reed/New Holland, 2009 (Revised Edition).

    The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by G Pizzey and F Knight. Harper Collins, 2012 (Ninth Edition).

    Birds of Australia by K Simpson and N Day. PUP, 2010 (Eighth Edition).

    Field Guide to Australian Birds by Michael Morcombe: complete compact edition. Steve Parish Publishing, 2016.

    Field Guide to Australian Birds by Michael Morcombe. Steve Parish Publishing, 2003.

    The Complete Guide to Australian Birds (Photographic) by George Adams. Viking Australia, 2019.

    Finding Australian Birds by T Dolby and R Clarke. CSIRO, 2014.

    The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia by R Thomas et al. CSIRO, 2011 (Second Edition).

    Field Companion to the Mammals of Australia by S Van Dyck et al. New Holland, 2012.

    A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia by P Menkhorst and F Knight. OUP, 2010 (Third Edition).

    Field Guide to Australian Mammals by C Jones and S Parish. Steve Parish Publishing, 2006.

    The Complete Guide to Finding the Mammals of Australia by D Andrew. CSIRO, 2015.

    A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia by S Wilson and G Swan. New Holland, 2013 (Fourth Edition).

    The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia by M Braby. CSIRO, 2004.

    Wildlife of Australia: Princeton Pocket Guides by I Campbell and S Woods. PUP, 2013.

    Wildlife of Australia by L Egerton and J Lochman. Allen and Unwin, 2009.

    Bradt Travel Guides: Australian Wildlife by S Martin. Bradt, 2010.

    Apps etc.

    The Michael Morcombe and David Stewart eGuide to the Birds of Australia.

    Pizzey and Knight Birds of Australia.

    Where to watch birds in Australasia & Oceania by N Wheatley. Helm, 1998.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Australasia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Northwest Australia

    Many trip reports, some for Northwestern Australia, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Northwestern Australia. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Northwestern Australia' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Australia

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation for birders in Northwest Australia

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Northwest Australia

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to Northwestern Australia in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.