Australian Natural Adventures
Birding in Australia
Custom Australia, New Zealand & Pacific tours and travel
As bird tours and travel are a style of wildlife tour pretty much unto themselves, we thought we'd devote a page or two just to bird tours, mainly for birders. This page is for those among us who don't think it's strange to be looking the other way , not at the Taj Mahal (at least for a while) because there's a house crow across the road. Or consider that spending a few days at a bird lodge where there's no TV, no nightlife (other than talking birds or reading about them, and the only thing to do is to get up early and look at both beautiful and little brown birds, seems a good thing. That's not to say that birds aren't an important component of all of our nature tours, but if you're traveling to Australia and/or New Zealand just to bird, this is your starting page. (By the way, our birding pages have plenty of images,so will take a bit longer to download - we didn't compress them as much as usual, to keep them clearer).
Nature Travel Specialists does not operate dedicated, list-at-all-costs take no prisoners birding tours, but we do do know which of those dedicated bird tours may suit you best, as we know Australia and its birds pretty well (our Director, Andrew Haffenden, has personally seen over two-thirds of them, and conducted field research on magpie geese, brolgas and sarus cranes for many years. That's him on the right with Dyak headman on the Upper Mahakam River, Borneo, the day after having two groups of white-shouldered ibis). We do however create birding and wildlife tours that should satisfy all but the most laser-focused birder, and will enable you to take along your traveling companion while still returning home with a great bird list. We also offer birding modules to Tasmania and the Northern Territory suitable for dedicated birders. These are also suitable for the less serious birder and partners accompanying dedicated birders as in addition to going after the endemics and other highly desirable birds, we'll stop for other wildlife and natural history. But no, you won't be having to stand looking at a flower when you can glimpse what you are sure is a white-throated grasswren hopping around the spinifex, your guide will immediately turn eeveryones' attention to it. See our Tasmania and NT Birding section for these. From time to time we operate a 26 day super tour, and the 2011 26 day Australian birding and wildlife tour can be found here.
We also recognize that many birders like to organize their own birding travel, so we have included lots of links to companies and accommodations in Australia that you can contact directly. If there's anything we can do for you along the way - there's lots of aspects of comfortable and successful nature travel other than just booking wildlife tours and hotels - we'd be happy to so. If not, that's fine too; please explore these links, contact the companies, and good birding. We won't mind, however, if you tell the people you're booking with where you found them.
We can arrange an Australian bird and wildlife tour, an adaption of our 26 day tour . We call this a "Birding with Your Partner " tour, meaning that the tour is arranged to allow for plenty of birding, with top flight bird guides, but also time to look around with your non-birding partner, and activities arranged for the partner while you're out chasing down the lifers. This particular tour is more heavily birdy, with less alternative activites available, but will still suit a partner who is interested in nature - birds, other wildlife, plants etc - but wouldn't normally go on, or is usually a bit cranky on, the normal "up at 4.30am, to bed late after owling and up at 5 again and seeing nothing but birds all day every day" bird tours. This isn't one of those, but still is looking at 350+ bird species, and our guides will always be available for a very early look around, and a late bit of owling on nights there aren't any activities. We visit Cairns and the Tablelands, Australia's best birding region, advise close to a week in the top of the Northern Territory to do ido a pelagic trip that usually gets 30+ species. Tasmania, and/or a non-bird look at Ayers Rock, are also recommended, as is Victoria's mallee country. Click here for a sample itinerary, or call or email for more information. Naturally it's a small step to adapt this to a fully-fledged birding tour, customized to your needs and target species. We can also create short birding itineraries designed around some travel that you may already be taking - a conference for example - or a maybe a day's birding for you while your family goes shopping, to the beach, or other activity that you can escape from. A day birding around the Atherton Tablelands, or Sydney's Royal National Park, or the mangroves, monsoon forest and sewage works of Darwin, for example.
For those who have already visited, and birded, the east/south coast of Australia, and often Kakadu, the greatest bang for the buck, and some of Australia's best birds, is had by visiting Western Australia. The isolated side of Australia is largely uninhabited, with plenty of pristine and bird-rich country to explore. It also has a wide variety of habitats, from sandstone gorges and mangroves to dense eucalupt forest. Ashmore Reef hosts tens of thousands of seabirds, and the deserts and arid lands are home to many endemics. Broome Bird Observatory, run by Birds Australia, is a great place to start, with some 350 species of birds recorded in the area. Roebuck Bay, where the observatory is located, is Australia's most important migratory bird area, and one of the world's top four. Yellow Chat, one of Australia's most desirable birds, is a local resident at the Observatory. We can assist with your birding travel plans to Western Australia, please give us a call.
If you're visiting Cairns independently, the Tropical Bird Club has regular outings and also gets together on the Esplanade; you are welcome to join in either.
If you're spending time in the Sydney area, Carol Probets has tours around the Blue Mountains out to the Capertree Valley. In addition to her guide services there's good information on her website about birding the area generally. In Tasmania Dr Tonia Cochran offers a place to stay - Inala - on Tasmania's birdiest place, Bruny Island, and offers bird and wildlife guiding services. The Cumberland Bird Observers Club has regular outings that they welcome visitors to attend. Both are highly recommended. Tony Palliser's pelagic site gives dates and likely sightings (and a lot more) for monthly pelagic trips out of Sydney and Wollongong, a bit over an hour to the south. The sightings on these trips can put even trips out of the San Francisco area to shame in number of species seen. For even more southern, andalso Russian, pelagic birding, including Antarctica, Heritage Expeditions operates wildlife, nature and birding cruise expeditions from New Zealand, mostly from 14 to 22 days in length. Contact us for more information.
Like a sample of Australian birds? Click on this Eagle Cam link to watch a pair of White-bellied Sea-eagles on the nest. She laid eggs July 4 & 7, 2011, and these are expected to hatch around August 15. This is the pair's second cammed nest, an earlier one blew down in a storm - or rather the tree blew down. But the eagles re-nested nearby, and Birds Australia, operator of the videocam, set it up again on this second nest, like the first located in a Sydney suburb. Don't forget it's not light in Sydney until about 4pm CDT (Aug 3, 2011), getting lighter earlier as the year progresses.