Australian Natural Adventures

Birding in Australia

Custom Australia, New Zealand & Pacific tours and travel



17-Day Birding & Wildlife Tour



Day 1 - Los Angeles / Lost in Space
Check in at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Airport for our Qantas flight to Sydney, Australia. Australia begins the moment you step aboard your Qantas flight. The Australian style is apparent—easy going, casually efficient and very friendly. Qantas is known for its excellent food and in flight service, so sit back and enjoy the hospitality, meal and a movie. *D


Day 2 – Lost in Space
Day lost due to the International Dateline, but regained on the return journey.


Day 3 – Sydney / Cairns
Arrive in Sydney (or Brisbane), Australia early this morning. Pass through customs and immigration and transfer via the terminal bus to the domestic terminal for the flight to Cairns, far North Queensland. On arrival in Cairns we are met and transferred to your waterfront hotel, the Tradewinds Esplanade. The hotel is located on Cairns Esplanade, and directly opposite the best shorebird viewing site. At any time of the day the exposed muddy areas are prime feeding for hundreds of shorebirds, from large pelicans to tiny, busy Terek Sandpipers. Greater and Lesser Monglian Plovers, two species of tattler and of godwit, Marsh and Broad-billed Sandpiper, are some of the regulars, plus terns and a variety of herons. Low tide is mid-afternoon today, and although not the best for shorebirding, it is a medium tide and therefore not too far out. Although there are no structured activities today, there will be a birding guide on the Esplanade to help with shorebird ID. After our lunchtime arrival the rest of the day is free to relax. Don't, however, be tempted to have a nap or even lie down - we need to stay awake until at least 8pm to sleep well enough tonight to fall into the local time zone. As well as the hotel restaurants there are many others nearby. *M,*B


Day 4 – Great Barrier Reef
Today you are introduced to one of the natural wonders of the world—Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a series of reefs extending for about 1,250 miles along the coast of Queensland, nearly to Papua New Guinea. On your trip today you experience two important features—a coral inner-shelf reef, and the sandy vegetated cay formed on one end. Michaelmas Reef lies about 22 miles off the coast just north of Cairns, with Michaelmas Cay on its southern tip. It is an important seabird rookery, which becomes apparent as you approach the mass of birds swirling constantly above the cay. The four primary species are Crested, Lesser-crested and Sooty Terns, and Common Noddy. Lesser Frigatebirds are usually present, occasionally Greater, as are Silver Gulls, Brown Boobies and Ruddy Turnstones. The cay, most of which is off limits, is a National Park within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. However, the birds are very tolerant of visitors and stand thickly along the beach, allowing us to approach them within a few yards and less. Immediately offshore in waist-deep water, the first of the corals can be seen. For those not used to snorkeling, there is no easier introduction—just walk up to your waist, and bend over. Brilliantly colored fish, giant clams, beche de mer and coral outcrops can all be seen. Easy swimming in shallow water brings us over coral “bombies,” heads of coral with their assortment of fishes, and hard and soft corals. Parrot fish glean algae from the coral, and small and medium predators search for food. Schools of fish twist and flash between the outcrops. An occasional sea turtle may be seen. You glide around the coral in a semi-submersible submarine, dry and with your ordinary cameras, while a marine biologist describes the species seen and some of the processes at work. If you are interested, there are guided snorkel tours led by a marine biologist at additional cost. On your trip out, one of the marine biologists explains the development of this and other reef systems and gives us an introduction to many of the animal species that you see. Lunch is a tropical smorgasbord. In the afternoon you return to Cairns, under sail if the winds are right. Your transport to the reef is a 105 foot luxury, motor-sailing catamaran. There is time after your return this evening to visit Cairns, or you may wish to relax poolside at the hotel. L


Day 5 – Cairns / Atherton Tablelands
Early this morning we are picked up to begin birding and looking for other wildlife of the rainforest of the Atherton Tablelands. These World Heritage listed rainforests, at an elevation of about 2,500 ft, are home to some of Australia’s rarest and most unusual animals, including four kinds of very restricted possums, gliders, and the definitely weird tree kangaroo, a kangaroo which has adapted to a life in the trees, rather than on the ground. Your guide will take you to a small stream to wait for platypus, the egg-laying mammal unique to Australia, all the time describing the plants and dynamics of the surrounding rainforest. The endemic birds of the region are high on the target list. A special trip is made to a bower of the beautiful Golden Bowerbird, and in this area Satin Bowerbirds should also be seen. Mountain Thornbill, Atherton Scrubwren, Bridled Honeyeater, Bower's Shrike-thrush, the northern race of Lewin's Honeyeater and Fernwren are restricted to these higher areas. Spotted Catbird, Pale Yellow-robin, Rufous Shrike-thrush, Scrub Turkey, Grey-headed Robin, and Large-billed Scrubwren are more altitudinally widespread. Sunset will find us at a small swamp waiting for the evening arrival of Brolgas and Sarus Cranes. After dinner other animals, perhaps including the leaf-tailed gecko - eight inches long and colored and shaped like a piece of bark - will be found and seen, as we spend a couple of hours spotlighting for nocturnal animals, and owls including Barn Owl and Lesser Sooty Owl - Rufous Owl is possible - always make this a highlight of the day. D

Note: a full bird & wildlife trip list can be found here


Day 6 - Inland / Daintreemareeba rock wallby Queensland Australia
magpie geese Queensland Australia This morning after an early birdwalk we head north, out of the rainforest to drier country on the inland side of the Great Dividing Range. Along the way we'll stop at a small gorge to look for Mareeba Rock Wallabies, Pale-headed Rosella, Great Bowerbird, probable Red-winged Parrot, lorikeets, and other dry-country birds. These continue to be our focus, as we visit wetlands at Mareeba for a variety of ducks and Black-necked stork. Our exact itinerary will depend on bird activity, but we'll end the day back on the coast near Daintree, for our early morning river trip tomorrow.



Day 7 - Daintree / Cairns
spectacled flyctcher on nest Queensland AustraliaWe start the morning with a birding river trip with Chris Dahlberg, aimed at finding species such as Shining Flycatcher, Little Kingfisher, Papuan Frogmouth and Great-billed Heron. An average of 50 species is seen, including non-birds such as Saltwater Crocodile and Spectacled Flying-fox. We then continue to bird lowland rainforest, estuary and open woodland for target species, ending the day back in Cairns. Our three-day effort should yield 100 - 200 species, and includes a variety of habitats including dune, mangrove, estuarine, open scrub and forest, swamp, river and lake, and lowland and upland rainforest.



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