Turning up the heat in the Top End

Jen's Gouldian finch at Lee Point.


I have been fortunate to have spent a portion of the past few weeks in Darwin, where it was hot and humid, in stark contrast to the conditions experienced on the Bellarine.

I was lucky to see 116 species of birds in six days, including five ‘lifers’. I saw several rose-crowned fruit doves, which is a bird I’ve always looked for but missed in the past.

I drove to Pine Creek, which is around 200km south of Darwin, to look for a hooded parrot and found a small flock of around eight these birds in the

middle of town, along with diamond doves, peaceful doves, great bowerbirds and red-collared lorikeets.

My favourite moment was laying eyes on an iconic Gouldian finch for the first time, and there was a flock of around 20 of these birds feeding on grasses a mere 200 metres from where I was staying at Lee Point.

I was horrified to hear that the bush and grassed area where the Gouldians are currently residing is currently being razed for a military housing estate. No wonder there is an extinction crisis in Australia when natural habitats where endangered animals and birds thrive are just destroyed without any thought for the creatures that need the environment to survive.

Lee Point in Darwin will not be a great place to visit without the surrounding bush. It was great to see a Gouldian finch, but they won’t be in Darwin for much longer. There was also a flock of chestnut-breasted mannikins at Lee Point.

I spent a ‘big birthday’ at Fogg Dam and Howard Springs, which was wonderful. I haven’t been to Fogg Dam when there was water in the dam, and there were thousands of birds everywhere I looked. Unfortunately for me I was looking at the birds when driving along the dam wall and didn’t expect a huge pothole in the road and drove straight into it, bursting the tyre on the hire car, which wasn’t on the plan for the day.

This cut short my visit to Fogg Dam, but it was still wonderful. I heard barking owls, saw pied herons, radjah shelducks, whistling ducks, kingfishers, raptors, jacanas, magpie geese and crimson finch. It was fabulous.

I have Kevin and Alan to thank for sending me some observations of birds that they have seen around the Bellarine over the past few weeks.

Kevin was able to spend some time at Lake Victoria, Point Lonsdale. He spotted a few red-capped plovers and, on his walk back, saw a singing honeyeater, a female white-fronted chat, a white-browed scrub-wren, and a flighty grey fantail.

I received an email from Alan, who spent an interesting 10 days in the Grampians with six at Dunkeld and four at Halls Gap. The Southern Grampians were much kinder for bird photography with 33 species photographed in and around the arboretum, just a 500 metre walk from the caravan park.

Alan reported that this area was well worth a walk-around if you are in that area. The Northern Grampians were very quiet for birds, which is unusual.