The Ur­ban Birder

With so many hours of sun­light, Dar­win of­fers am­ple opportunity for birdwatching – if you can stand the heat, that is

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: DAVID LINDO

David Lindo vis­its Dar­win in Aus­tralia, where he en­joys many un­usual birds

DAR­WIN IS SIT­U­ATED in North­ern Ter­ri­tory (NT) in what Aus­tralians term the Top End. The heat in NT can be un­for­giv­ing, and af­ter 30 min­utes of 36°C with 95% hu­mid­ity it can crum­ple re­solve and send you scur­ry­ing to seek refuge in the near­est air-con­di­tioned shop­ping mall. Ac­cord­ing to the World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­gan­i­sa­tion, the city is the world’s sun­ni­est af­ter Phoenix, Ari­zona, with 3,067 hours of sun­light per year. Dar­win is a coastal city fac­ing the Ti­mor Sea and is ac­tu­ally nearer to Ti­mor in south east Asia than it is to Bris­bane on the east coast. Its close prox­im­ity to Asia has a great in­flu­ence on the range of species to be found in the city, as some mi­grate to and from that re­gion. For many vis­it­ing bird­ers, the city is bet­ter known as the gate­way to Kakadu Na­tional Park, a wildlife won­der­land that is a three-hour drive to the east. But ig­nore this city’s avian virtues at your peril be­cause at the very least, it is a great iden­ti­fi­ca­tion train­ing ground in preparation for the mul­ti­tudes of birds to be found in Kakadu. My visit was timed for early April, out­side the rainy sea­son and dur­ing the South­ern Hemi­sphere’s au­tumn, thus mi­gra­tion was in ac­tion. There are a num­ber of birds that were to­tally ob­vi­ous. Masked Lap­wings with their pe­cu­liar flappy yel­low fa­cial wat­tles are ubiq­ui­tous with pa­trolling birds on al­most ev­ery stretch of green. Rain­bow Bee-eater, the only rep­re­sen­ta­tive of this colour­ful and largely Afro-asian fam­ily, are also preva­lent in the city, hav­ing freshly ar­rived to spend the win­ter. On the coasts, Sil­ver Gulls pa­trol and the parks are home to in­quis­i­tive Mag­pie Larks, a cu­ri­ous blend of Mag­pie meet­ing a Star­ling on steroids. Down­town is the venue for an in­cred­i­bly noisy nightly roost for sev­eral thou­sand Red-col­lared Lori­keets.

City tour

The Dar­win Botanic Gar­dens of­fers 42 acres to wan­der through, with most of it be­ing fairly open scat­tered wood­land. You should fairly easily come across Or­ange-footed Scrub­fowl, ei­ther nois­ily shuf­fling through the un­der­growth or strut­ting out in the open park lawns like chicken-shaped gi­ant Moorhens. Although not shy, they do keep a wary eye on any­one watch­ing them, and don’t usu­ally al­low very close ap­proach. There is also plenty of ac­tiv­ity in the trees. It will take a lit­tle bit of time to de­ci­pher the sev­eral hon­eyeater species that can be present. Ru­fous-banded, Dusky, Brown, Whitethroated and Blue-faced Hon­eyeater are all pos­si­ble along with Hel­meted Fri­ar­birds. These birds are not dif­fi­cult to see as they move through the trees

Blue-faced Hon­eyeater

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.