Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Top End ~ Part Two

We are enjoying the hospitality of my Yabok, Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow. She is my much respected elder sister since my adoption into the Ngalanbali clan of the Kunwinjku people by my mummah, Una Thompson. This is an honor that I cherish and take very seriously. I am very grateful to be accepted into this wonderful family.

We are staying in Denise and Michael’s guest chalet (as a little cabin, or cottage is called out here) on their large property in the Darwin River area. It is truly bush-cool. It has an “Out of Africa” vibe to it that is awesome. It is hot and humid up here, but after the weeks in Broome, we have acclimated a bit to the heat. I am grateful and I am loving it!
Troopi just being a 'vehicle' while we are staying in the chalet.

I am sitting at that table writing this right now. I am grateful.
We have seen some cool birds too. On our way out Sunday morning, Lynn and I got our Lifer Partridge Pigeon. It was early and I got no photos. On our way home that evening after a massive downpour, we saw the world’s wettest, living Partridge Pigeon at the same spot. Then later the next day, Robert spotted one up the road and I got some photos of a beautiful, dry Partridge Pigeon. They are currently my favorite pigeon and I am very grateful!

The world's wettest, living Partridge Pigeon. Honestly, at first I was afraid it had drowned.

A dry Partridge Pigeon... just beautiful.
After our initial sighting of the Pigeon, we headed on to the Shoal Bay Waste Management Facility where there had been a Franklin’s Gull hanging about. After making friends with the nice guy who was the “gatekeeper,” we were basically being told on the phone to “f-off and leave” by his supervisor. Being able to be an asshole and still sound totally bland and disinterested is, I suppose, an asset for a person in a supervisory position.

However, the gatekeeper was cool and let us scope the tip-face from a grassy area by the gate. We had a clear view and the gull was not there. Sneaking in later in the afternoon was also unsuccessful (long story, with a blah ending, so I will skip it). Then believe it or not, I thought I might have dropped my iPhone case there that morning so we had to go back! This time, a guy who worked there recognized me and they just allowed us to go in! We had full access, but sadly the gull was still nowhere to be seen. Not at the ponds in the back, nor on the tip-face. I am very tired of this gull for now. But I am grateful that I found my Swaro iPhone case right where I thought I might have dropped it!

Monday morning we headed out about 50 minutes from here on the Arnhem Highway to the Adelaide River Crossing. It is known as a good birding spot (thank you Tim Dolby). In about twenty minutes, Lynn and I had two Arafura Fantails in the trees above us. Sweet! And a Lifer! We also added Mangrove Golden Whistler to the year list there. It was vocal as, but remained frustratingly un-photographable. That’s very much ok though and I am grateful.

Arafura Fantail looking at us as we were looking at him (or her).

Next we stopped by for a quick visit to Fogg Dam. We first went there in August of 2012. It is a wonderful birding area, but seemed a bit slow and it was quite buggy. We did pick up Rufous-banded Honeyeater for the year list and saw a lovely little Grey (brown) Whistler before the mozzies just about carried us away. For the most part mosquitoes do not bother me, but these were ridiculous. It seems they are quite bad up here in general this time of year, but we can deal with them.

Grey Whistler (brown) they are lovely, understated little birds.
Now we’re mostly caught up. We dipped on everything that we were looking for today. We did have some gorgeous Chestnut-breasted Mannikins, but not a single Yellow-rumped amongst them. Trust me we looked very hard for them.

Beautiful birds... but man, would I love to finally find a Yellow-rumped!
Now I am sitting in our little hut and working on this blog and the photos. I am so lucky to be sitting here and doing this. And I am deeply grateful. I wish you all joy with all my heart and I will keep you posted! Stay tuned there is much more to come...

Peace. Love. Birds.


  1. Yellow rumped. Kunnenurra.

    1. We searched all of the spots at Kununurra repeatedly, but they are not there this year. No one has seen them anywhere around there and even very, very few Chestnut-breasted.


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