Birding Darwin and The Top End

Please follow the links above for details of the birding sites around Darwin West, Kakadoo National Park, Pine Creek and Katherine

Darwin Harbour

Look around Stokes Hill, Fishermans and Fort Hill wharves for such birds as Lesser Frigatebird, Brown Booby and unusual gull species

Bicentennial Park and The Esplanade

Species include - Torresian Imperial-Pigeon, Great-billed Heron, White-gaped Honeyeater, Rufous-banded Honeyeater, Northern Fantail, Barking Owl, Green-backed Gerygone, Pacific Swift, Silver-crowned Friarbird, Little Kingfisher, Whiskered Tern, Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Australian Yellow White-eye, Torresian Kingfisher, Diamond Dove,

Botanical Gardens

Please follow the Gardens Map link for maps of the gardens.

The Darwin Botanical Gardens is the most reliable place for Rufous Owl. Their favourite roosting site is the trees immediately beside the main toilet block, tending to roost in the large broad trees with an open under-canopy, about 15 m up. If you do not find them, they sometimes found a bit further up the path near the playground, while another spot is the larger open trees along the rainforest walk, look near the pond in the north east section or in the taller trees along the small path at the bottom of the rainforest habitat. If you have difficulty locating them, ask the gardens staff.

Keep your eyes open for roosting Barking Owl, particularly in the larger trees between the fountain and the rainforest walk. Other birds to look for include Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Oriental Cuckoo (wet season), Pale-vented Bush-hen, Radjah Shelduck, Little Curlew (summer), Orange-footed Scrubfowl (common and relatively tame), Varied Triller, Cicadabird, and Spangled Drongo.

Charled Darwin National Park

Located 8 kilometers from the CBD. To get there take Tiger Brennan Drive. It is a particularly good place to see woodland birds such as Varied Lorikeet, Northern Rosella, Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Brown Quail, Banded Honeyeater, Silver-crowned Friarbird, and Great Bowerbird.

Bordering the park is a large expanse of mangrove. At the end of the national park access road, a path leads to a border section of mangrove. Look for Yellow White-eye, Red-headed Honeyeater, Chestnut Rail, Pale-vented Bush Hen and White-breasted Whistler.

Darwin North

East Point

A 200 hectare recreation area, has a range of habitats including monsoon forest, mangroves, open parkland, and beaches with rocky outcrops. To get there from Darwin take Gardens Road and continue on to Gilruth Avenue and then East Point Rd. Continue down East Point Rd and then Alec Fong Lim Dr for a further 3.8 km.

On the monsoon forest walk, which starting just before the Pee-Wee's at the Point restaurant, check forest floor for Rainbow Pitta, Emerald Dove and Orange-footed Scrubfowl. In the forests mid-storey we saw Green-backed Gerygone, Grey Whistler, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, cuckoos such as Little and Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo, Oriental Cuckoo (uncommon during the wet), and Pheasant Coucal. In the canopy look and listen for Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove (in winter perching on powerlines at East Point), Yellow Oriole, and Spangled Drongo. Honeyeaters include Brown, White-gaped, Bar-breasted and Banded (uncommon) Honeyeater, Little and Silver-crowned Friarbird. At night Rufous Owl (uncommon), Large-tailed Nightjar, Owlet Nightjar may be encountered.

Mixed flocks of shorebirds roosted on the reefs and beaches at the end of Alec Fong Lim Dr in the north-west section of East Point. Birds include Pacific Golden and Grey Plover, Lesser and Greater Sand Plover, Grey-tailed Tattler, Terek and Common Sandpiper, Great Knot, Eastern and Little Curlew, Red-necked Stint, Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, and Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Pectoral Sandpiper, Asian Dowitcher and Common Redshank. Other birds include Intermediate Egret, Striated and Eastern Reef Heron, Beach Stone-curlew and terns such as Little, Gull-billed, Caspian, Common (summer), Lesser Crested and Crested Tern.

At low tide, when the mudflats are exposed in the mangroves on the north-east shoreline of the reserve (between Ludmilla Creek and Colivas Rd), look out for Chestnut Rail, Collared Kingfisher, Green-backed and Mangrove Gerygone, Yellow White-eye, Black Butcherbird, Shining Flycatcher and Mangrove Golden Whistler (uncommon).

Coconut Grove

Park at the end of Ostermann Street, walk towards mangroves and turn left onto a small track along the beach which then veers off into the mangroves and comes out on the mud flats.

Species recorded are Brush Cuckoo, Large-billed Gerygone, Black-tailed Whistler, Mangrove Robin, Australian Yellow White-eye, Torresian Kingfisher, Green-backed Gerygone, Black Butcherbird, Arafura Fantail, Broad-billed Flycatcher, Shining Flycatcher, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Northern Fantail, Zitting Cisticola, Helmeted Friarbird, Chestnut Rail, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Little Shrikethrush and Little Kingfisher


The Rockshelf near Aralia Street - Great Knot, Rufous-banded Honeyeater, Bush Thick-knee, Pacific Swift, Lesser Frigatebird, Brown Booby, Oriental Plover, Torresian Kingfisher, Pied Heron and Varied Lorikeet

The Casuarina Drive Foreshore - Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Christmas Island Frigatebird, Lesser Frigatebird, Bridled Tern, Lesser Crested Tern, Long-tailed Finch, Oriental Plover, Little Curlew, Black-bellied Plover.

Rapid Creek

Check Rapid Creek Estuary for - Barking Owl, Black Butcherbird, Torresian Imperial-Pigeon, Honeyeaters and around the footbridge for Chestnut Rail and Yellow Wagtail.

The open areas around the car park are known for Cuckoos - Little, Brush, Pallid and Oriental.

Charles Darwin University

Located 12 km from Darwins CBD. To get there from the Stuart Hwy take Bagot Rd onto Trower Rd and turn left into Lakeside Drive. At the first roundabout take Dripstone Rd, and at the second roundabout turn left into University Drive South.

On the west side of University Drive South, riverine monsoon forest borders Rapid Creek Here you can see most of Darwins resident honeyeaters as well as Varied Lorikeet, Red-winged Parrot, Pied Imperial-Pigeon, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Grey Whistler and raptors such as Collared Sparrowhawk and Pacific Baza. Further along University Drive South (at the intersection of University Drive West) is a pathway that leads to Casuarina Beach. (See Track From Uni on Map) The track winds through melaleuca and mangrove forest, expect to see Yellow White-eye, Large-billed and Green backed Gerygone, particularly near the footbridge 100 m from the road. Chestnut Rail occasionally feed openly in the grassy areas of the university.

Further along the walk look in the forest fringe for Orange-footed Scrubfowl, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Northern Fantail, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher and Channel-billed Cuckoo (summer). Around the small grass-covered sand dunes you should see Masked, Long-tailed and Double-barred Finch, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Peaceful and Bar-shouldered Dove, Varied Triller, Red-backed Fairy-wren and the Striated Pardalote.

Darwin Hospital and Free Beach

The best birding is along the walkway to the beach located west of the Paracelsus Road carpark. At night, look for Bush Stone-curlew in the car parks. During the dry season, the car park is also a good place to see Spotted Nightjar hawking for insects near street lights.

From the carpark at Free Beach there is a Mangrove Boardwalk about 1km north which leads to the hospital. This is probably the track reffered to above - Look for Black Bittern, Cuckoos, Mangrove Golden Whistler, Paperbark Flycatcher and Crimson Finch.

Lee Point and Buffalo Creek

At the northern end of Casuarina Coastal Reserve, the Lee Point beach and shore-point serves as a high tide roost for shorebirds. Around the car park expect to see Varied Triller, Leaden Flycatcher, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, and Pacific Baza. The car park at night is an excellent site to see (more often heard) Large-tailed Nightjar and Barking Owl

The Lee Point Beach and shore-point serves as a high tide roost for shorebirds. A beautiful place, at the point itself are several small reefs where shorebirds roost. Look for Grey and Pacific Golden Plover, Grey-tailed Tattler, Terek Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Pied and Sooty Oystercatcher, Eastern Reef Egret, Lesser Crested, Little, Roseate (uncommon) and Caspian Tern and at sea Lesser Frigatebird, Brown Booby and Barn Swallow (uncommon summer).

Buffalo Creek, a short 1 km drive from Lee Point (reached via Buffalo Creek Rd south of Lee Point), is an area of mangrove and coastal monsoon forests adjoining tidal sandbanks

Buffalo Creek mudflats are a reliable place to see Chestnut Rail. Sit at the boat ramp, and looking across to the shore opposite, and wait for the birds to walk out on the edge of the mudflat. The best time is in the early morning or late evening on a low tide. Listen for their loud harsh kark kark call. Buffalo Creek is a popular boating spot, so you may need to wait for quiet periods between boat launches. (Note: if you miss seeing Chestnut Rail here, another good site is the Stuart Park mangroves, 3 km from Darwin City Centre on Tiger Brennan Drive.)

Immediately to the right of the boat ramp a small (often muddy) trail walks into the mangroves. Look for Red-headed, Rufous-banded and White-gaped Honeyeater, particularly when Grey Mangrove (Avicennia marina) is flowering, Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, Green-backed and Large-billed Gerygone, Grey Whistler, Yellow White-eye, Varied Triller, Mangrove Grey Fantail and Mangrove Golden Whistler (uncommon). Along the creek's edge look for Little and Azure Kingfisher, Striated and Nankeen Night Heron, and Chestnut Rail skulking in the mangroves. Raptors fishing along the creek include White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Brahminy, and Whistling Kite. Renting a dinghy and outboard from a boat hire company in Darwin can be worthwhile, giving you access to the river and areas of mangrove further downstream, and also giving you a chance of seeing Great-billed Heron.

The beach and extensive tidal flats adjoining Buffalo Creeks mouth hold large numbers of shorebirds such as Whimbrel, Eastern Curlew, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Greenshank, Terek Sandpiper, Sanderling, Great Knot, Sanderling, Grey and Pacific Golden Plover, Lesser Sand and Greater Sand Plover, Little, Caspian, Crested and Lesser Crested Tern. Beach Stone-curlew also occurs in the area. The mudflats have good potential for rarities, such as Kentish Plover, recorded here in November 1988. Birders should also scrutinise flocks of Silver Gulls carefully for Black-headed Gull.


25 August..................High 6.09AM..................Low 12.24PM..................High 5.43 PM

26 August..................High 6.41AM..................Low 12.47PM..................High 6.17 PM

27 August..................High 7.09AM..................Low 1.11PM

28 August..................High 7.35AM..................Low 1.38PM

29 August..................High 6.09AM..................Low 2.10PM

Leanyer Sewerage Ponds

Just before the main entrance to the treatment ponds, a drain and track lead north for approximately 80 m. This area is good for finches such as Double-barred, Long-tailed and Crimson Finch and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin; Yellow-rumped Mannikin have been seen.

Once inside Leanyer the best method for birding is to drive up and down the causeways between ponds. Rarities include Swinhoes and Pin-tailed Snipe, Little Ringed Plover, Long-toed Stint, Red-necked Phalarope, Little Curlew, Ruff, Oriental Plover, Oriental Pratincole, Garganey (odd birds are sometimes found in flocks of Grey Teal and Pacific Black Duck), Northern Pintail, Barn and Red-rumped Swallow. More common species include Pied Heron. Waders include Pacific Golden Plover, Common, Wood, and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit, and Black-winged Stilt. Also look for Gull-billed, Whiskered and White-winged Black Tern (summer), White-breasted Woodswallow, Brown Quail, Pale-vented Bush Hen (around the vegetated fringes during the Wet), Horsfields Bushlark and Flock Bronzewing (rare).

The third area in which to concentrate your birding are the mangroves bordering the ponds on the northeast side. Look for Great-billed Heron, Little Kingfisher, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Mangrove Gerygone (in areas of low growing Grey Mangrove), Yellow White-eye, Dollarbird (summer), Red-headed Honeyeater, Cicadabird, Broad-billed, Paperback and Shining Flycatcher, Northern, Arafura and Mangrove Grey Fantail, Grey Whistler, Mangrove and Green-backed Gerygone, Mangrove Whistler and White-breasted Whistler.

Darwin West

Holmes Jungle

Please follow the Park Map link for details

Knuckley Lagoon

Please follow the Park Map link for details

Howard Springs

Please follow the Park Map link for details

Fogg Dam

Either on the way or on the way back, stop at the following site.

First car park - Broad-billed, Leaden and Paperbark Flycatcher, Brush Cuckoo, honeyeaters such as White-gaped, Bar-breasted and Rufous-banded.

Monsoon Forest Walk - The denser forest near the start of the walk can be good for Rainbow Pitta. Other birds to look for include Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove and Emerald Dove, Orange-footed Scrubfowl and Blue-winged Kookaburra.

Woodlands to Waterlily Walk - Little Kingfisher, Green-backed Gerygone, Lemon-bellied and Broad-billed Flycatcher, Grey (Brown) Whistler, Dusky and Red-headed Honeyeater, Northern Fantail, Yellow White-eye. The grassy fringes of the floodplain can be especially good for Tawny Grassbird, Golden-headed Cisticola, Australian Reed-Warbler, Crimson Finch and Chestnut-breasted and Yellow-rumped Mannikin

Please follow the Park Map link for details

Dam Wall Walk - following the causeway along Fogg Dam Rd, it's about 2 km return - White-browed and Baillons Crake, and Buff-banded Rail in the marshy shallow fringes near the central viewing platform, Comb-crested Jacana walking on lily pads, and for terns such as Gull-billed, Whiskered and White-winged Black Tern. The Pandanus Lookout - Radjah Shelduck, Green Pygmy-Goose, Royal Spoonbill, Black-necked Stork, Glossy Ibis and Pied Heron.

Just west of the Pandanus Lookout is a causeway, here a great flocks of Pied Heron, Intermediate and Great Egret feed on smaller fish. Birds of prey hunting over the wetlands include Swamp Harrier, Whistling and Black Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle and Pacific Baza. Also seem at Fogg Dam were several Freshwater Crocodile.

McMinns Lagoon

Marlow Lagoon

Wort a look for ducks, waders and forest birds