Trip report: Eastern Australia II (Oct-Nov 2014) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Scott Watson.This was a set departure tour.

Australia, sometimes dubbed “The Island Continent”, can thank its unique wildlife to its isolation. With evolutionary processes allowed to run free, Australia is home to bird families found nowhere else on the planet. Emu, Plains-wanderer, Lyrebirds, Australian Mudnesters, Bristlebirds, and Pardalotes are families only found within Australia, and all found on this tour. Add Australia’s massive size and diverse array of habitats to this isolation, and you can a very species rich area. Consequently we found an impressive 435 species of birds and 38 species of mammals on our 19-day trip.

This trip is full on, and fast paced, trying to hit as many habitats as possible, covering a huge area in a relatively short amount of time. We get to rainforest, Eucalypt woodland, Mallee scrub, coastal heath, freshwater and coastal marshes, Tussock grassland, mangroves, offshore islets, and everything in between. The mammals were just as impressive. We saw both Monotremes (Echidna and Platypus), 13 different species of Kangaroo (including great views of Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo), Wombats, Bandicoots, Koalas, Dunnarts, and even a Humpback Whale. Of the 435 birds, bird-of-the-trip went to the tiny Little Penguin, and watching 15 of these birds emerge from the surf after dusk on a secluded beach, and then waddle right past us, was really something magical. Runner up went to Pink Robin, which does anything but blend in to the dark green forests of Tasmania. Honorable mentions go to the fantastic Noisy Pitta of which we had incredible views, and a duo of outback shorebirds; Plains-wanderer and Inland Dotterel.

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