Trip report: Mega Australia custom tour (Sept-Oct 2015) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Scott Watson.

This was a custom tour that combined parts of two of our set-departure tours, Eastern Australia: From Top to Bottom and Australia’s Top End: Victoria River to Kakadu.

This amazing 28 day custom Australia tour was essentially our Top End tour combined with our Eastern Australia tour plus a pelagic. In essence it covers a huge amount of ground in a relatively short amount of time, targeting as many Australian endemic birds and mammals as possible, in the most diverse regions of the Island. In the end we saw a staggering 485 species of birds (not including 16 regional potential splits) and 48 species of mammals. This is a pretty incredible number in just 28 days, considering about 730 species of birds call Australia home, and on this tour we never visited the west, or the centre. 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.

This trip was full on and fast paced, trying to get to get to as many habitats as possible. We got to rainforest, Eucalypt woodland, Mallee scrub, coastal heath, freshwater and coastal marshes, Tussock grassland, mangroves, offshore islets, monsoon forest, rocky outcrops, open ocean trenches, and everything in between. We saw 33 species of Cockatoos and Parrots, both Pittas, both Lyrebirds, all possible Bowerbirds, Fairy-wrens, and Pardalotes, and a staggering (and personal best) 60 species of Honeyeaters! Add to this; 16 species of Kangaroos and Wallabies, both Monotremes (Platypus and Echidna), and weird mammals such as Long-tailed Pygmy-Possum, Feathertail Glider, and Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo. Seeing all the wildlife was great, but we also saw some of the best scenery the country has to offer, spent an afternoon snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, explored ancient aboriginal rock art, stayed at nice accommodation, ate great local foods, and met some interesting Aussies. You really can’t get a more action packed month exploring this incredible country.

Click this link to view the full report in PDF format (8 MB file)