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Birdwatching in Kakadu

Listed under Birdwatching in Kakadu, Australia.

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Kakadu National Park is a World Heritage listed area approximately 250 km east of Darwin in Australia Northern Territory. The park covers almost 20,000 square kilometres and has some outstanding birding spots along the stunning 500 km long sandstone escarpments of Arnhemland and the vast floodplains of the Alligator rivers spread out before. Over 280 bird species have been recorded in Kakadu along with 62 mammal species, 125 reptiles, 25 frogs and over 10,000 insects. If you’re lucky you may probably notice a mosquito or two!

The main area to visit for a base is probably Cooinda where you can camp or stay in a rather nice motel environment. The hotel itself is built in the shape of a Saltwater (Estuarine) Crocodile!

Numerous birding and Aboriginal art sites are to be found within Kakadu and birds and art may be found together at most of these. Aboriginal peoples have lived in the park for over 50,000 years. Notably sites include Ubirr Rock; Nourlangie Rock and Anbangbang Billabong; Bardedjilidji Sandstone Walk; Gunlom Falls and Mardugal. Special birds such as Banded Fruit-Dove, White-throated Grasswren, Sandstone Shrike-thrush may be found at various sites.

The most outstanding experience though is not just for birds: Take the earliest cruise (sunrise hopefully) you can get on the Yellow Waters Billabong (book this at Cooinda the day before at least). It’s truly outstanding: being in the boat allows you to get very close to all the birds and other wildlife. Notably included on the cruise are very close views of Estuarine or Saltwater Crocodiles: BIG ONES! Additionally wallabies are seen from the cruise and around the campgrounds and lodge, dingo occasionally put in an appearance as do some large goanna’s (monitor lizards).

Some of the best birds here are Great-billed Heron, Little Kingfisher, Black Bittern, Buff-sided Robin as well as superb views of more common species such as White-bellied Sea-eagle. We had one swoop down and pick up a File Snake swimming along metres from the boat that caused great excitement; we hadn’t seen the snake as he (she) approached!

There is great birding to be had as you drive from Darwin and to make a circular trip of it you can leave the park by the southern entrance and return to Darwin via Katherine if time is on your side.

Written by  Alan McBride.

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