Southeast and Tasmania
14–30 September 2016
Extension to 4 October
This Australia tour will search for a large number of endemic species including Gang-gang Cockatoo, Superb Lyrebird and Plains-wanderer, many of which can only be found in the southeastern part of the continent, together with more widespread endemics. On the Tasmania extension, there are a further 12 endemics species as well as many endemic sub-species. Also kangaroos, wallabies, Koala and Platypus!
Day 1 Overnight flight from London to Melbourne.
Day 2 Arrival in Melbourne and transfer to a motel for a two-night stay.
Day 3 We will spend the day leisurely visiting various metropolitan parks and wetlands and exploring the eucalypt forests of the Dandenong Ranges. Some key species we will look for include Superb Lyrebird, Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo, King Parrot, Crimson Rosella, Rainbow, Musk Lorikeet, Laughing Kookaburra, Golden Whistler, Red-browed Treecreeper, Crescent, Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeaters and Rose Robin. Then after an early dinner we will visit a Little Penguin colony close to Melbourne’s CBD shortly after dusk for the 'penguin parade'. This is a less commercialised site so far more enjoyable site than others so we watch Little Penguins coming ashore) under the cover of darkness to avoid predators) in more natural conditions.
Day 4 Today we will drive east to Gippsland, then south to Wilson's Promontory. Habitats include a variety of beaches, mudflats, mangroves and eucalyptus woodlands. The main species we will be looking for include Australasian Gannet, Hooded Plover, Sooty Oystercatcher, Pacific and Silver Gulls, Crested Tern, White-fronted Chat, Eastern Yellow Robin and numerous honeyeaters. Overnight Gippsland.
Day 5 We will head east from Wilson's Promontory NP for the long drive to Mallacoota in far east Gippsland close to the NSW border. Mallacoota is a diverse area with wet eucalyptus forests, coastal heathland and estuaries. During the drive we will look for various key species including Glossy Black-cockatoo, Wonga Pigeon, Olive Whistler, Bell Miner, Satin Bowerbird and Rufous Fantail. Two nights Mallacoota.
Day 6 Today we will tour the Mallacoota area as well as visit the Croajingalong National Park where one of our target species will be Eastern Whipbird. This secretive bird has an extensive range up the east coast of Australia but only just creeps into the eastern edge of the state of Victoria. Other birds we are likely to see include Southern Emu-wren, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Ground Parrot, Large-billed Scrubwren, Jackie Winter and Beautiful Firetail. This region still retains 80 percent of the landscape as natural habitat and is very rich birding area.
Day 7 After breakfast we will head back west again, birding as we go, targeting any southern forest species we may have missed. Overnight Bairnsdale.
Day 8 Today we'll head inland and drive over Victorian Alps to Chiltern–Mt Pilot National Park. In 1997 this park was set up to protect the box-ironbark forest that once covered much of northeast Victoria. It is now home to one of the few scattered populations of the endangered Regent Honeyeater, and during our afternoon in the park we'll search for this scarce species as well as the endangered Swift Parrot following any recent reports. Other birds that we will hope to see include Painted Button-quail, Turquoise Parrot, Little Lorikeet, Speckled Warbler, Fuscous, Brown-headed, Black-chinned and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters plus White-throated Treecreeper, Red-capped Robin and Buff-rumped Thornbill. The park is also home to the rare Brush-tailed Phascogale, Squirrel Glider and Yellow-footed Antechinus although these are hard to see. In the evening we will look for Barking Owl. Overnight Chiltern.
Day 9 Following some morning birding around Chiltern we drive west and search for the rare and beautiful Superb Parrot in the colony close to Murray River. This region also provides a home for the now locally threatened Bush Thick-knee and Grey-crowned Babbler. In the late afternoon we shall head inland further to the Deniliquin area, where we will spend evening spotlighting for the unique endemic - enigmatic and secretive Plains-wanderer. We will be led by an expert local guide as this bird is notoriously tricky to find. Other birds we may see during our excursions today here include Stubble Quail, Little Buttonquail, Crested Tit-shrike, Western Gerygone, Yellow Rosella, Gilbert’s Whistler, Striped Honeyeater and Inland Dotterel. Overnight Echuca.
Days 10–11 Today we will drive into north-west Victoria and the Mallee country, where over a full two days we will explore the Hattah-Kulkyne, Murray-Sunset and Wyperfeld National Parks. Species we may see include Emu, Little Eagle, Collared Sparrowhawk, Malleefowl, Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, Little Corella, Regent Parrot, Bluebonnet, Mallee Ringneck, Mallee Emu-wren, Splendid Fairywren, Striated Grasswren, Hooded Robin, Chestnut-crowned and White-browed Babblers, Southern Whiteface, Shy Heathwren, Chestnut-rumped and Inland Thornbills, Crested Bellbird, Grey Currawong, Chestnut Quail-thrush and Southern Scrub-robin. Also possible but may take more work is Red-lored Whistler and Redthroat. Two nights in Ouyen.
Day 12 Today we will begin our journey back south with a last chance to look for mallee species missed yesterday, until we reach the Little Desert National Park. Continuing on, we will eventually reach the mountains of the Grampian National Park. En-route we will look for Blue-winged Parrot, Southern Scrub-robin, Tawny-crowned and Purple-gaped Honeyeater, various cuckoos, thornbills (including Slender-billed Thornbill), and a variety of parrots. Arriving back in the better watered country of the Grampians we have the chance to see Gang Gang Cockatoo, Long-billed Corella and Scarlet Robin. Overnight Halls Gap.
Days 13–14 Continuing further south towards the coast of extreme south-western Victoria we will look for the shy and elusive Rufous Bristlebird. Other species we will search for along the coastal beaches, heaths and open ocean include Shy and Black-browed Albatrosses, Short-tailed Shearwater, Black-faced Cormorant, Blue-winged Parrot, Satin Bowerbird, Brush Bronzewing, Buff-banded Rail and White-eared Honeyeater. This is also one of the best regions in Australia to observe Koalas and we should connect with this iconic animal. Overnight Port Campbell.
Day 15 We will spend the day traveling along the coast back towards Melbourne passing through a wide range of habitats with many chances to pick up any of the trickier birds we may have missed so far. Today can include some seawatching for more albatross etc., scouring the coastal heaths for Southern Emu-wren and Rufous Bristlebird, as well as visiting some temperate rainforest in the Otways with Pink Robin. Overnight Aireys Inlet.
Day 16 Our last day before returning to Melbourne will offer a number of potential new birds. The dry woodlands of the Brisbane Ranges have populations of the skulking Spotted Quail-thrush and Chestnut-rumped Heathwren. Wetlands around Lara and Werribee on Port Phillip Bay hold Cape Barren Goose, Magpie Goose, Brolga, Fairy Tern, Latham’s Snipe, Blue-billed Duck, whilst the surrounding plains and grasslands are good for Striated Fieldwren, Banded Lapwing, Zebra Finch, Brown Quail and a wide diversity of raptors. We will arrive back in Melbourne in the evening for either an overnight stay for the Tasmanian extension or an international flight back to the UK.
Day 17 Arrival back in the UK at the end of the tour.
Day 16 Stay in Melbourne overnight after the other participants on the main tour depart. Night in Melbourne.
Day 17 Morning flight from Melbourne to Hobart in Tasmania. On arrival, we will visit Mount Wellington, which, on a clear day, gives spectacular views. Walking through a nearby glade with giant tree ferns provides our first chance to see the endemic Black Currawong, Scrubtit and Tasmanian Scrubwren. Superb Fairy-wren and Grey Shrike-thrush are also common in this area and throughout Tasmania. If there is time, we will visit some other reserves around Hobart. Overnight in Hobart.
Day 18 Today we will travel to Bruny Island and spend two full days looking for all the Tasmanian endemics and some other specialties of the area. Species we should encounter today include the endemic Green Rosella, Yellow Wattlebird and Dusky as well as Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Flame Robin, Maned Duck and White-faced Heron. We will spend some time on north Bruny Island where White-bellied Sea-eagle, Brown Falcon and Australian Magpie can be found before visiting some southern coastal areas where it is possible to see the Tasmanian sub-species of Brown Quail, New Holland Honeyeater and Kelp Gull. Also, there is a chance to see the Tasmanian subspecies of Short-beaked Echidna in the wild. After dinner, we will visit the Little Penguin and Short-tailed Shearwater rookery to view these species at their burrows. Two nights on Bruny Island.
Day 19 We will take an early morning bird walk at "Inala", a privately owned 500 acre Land for Wildlife property on south Bruny Island. This is a refuge for a number of threatened birds and home to all of the Tasmanian endemic species. Birds we are likely to see include the endangered Forty-spotted Pardalote, Strong-billed, Black-headed and Yellow-throated Honeyeaters and Tasmanian Native-hen. The white morph of Grey Goshawk is also regular here. In the afternoon we will explore a number of different habitats, from coastal beaches to rainforest for Tasmanian Thornbill and species we may have missed before. After dinner, we will make a nocturnal excursion to look for Tawny Frogmouth, Southern Boobook and Masked Owl, although finding these birds requires a slice of luck, and a range of Tasmania's nocturnal marsupials including Eastern Quoll and Golden Bennett's Wallaby and Brush-tailed Possums.
Day 20 Today we will leave Bruny Island after breakfast and travel to a National Park near Hobart. This area will give us another chance of species we may have missed before plus Spotted Pardalote and Forest Raven There is also a chance of seeing Platypus in the wild. We will then take a late afternoon flight back to Melbourne to connect with our international flight back to the UK.
Day 21 Arrival back in the UK at the end of the tour.
General information The climate can vary from cool to mild with some rain to be expected. There will be a moderate amount of walking, mainly on good terrain. There are no special medical requirements and insects are not a major problem. Visas are required. Distances are quite long but the roads are good and driving is relaxed, with plenty of opportunities to stop. Accommodation standards are good with most motel and lodge rooms having en-suite facilities. Expect to see around 200 species.
Group size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 6; maximum group size: 10 with 1 leader or 12 with 2 leaders.