The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Australia & The Pacific Islands

WESTERN AUSTRALIA – The Ultimate tour to the Southwest, Broome, the Kimberley and Christmas Island

Saturday 6th September – Wednesday 24th September 2025

Leaders: Hannu Jännes and an assistant

19 Days Group Size Limit 8
Christmas Island Extension

Tuesday 2nd September – Saturday 6th September 2025

5 Days Group Size Limit 8


Birdquest’s Western Australia birding tours, which include Christmas Island, are part of a series of Australia birding tours that comprehensively cover this island continent with its huge number of endemic birds. Our ultimate Western Australia birding tour offers the most comprehensive coverage of this scenic and diverse state available. The Christmas Island birding tour extension adds in this remote tropical island that is far nearer Java than Australia, home to the strange Abbott’s Booby, Christmas Island Frigatebird and some interesting endemic landbirds.

Australia, the smallest continent or the largest island on earth, depending on how you like to look at it, has been cut off from the rest of the world for more than sixty million years and as a result has evolved a remarkable and unique flora and fauna. The birdlife has followed its own evolutionary path and Australia has more endemic bird species (over 300) than any other country and many bird families which are entirely restricted to it or which do not extend beyond Australasia.

Australia’s immense geographical area means that it is simply impossible to see the great majority of its endemic birds during a single visit of just a few weeks, so it is far more sensible to regard the island continent as a place where one should make two or more visits. Superb, mostly easy, birding combined with good travelling conditions make for an unforgettable experience.

This exciting tour has been specifically designed to concentrate on the many endemic specialties of the western region of Australia. Western Australia is one of a series of classic Birdquests that between them cover every corner of Australia and achieve a level of coverage of its specialities that is unequalled.

The main section of our Western Australia birding tour begins in Perth in the state of Western Australia and from there we will go on to explore the verdant southwestern corner of the continent, an area with a splendid variety of endemics, including huge Carnaby’s and Baudin’s Black-Cockatoos, Elegant Parrot, the dazzling Blue-breasted Fairy-wren, Western Bristlebird, Western Whipbird and the famous Noisy Scrub-bird, and some of the finest displays of wildflowers anywhere in the world.

Afterwards we head north into the state’s arid interior, where we will track down both Copperback Quailthrush and Western Quailthrush. Our final birding in the southwest will be a foray north from Perth to look for Rock Parrot.

From the south, in total contrast, we will head far to the north. Here we will first visit Broome on the northern coast of Western Australia, where the largest concentrations of trans-equatorial migratory waders in the whole of Australia are to be found, with star attractions including Great Knot and Asian Dowitcher. Other likely highlights include the localized Dusky Gerygone and both White-breasted and Mangrove Golden Whistlers.

Next we will penetrate deep into the spectacular Kimberley massif, to the remote Mitchell Plateau, in order to look for four special birds that are endemic to northwestern Australia; the sought-after Black Grasswren, White-quilled Rock-Pigeon, the exquisite Purple-crowned Fairy-wren and Kimberley Honeyeater.

Finally we will explore the Kununurra region, one of the foremost birding locations in the western half of the continent. As we search for the area’s varied birdlife we shall take a boat trip on Lake Argyle and explore irrigated farmland and dry woodland. Here we shall be seeking such specialities as Oriental Plover, Spinifex Pigeon, Northern Rosella, Sandstone Shrikethrush, the rare Yellow Chat and Yellow-rumped and Pictorella Mannikins, as well as a host of other fine birds ranging from the stately Brolga to Australian Pratincole.

During the optional extension, there will be an exciting opportunity to enjoy a few days on remote Christmas Island, a truly oceanic Australian island with a totally different feel to it. Its rich and well-protected rainforests are home to the entire world breeding populations of the enigmatic Abbott’s Booby, Christmas Island Frigatebird and the extraordinary Golden Tropicbird, and also hold such endemics as Christmas Island Goshawk, Christmas Island Imperial Pigeon, Christmas Island Hawk-Owl, Christmas Island Swiftlet and Christmas Island White-eye, as well as some of the most remarkable crabs on earth.

Birdquest has operated Western Australia birding tours since 1985.

Christmas Island-only Option: We can accept limited bookings for the Christmas Island extension only. Please contact us if you are interested.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/motels are of good or medium standard throughout. Road transport is by minibus/passenger van and 4×4 vehicles and roads are mostly good (even the dirt roads are mainly well graded).

Walking: The walking effort during our Western Australia birding tour is mostly easy, but there are a few moderate grade walks including one or two optional hikes in uneven terrain.

Climate: In the southwest conditions are changeable with periods of warm, dry and sunny weather alternating with cool, overcast and wet spells. In the interior and north most days are warm or hot (sometimes very hot), dry and sunny (although it can get very cool at night in the interior). While overcast conditions are not infrequent, there is only a low probability of rain. It is generally rather humid near the north coast.

Bird Photography: Opportunities during our Western Australia birding tour are good.


  • Observing bizarre Musk, rare Freckled and gaudy Blue-billed Ducks on Perth’s city lakes
  • Seeking out fabulous Blue-breasted and Red-winged Fairy-wrens in the undergrowth of eucalyptus dominated woodland
  • Scoping the highly attractive Hooded Plover at an inland saltwater lake
  • Working out the differences between the impressive, but very alike Carnaby’s (or Short- billed) and Baudin’s (or Long-billed) Black-Cockatoos
  • Searching for the fabled Western Whipbird, a notorious skulker in the heathlands of the Stirling Range
  • Standing in awe at a posing Australian Owlet-nightjar, sunning itself at its nesthole in a dead tree
  • Sorting out a panoply of colourful psittacids like Regent, Red-capped and Elegant Parrot and Purple-crowned Lorikeet
  • Getting to know two of Australias most elusive birds (and two of the hardest endemic families) in the coastal heaths of the southwest: the vociferous Noisy Scrub-bird and the almost equally shy Western Bristlebird
  • Scanning the wild southern ocean for a selection of seabirds, which could include Shy, Black-browed and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Sooty Shearwater and Australasian Gannet
  • Finding the unusual Bare-eyed (or Western) Corella, while it feeds on its favourite grass roots
  • Heading inland into the outback to locate the smart-looking Copperback Quailthrush and the very attractive Western Quailthrush
  • Completing the list of southwest Australia's endemics!
  • Studying cute Rock Parrots along a scenic beach with Brown Noddies, Pacific Gulls and Bridled Terns about
  • Marvelling at Broome’s wader spectacle, which includes stunners like Oriental Plover, Little and Eastern Curlews, Great Knot, Broad-billed Sandpiper and Asian Dowitcher amongst the many more widespread species
  • Patrolling the mangroves for the localized Dusky Gerygone, together with Red-headed Honeyeater, striking Mangrove Golden and White-breasted Whistlers, Mangrove Fantail and Broad-billed Flycatcher
  • Driving with our well-equipped 4x4 vehicles into the wilds of the famously remote Kimberley region
  • Watching the stupendous Purple-crowned Fairy-wren in its very specific riverside vegetation
  • Waiting patiently at a particular puddle to observe the fantastic and much-wanted Gouldian Finch
  • Exploring a stretch of thorny spinifex bushes to add the sought-after, restrictred-range Black Grasswren to our tally
  • Finding Partridge Pigeon, White-quilled Rock-Pigeon, Kimberley Honeyeater and Silver-backed Butcherbird while exploring the remote Mitchell Plateau.
  • Scanning through flocks of Chestnut-breasted Manikins and Double-barred, Long-tailed, Masked, Crimson and Star Finches to locate the uncommon Yellow-rumped Mannikin and the rare Pictorella Mannikin
  • Taking a delightful boat trip on Lake Argyle looking out for the diminutive Yellow Chat, the cracking Spinifex Pigeon, Sandstone Shrikethrush and the adorable Short-eared Rock Wallaby
  • Waiting at a reed-edged lake for an Australasian Bittern and a selection of crakes
  • Visiting remote Christmas Island with its incredible Red and Blue Robber Crabs
  • Admiring Christmas Island’s amazing seabird spectacle
  • Studying the different, often rather confusing plumages of three species of frigatebirds at extremely close range
  • Observing the antics of rare, unusual-looking Abbott’s Boobies at their only breeding colony in the world
  • Enjoying the sight of fabulous Golden-morph White-tailed Tropicbirds and Red-tailed Tropicbirds showing off in front of their breeding cliffs
  • Getting to know Christmas Island’s endemic landbirds while roaming its forests: Christmas Island Imperial Pigeon, Christmas Island Goshawk, Christmas Island Swiftlet, Christmas Island White-eye and Christmas Island Boobook
  • Standing amongst thousands of breeding pale morph Red-footed Boobies


  • Day 1: Midday tour start at Perth airport, Western Australia. Flight to Christmas Island.
  • Days 2-3: Christmas Island.
  • Day 4: Christmas Island, then afternoon flight to Perth.
  • Day 5: Morning tour end/rendezvous with main tour arrivals.
  • Day 1: Morning tour start at Perth. Drive to Narrogin. Visit Dryandra.
  • Day 2: Dryandra, then drive to Stirling Range.
  • Day 3: Stirling Range and region.
  • Day 4: Stirling Range and region, then drive to Albany.
  • Days 5-6: Albany area.
  • Day 7: Albany area, then drive to Hyden.
  • Day 8: Drive to Kookynie.
  • Day 9: Drive to Carrabin.
  • Day 10: Drive to Lancelin.
  • Day 11: Lancelin, then drive to Perth airport. Flight to Broome.
  • Day 12: Broome area.
  • Day 13: Broome area, then drive to Mount Elizabeth Station.
  • Day 14: Drive to Drysdale River.
  • Day 15: Exploring the Kimberley at Mitchell Plateau. Overnight at Drysdale River.
  • Day 16: Kimberley, then drive to Kununurra.
  • Days 17-18: Kununurra area.
  • Day 19: Kununurra area, then to airport for morning tour end.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.


Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

Tipping is not customary in Australia.

We also include these flights: Perth-Broome and Perth-Christmas Island-Perth. The huge distance between Perth and Christmas island is reflected in the huge airfare!

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price (but 40% if you are only taking the Christmas Island section of the tour). Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)

2025: provisional £6190, $7940, €7220, AUD11990. Perth/Kununurra.
Christmas Island Pre-Tour Extension: £2060, $2640, €2400, AUD3990. Perth/Perth.

Single Supplement: 2025: £990, $1270, €1160, AUD1930.
Christmas Island Pre-Tour Extension: £300, $390, €360, AUD600.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in Australian Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.


Western Australia: Day 1  Our Western Australia birding tour begins in the morning at our Perth hotel in the capital of Western Australia.

First, we will visit Lake Monger, where we should find the uncommon Blue-billed Duck as well as Australasian Grebe, Great and Little Black Cormorants, Hardhead, Dusky Moorhen, Australasian Swamphen, Eurasian Coot, introduced Spotted and Laughing Doves, Rainbow Lorikeet (also introduced here), Singing Honeyeater, Australian Reed Warbler and Little Grassbird.

From Perth, we will head south through tall eucalypt forests and farmland to Narrogin for an overnight stay.

We will spend the afternoon at Dryandra State Forest. Dryandra is an attractive area of white-trunked wandoo gums, sheoaks and dryandra bushes where we can expect to see such specialities as Red-capped Parrot, the lovely little Elegant Parrot, Western Rosella, Rufous Treecreeper, the jewel-like Blue-breasted Fairy-wren and Western Yellow Robin. With persistence, we should also flush one or two Painted Button-quails. This is also a good area for observing the localized Square-tailed Kite, although we will need a modicum of luck to see this uncommon species either here or elsewhere in the southwest.

Other species we are likely to see at Dryandra include the impressive Wedge-tailed Eagle, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Southern Boobook, Varied Sittella, Striated Pardalote, Weebill, Inland Thornbill, Red Wattlebird, Yellow-plumed, Brown-headed and Brown Honeyeaters, Western Spinebill, Scarlet and Red-capped Robins, Jacky Winter, Grey Shrike-thrush, the beautiful Common Golden Whistler, Rufous Whistler, Grey Fantail, Restless Flycatcher, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Dusky Woodswallow, Grey Currawong and Australian Raven. Western Grey Kangaroos are common here and if we are fortunate we will come across the rare and endangered Numbat, a most appealing, ground-squirrel-like marsupial.

Western Australia: Day 2  We will spend the morning exploring Dryandra State Forest.

Afterwards, we will continue southwards to the Stirling Range for a two nights stay.

Along the way, we will be looking out for the lovely Regent Parrot, which favours roadside trees in this area. We will also stop at a lake where, unusually for this species, the smart Hooded Plover nests far from the sea, while other species likely at this lake or elsewhere on the journey include Hoary-headed Grebe, White-faced Heron, Black Swan, Australian Shelduck, Pacific Black and Maned (or Australian Wood) Ducks, Grey and Chestnut Teals, the strange Musk Duck, Brown Falcon, Nankeen (or Australian) Kestrel, Red-kneed Dotterel, White-headed Stilt, Red-necked Avocet, Silver Gull, Common Bronzewing, Crested Pigeon, Galah and Pallid Cuckoo, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Willie Wagtail, Magpie-lark, Australian Magpie, Grey Butcherbird and Black-faced Woodswallow.

Western Australia: Day 3  The Stirling Range possesses extensive areas of eucalypt woodland and heathland amongst the rugged hills and is a very scenic place. At this time of year, winter is ending in southwestern Australia and a magnificent array of spring flowers turn the entire southern coastal region into a vast wild garden.

One of the most difficult of Australian birds to see, as opposed to hear, is the Western Whipbird, but we will be doing our best to set eyes on this mega-skulker. Much easier is the huge Carnaby’s (or Short-billed) and Baudin’s (or Long-billed) Black-Cockatoos (which differ largely on bill shape, reflecting their different diets) and Western Thornbill. Here also we have a great stake-out for the extraordinary Australian Owlet-nightjar. With a bit of luck, we will also come across the rare Western Shrike-tit and the tricky Western Fieldwren.

We will visit a private block of mallee scrub to search for the impressive Malleefowl. We can be certain of seeing the huge incubation mounds, but the birds themselves take both patience and luck.

Widespread species we should encounter in this area include Little Eagle, Banded Lapwing, Brush Bronzewing, Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo, the huge Laughing Kookaburra, Splendid Fairywren (which lives up to its name), the diminutive Southern Emu-wren, White-browed Scrubwren, Western Gerygone, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, White-naped, New Holland and Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters, Welcome Swallow, Tree Martin, Australasian Pipit and Silvereye.

Western Australia: Day 4  After spending most of the day birding in the interior, we will travel to Albany on the south coast of Western Australia for a three nights stay.

Western Australia: Days 5-6  Founded in 1826, some two and a half years before the Swan River Colony (Perth) was established, Albany is Western Australia’s oldest settlement and the largest town on the south coast. It enjoys a rather Mediterranean-type climate with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Cheyne Beach and Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve lie to the east of Albany and these extensive areas of low, dense coastal heathland and grey granite outcrops, which will most likely be covered in wildflowers at the time of our visit, are home to two unique but elusive birds: Noisy Scrub-bird and Western Bristlebird. The Noisy Scrub-bird, which belongs to a family of just two species (the even-harder-to-see Rufous Scrub-bird occurring in eastern Australia), is known only from the Albany area and was thought to be extinct until rediscovered here during the latter half of the 20th century. With persistence, we should be rewarded with views of both of these skulking species.

Other specialities of the southwest include Western Wattlebird, the lovely little Red-winged Fairywren and the handsome Red-eared Firetail.

Additional species that we should find in the Albany region include Australian Pelican, Little Pied Cormorant, Pacific (or White-necked) Heron, Great Egret, Australian White and Straw-necked Ibises, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Swamp Harrier, Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers, the huge-billed Pacific Gull, Caspian Tern and White-cheeked Honeyeater. Sea-watching here or elsewhere on the south coast can be productive, especially if the wind is onshore, and we may well be able to watch Shy, Black-browed and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Sooty Shearwater, Australasian Gannet and Greater Crested Tern.

On one day we will head west to the Pemberton area. En route, we will pass through forests of towering Karri trees with white, grey and salmon-tinted trunks and meadows carpeted in spring wildflowers for which southwestern Australia is famous. We will spend some time in the Lake Muir area, where we should easily find Bare-eyed (or Western) Corella, another uncommon southwestern Australian endemic. Not far from Pemberton we will visit a reliable site for our final southwestern endemic, White-breasted Robin.

Western Australia: Day 7  After some final birding in the Albany region we head northwards to Hyden for an overnight stay. We may have time for a visit to Wave Rock, a striking geological formation close to Hyden that looks like a curling wave.

Western Australia: Day 8  Early this morning we will look for Copperback Quailthrush, as well as Gilbert’s Whistler, in the arid country around McDermid Rock.

Afterwards, we will continue northeastwards to Kookynie, situated to the north of the famous gold-mining city of Kalgoorlie, for an overnight stay. In the Kookynie region, we will be looking for the attractive Western Quailthrush.

Western Australia: Day 9  We will have a further opportunity for birding in the Kookynie region this morning before we head southwestwards to Carrabin, situated in the vast ‘wheat belt’ of Western Australia, for an overnight stay.

Western Australia: Day 10  Today we reach the Indian Ocean coast at the small seaside resort of Lancelin, where we will spend the night. Rock Parrots nest on nearby Lancelin Island and fly over to the mainland to feed, making this a highly reliable site for this sometimes tricky species. Bridled Tern and Brown Noddy can also be found along this stretch of the coast.

Western Australia: Day 11  We may have another opportunity to look for parrots early this morning before we return to Perth and take a midday flight northeastwards to Broome for a two nights stay. This afternoon we will begin our exploration of the Broome area.

Western Australia: Day 12  Broome, situated on the northern coast of Western Australia, is a thriving tropical centre and was once the home of the largest pearling-lugger fleet in the world. Broome is ornithologically most famous for its extraordinary concentrations of Palearctic-breeding shorebirds that spend the austral summer here, but an undistinguished little bird has also lured us to this part of the northwestern Australian coast, and that is the endemic Dusky Gerygone. To find our quarry we shall visit the extensive mangrove stands of the Broome area, where additional mangrove specialities include the gorgeous Red-headed Honeyeater, the striking Mangrove Golden and White-breasted Whistlers, Mangrove Fantail and Broad-billed Flycatcher.

We shall also spend some time around the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union’s Bird Observatory on Roebuck Bay, which is an outstanding area for birds. This is a wonderful time of year for migratory waders on the extensive tidal mudflats at Roebuck Bay and huge numbers will be busily feeding on the mudflats. As well as thousands of Great Knot, we should find numerous other shorebirds including Grey (or Black-bellied), Pacific Golden, Mongolian, Greater Sand, Red-capped Plovers, Ruddy Turnstone, Eastern Curlew, Eurasian Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit (of the eastern form, sometimes split as Eastern Black-tailed Godwit), Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey-tailed Tattler, Common Greenshank, Red Knot, Red-necked Stint, and Common, Terek, Curlew and Broad-billed Sandpipers. We also have a good chance of spotting some Asian Dowitchers.

Other species we should see at Broome, either along the coastline itself or in areas of tropical woodland and dry grassland, include Brown Booby, Little and Pacific (or Eastern) Reef Egrets, Striated Heron, Rufous (or Nankeen) Night Heron, Royal Spoonbill, Plumed Whistling-Duck, Osprey, Black and Brahminy Kites, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Masked Lapwing, Gull-billed, Common, Little and Lesser Crested Terns, Peaceful and Bar-shouldered Doves, Red-winged Parrot, Tawny Frogmouth, Sacred Kingfisher, the lovely Rainbow Bee-eater, Mangrove Gerygone (rather surprisingly, not often residing in mangroves around Broome!), Little Friarbird, the impressive Great Bowerbird, Pied Butcherbird and Torresian Crow.

Western Australia: Day 13  After some final birding around Broome we will drive to Derby and then start out on the famous Gibb River Road into the Kimberley. We will spend the night at Mount Elizabeth Station.

Western Australia: Day 14  We will continue deeper into the Kimberley, to the Drysdale River, for a two nights stay.

Travelling through this spectacularly scenic region, one of the wildest and most celebrated upland areas in Australia, is an experience all of its own. We will make some stops today for the very attractive but rare and endangered (through overgrazing by livestock) Purple-crowned Fairy-wren and for the splendid Gouldian Finch. The latter is a rare and nomadic species, so we will probably have to check plenty of roadside finch flocks in order to have a good chance of finding our prize.

Western Australia: Day 15  We will set off very early this morning and drive to the start of the trail to Mitchell Falls on the remote Mitchell Plateau. Our target here is the elusive Black Grasswren, which likes to play hide and seek with visiting birders amongst the much-eroded limestone terrain, interspersed with thorny spinifex bushes. We will hope to spot this stunning little bird from the trail, but if not those who are willing can try to penetrate further into this difficult habitat. We have a good chance of seeing this most sought-after of all the grasswrens, but we cannot be sure of success.

We will also be looking out for the yellow-faced form of the Partridge Pigeon (restricted to the Kimberley, and a potential split), White-quilled Rock-Pigeon (endemic to northwestern Australia), Variegated Fairy-wren, Kimberley Honeyeater (a Kimberley endemic), Bar-breasted Honeyeater, Leaden Flycatcher and Silver-backed Butcherbird.

Western Australia: Day 16  After some final birding in the Kimberley we will continue eastwards to Kununurra for a three nights stay. Kununurra is situated not far from the border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Western Australia: Days 17-18  Situated in the heart of the Ord River irrigation district, the Kununurra region possesses a rich abundance of birdlife and some wonderful specialities. A drive through the agricultural research station fields will provide us with an opportunity to observe a staggering array of birds. Huge numbers of Magpie Geese feed along the edges of the irrigation channels, while Brolgas, large flocks of Little Corellas and Australian Pratincoles feed amongst the stubble fields and flocks of finches infest the seeding grasses. Chestnut-breasted Manikins, and Double-barred, Long-tailed, Masked, Crimson and Star Finches generally make up the flocks, but the localized Yellow-rumped Mannikin can regularly be found amongst them.

Out in the dry bush country, we have a good chance of finding the rare Pictorella Mannikin, as well as the enormous Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo.

As we take a morning boat trip on Lake Argyle, we will watch Pied Cormorants perching on drowned trees and Comb-crested Jacanas striding across the lily pads. The reed-fringed edges of the lake sometimes harbour Baillon’s and White-browed Crakes, while rocky areas are home to Sandstone Shrike-thrush and Short-eared Rock Wallaby. We will stop to explore a grassy island where we shall be looking out in particular for one of Australia’s rarest birds, Yellow Chat, which is often present in good numbers. The muddy margins of the island often hold Long-toed Stint, and both Wood and Marsh Sandpipers, while the shorter areas of grass are favoured by the elegant and much sought-after Oriental Plover and the equally interesting Little Curlew.

Amongst the many other waterbirds, we should see at Lake Argyle are Australasian Darter, the handsome Pied Heron, Intermediate Egret, Glossy Ibis, the impressive Black-necked Stork, Wandering Whistling-Duck, Radjah Shelduck, the lovely Green Pygmy-goose and Whiskered Tern.

Lake Argyle is also one of the best localities in Australia to observe the stunningly plumaged Spinifex Pigeon, so we should enjoy great views of these cryptically-coloured, plump little birds which emerge from the spinifex-covered hills to look for scraps of food around camping areas and the like.

Additional species likely around Kununurra include Black-shouldered Kite (a different species from the Black-winged Kite of the Old World), Whistling Kite, the handsome Spotted Harrier, Collared Sparrowhawk, Black Falcon, Australian Hobby, Bush Thick-knee, Black-fronted Plover, Brush Cuckoo, Pheasant Coucal, the huge Blue-winged Kookaburra, Dollarbird, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Silver-crowned Friarbird, Blue-faced, White-gaped, Yellow-tinted, White-throated and Rufous-throated Honeyeaters, Yellow-throated Miner, Northern Fantail, Paperbark Flycatcher, Grey-crowned Babbler, Olive-backed and Yellow Orioles, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, White-winged Triller, White-breasted Woodswallow, Horsfield’s Bushlark, Fairy Martin, Golden-headed Cisticola, Zebra Finch and Mistletoebird.

Western Australia: Day 19  After some final birding around Kununurra, our Western Australia birding tour ends this morning at the airport.



Christmas Island: Day 1  Our Christmas Island birding tour extension will begin around midday at Perth airport, from where we will take an afternoon flight to Christmas Island, an Australian territory situated about 300 km south of the western end of Java and over 2700 km north-northwest of Perth, for a three nights stay. Our hotel is pleasantly situated along the island’s coastline. We may arrive in time for some initial exploration.

Christmas Island: Days 2-3  Christmas Island is the emergent summit of an underwater mountain, rising 1180ft (360m) above the Indian Ocean in a series of steep cliffs and wave-cut terraces to a central plateau. It is an isolated oceanic island, where the birds are few but incredibly tame. The island is covered in a dense rainforest where ferns, orchids and vines flourish in the humid atmosphere beneath the canopy of giant trees up to 160ft (50m) high.

The superstructure of the island is limestone and millions of years ago phosphate was deposited between the limestone pinnacles resulting in valuable commercial deposits of calcium phosphate. Mining started in the 1880s and resulted in the felling of about 30% of the rainforest. The exploitation of the phosphate has now almost stopped and almost two-thirds of the 52 square miles (135 square kilometres) island is protected area.

Christmas Island is known worldwide as being the only breeding haunt for two species of seabirds: Abbott’s Booby and Christmas Island Frigatebird. The Abbott’s Booby, the rarest of the nine species of gannets and boobies, used to be more widespread in the Indian Ocean but is now restricted as a breeding species to Christmas Island and numbers about 3000 pairs. It requires tall rainforest trees for nesting and it certainly is a weird experience to find a truly pelagic seabird sitting on its nest 100ft (30m) or more high in the middle of the rainforest! Even more strange is the decidedly prehistoric appearance of Abbott’s Booby, which has a flight silhouette and wing action very unlike that of other boobies. The Christmas Island Frigatebird, which breeds only here but wanders more widely, is the rarest of the five species of frigatebirds and the population numbers about 1600 pairs. They nest in three separate colonies in the northern part of the island. We should be able to witness the impressive courtship with males inflating their scarlet gular pouches and emitting crazy whistles trying to attract seemingly uninterested females.

The remarkable Golden Tropicbirds of Christmas Island have a beautiful deep golden hue rather than pure white plumage and are called ‘Golden Bosunbirds’ by the locals. Some people consider this unique endemic form fulvus (which likely represents a distinct endemic species, rather than a race or morph of White-tailed Tropicbird) to be the most attractive seabird in the world. They are marvellously common and often perform their spectacular display flights over the settlement. Smaller numbers of immaculate Red-tailed Tropicbirds breed in the same area.

Red-footed Boobies (white phase birds only) perch low in trees and bushes, whilst Brown Boobies prefer the open areas near the shore. Both Boobies are often harassed by Great Frigatebirds trying to steal their fish. A few Lesser Frigatebirds also breed on the island, so this is a great spot to study the very complex plumages of the three species. The only other seabird that breeds on the island is the Brown Noddy.

Christmas Island also harbours four endemic landbirds and a number of endemic races of more widespread species. The cooing of the endemic Christmas Island Imperial Pigeon can be heard all over, as this substantial purple-grey bird is still a regular sight in the rainforest. Easily the most commonly encountered bird is the endemic Christmas Island White-eye. Small flocks of these unobtrusively-coloured birds roam the forest and the gardens. At night we will search for the endemic Christmas Island Boobook (or Christmas Island Hawk-Owl), which is surprisingly common. Good numbers of Christmas Island Swiftlets Swiftlets hawk over the forest. In addition, the widespread Island Thrush is represented here by a beautiful orange-flanked race that, most unusually, occurs at sea level. This form may well represent a distinct species; Christmas Island Thrush.

Emerald Doves (or Green-winged Pigeons) rummage in the woodland leaf litter. The Nankeen (or Australian) Kestrel colonized the island in the 1940s and is regularly observed hovering over the more open areas, where White-faced Herons can also be encountered, while Christmas Island Goshawks favour forest edges. (The latter is now often treated as a full species rather than being lumped with Variable Goshawk or, more bizarrely, with Brown Goshawk.)

Along the shoreline, we should find foraging Pacific Reef Egrets and maybe a migrant Eurasian Whimbrel or Ruddy Turnstone. Since the 1980s Eurasian Tree Sparrows have established themselves in the village and small numbers of introduced Java Sparrows favour chicken coops and fallow ground. White-breasted Waterhens are the most recent colonists on the island.

Huge Large Flying Foxes ravage the fruiting trees, but the most famous inhabitants of Christmas Island are the crabs. Incredible numbers of Red Crabs inhabit the forest floor and in the early wet season (later in the year than we visit) a staggering 120 million of these dinner plate-sized creatures migrate from the plateau to the ocean in preparation for the mating season. Huge blue-coloured Robber Crabs (weighing up to several pounds each) can sometimes be found eating fruits high in palm trees and eleven more species of crab make a living here.

Christmas Island: Day 4  After some final birding on Christmas Island we will take a flight back to Perth on the Australian mainland, where we will overnight.

Christmas Island: Day 5  Our Christmas Island birding tour extension ends this morning at our Perth hotel, and our Western Australia tour starts.


by Hannu Jännes

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Other Australia and New Zealand birding tours by Birdquest include: