Marlgu Billabong and the scientists secret finch spot near Wyndham

For the next 4 nights, we stayed at Parry’s Creek Farm, a birdy spot on a Billabong just outside Wyndham to be near the Parry’s Creek Nature Reserve. The farm was very dry and there wasn’t much of a billabong after so many poor wet seasons in a row. It was still however very birdy, just no new ones at camp.   M

parrys creek farm walkway
The elevated walkway at Parry’s Creek Farm.  It was terribly dry and the billabong was almost empty, but we could see that this must be an incredibly beautiful place during years with normal or above average rainfall.
banded honeyeater
Banded Honey-eater at Parry’s Creek Farm

We had heard that the area was a Gouldian finch hangout and after I specifically asked about finches in the area was told about a secret spot where the scientists go to count them. I was given vague directions and told not to tell anyone else. Steve and I then went out to look for the spot while there was light with plans to return at dawn.   M

finches and honeyeater
Although we saw no new species at the secret spot that evening, it was certainly a birdwatching hot spot.   Crimson, Double-barred and Long-tailed finches in the same dead tree with a photo-bombing brown honey-eater
purple crowned fairy wren female
I also spotted this female purple-crowned fairy wren and although not a great photo, I got a much better view than we had of the male at Victoria River.
cockatoo sunset
These red-tailed black cockatoos were admiring the sunset.   Looking at the photos below, you can see why.

wyndham boabsboab sunset 2boabs at sunset 2

When we returned at dawn a couple of days later we were in for a real treat.   Finches galore, not to mention all the other birds.   While we had previously had a brief encounter with a single gouldian finch about three weeks earlier at the Caranbarini waterhole, we now saw dozens of them, both black faced and red faced as well as plenty of juveniles.    I also got to see three new species of bird.   S

gouldian finches 2
Red faced, black faced and two juvenile Gouldian Finches
gouldian finches
A peaceful dove came down to look at the finches too.
painted and longtailed finches
A moment later, long tailed and star finches came down.  The peaceful dove obviously didn’t find these birds so interesting
pictorella mannikin
Some pictorella mannikins came down to drink too.   This time a juvenile masked finch looks on.
masked gouldian and nin
More gouldian finches further up the waterhole, together with masked finches
Red winged Parrots
Red-winged Parrots.  When they flew down, the finches gave them a wide berth.
brown quail
Normally one sees quails bursting out of the grass nearby then flying off into the distance before dropping back into the grass out of sight.   So it was great to get some good shots of them drinking and identify them as brown quail.
long tailed finches
Long-tailed Finches
yellow white eye
A yellow white-eye
straw necked ibis 3
Straw-necked Ibis
zebra nin and masked finch
Zebra finches with the orange beaks, Double-barred finch and masked finch
rainbow beeeater
Rainbow Bee-eater
finches and budgie
Six bird species in one photo.   From left:  Long-tailed finch, double-barred finch, juvenile gouldian finch, budgie, masked finch, star finch, then another long-tail, double-barred and star finch.
Striated Pardalote 4
Striated Pardelote
golden headed cisticola 3
Golden-headed Cisticola 
steve at the secret finch spot
All of the photos above were taken from this one spot next to a rather sad looking waterhole

While in the area we also visited the Marlgu Lagoon about 10km north of Parry’s Creek Farm.   This beautiful area was listed as a Ramsar Wetland in 1990 and is rich in water water-birds.  It reminded us of the Yellow-waters area of Kakadu National Park, but without the buzz of tourist and fishing boats.   S

marlgu lagoon view
Marlgu Lagoon seen from the nearby telegraph hill.
bird watching
Looking out on Marlgu Lagoon from the bird hide.   Since getting a decent pair of binoculars in Katherine, Maddy is starting to become a bit of a bird watcher too.
bird hide
Marlgu Lagoon Bird Hide
marglu ducks
Magpie Geese, Intermediate Egret, Pacific Heron and yes the boring southern black ducks are there too.
laundry bird
Darter.  Not sure why it bothers drying its wings as it was about to go fishing.

darter 1

straw necked ibis 2
Straw-necked Ibis
As the morning warmed up, the temptation to swim was quickly dampened.   This was our first sighting of a saltwater crocodile on this trip, but while barramundi fishing on the following day we saw many more.
mirrored flycatcher
Restless Flycatcher


rajah shelducks
Rajah Shelduck – seen on our second visit to the Marlgu Lagoon bird hide in the afternoon
pukeko proud of its glob
An Australasian Swamphen – aka Pukeko in New Zealand.   It proudly carried this lump of mud around for about 20 minutes – who knows why.
There were cockatiels by the tree full in the areas around Marlgu Lagoon
masked woodswallow
Masked Woodswallow
collared sparrowhawk
A young collared sparrow-hawk

sunset over marlgu billabong

kapok for entre
It was getting late and Maddy’s appetite was growing – a kapok flower is well known bush food and seems to make a nice entree.   It is said to taste like “yellow flower”.
tawny frogmouth
Tawny Frogmouth on the road back to our camp at Parry’s Creek Farm
breakfast at marlgu lagoon cafe
On the morning of our final visit to Marlgu Lagoon we took Keddie along so we could enjoy a breakfast with a view.
Australasian Grebe 3
Australasian fluffball
white bellied sea eagle
White-bellied Sea-eagle

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Juvenile rufous throated honey-eater

marlgu swans
Final views of the Marlgu Lagoon with black swans, magpie geese and eurasian coot and hardhead in the front.

marlgu lilymarlgu lily 2



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