Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Purple-crowned Fairy-wren

If you want to see Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens, then you will have to make a trip to the Top End. You will have a choice of seeing two races, either the nominate race Malurus coronatus coronatus in which case you will need to visit the Kimberley or far north west NT, or to see Malurus coronatus macgillivrayi you will have to visit the Gulf Country in either NT or far NW Queensland. Further, you will need to look in pandanus/paperbark vegetation along creeks and rivers, the preferred habitat of this Top End endemic fairy-wren.

From my experience there are two sure places to find the species - in the Kimberley at Mornington, the AWC sanctuary off the Gibb River Road in WA, or at Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) NP in Queensland and nearby Adels Grove. However, males in breeding plumage will be hard to find outside of the breeding season in June and July

Male Purple-crowned Fairy-wren in breeding plumage.

Looking down from the lookout above Lawn Hill Gorge on good Purple-crowned Fairy-wren habitat fringing Lawn Hill Creek.
Dense pandanus with paperbarks – ideal habitat along Lawn Hill Creek.

Female Purple-crowned Fairy-wren.
A male and female pair of Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens.
The National Park and adjoining area is rich in bird species, however Adels Grove from my experience is the best place to both stay or camp as you will most likely find more species at Adels Grove than in the NP. Also, Adels Grove has good facilities and offers guided bird walks and tours. Of course visits to nearby Boodjamulla NP are highly recommended.

Other species photographed at Adels Grove.

The Grey-crowned Babbler is the only one of the four species of babbler to be found in the Top End. Like other babbler species they are highly social birds which live in extended family groups. Sometimes they are elusive and flee as you approach and sometimes they can be inquisitive.

A Long-tailed Finch at water for a drink.

Long-tails are endemic to the Top End where they are common. This one with a red bill is the NT/Qld race – the WA birds have a yellow bill.

Two Long-tailed Finches in for a late afternoon drink at a creek near Adels Grove.

Northern Fantail at Adels Grove.
(Grey Fantails were also present though they were less common)
Darter on the creek at Adels Grove. Darters are common on waterways and wetlands in the Top End.
A long shot of a Varied Lorikeet high in a dead tree.
It hung in this positions for 10 minutes or more. I think it was looking to go to a nest hollow but was too wary to make the move – not due to my presence I might add as I was a long way off.

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