HomeFoodIssues To Do In Kakadu—birdwatching with Luke PatersonMr and Mrs Romance

Issues To Do In Kakadu—birdwatching with Luke PatersonMr and Mrs Romance

House to over 290 species of birds—that’s over a 3rd of Australia’s species, Kakadu Nationwide Park is a birdwatcher’s dream. However if you’re right here with Luke Paterson, famend ‘hawkeye’ of the character tourism trade, the dial turns as much as max.

Birdwatching in Kakadu - Mamukala Wetlands with Luke Paterson

The large Land Cruiser rolls down the lodge driveway. The solar isn’t up but, and because the automobile’s headlights flicker by means of the bushes, catching the early birds in its highlight. For a second, it highlights the singers of a loud daybreak refrain that’s barely previous its first verse.

Even right here, outdoors the weird frontage of the Crocodile Lodge in Jabiru, the world is wealthy in birdlife.

The motive force’s door of the four-wheel-drive opens. From below the rim of a battered Akubra, the shining eyes and boyish smile of Luke Paterson greet us and welcome us aboard.

Take a look at our video of our tour with Luke round Kakadu Nationwide Park right here:

Christina and I are fortunate to be within the NT for Kakadu Hen Week—eight days in late September that remember the unbelievable wealth of birds right here. It coincides with the approaching of the Bamarru—the mass migration of magpie geese that fill the depleted waterways of Kakadu in the direction of the tip of the Dry Season.

As we make the 20-minute drive to our first spot—Mamukala Wetlands, Luke chats to us in regards to the NT and Kakadu, about birds, and a bit about his background.

From tenting journeys as a boy rising up in regional Victoria to working as warden of the Broome Hen Observatory WA to lastly transferring to Darwin and beginning his personal nature excursions firm NT Hen Specialists, Luke has at all times immersed himself in nature.

Birdwatching in Kakadu - Mamukala Wetlands with Luke Paterson

Luke’s private accolades for wildlife tourism and his multi-award-winning firm communicate of an illustrious profession. And his title within the birding world brings ubiquitous nods of approval.

His is a uncommon and enviable mixture of expertise and fervour, coupled to a humble outlook that means that you can chill out in his firm and ask any query. We don’t carry up his ‘Hawkeye’ moniker although. And I in some way resist the temptation to level out how a lot he seems like Paul Rudd.

He does although, proper?

However Luke’s openness and straightforward snort, the generosity with which he shares his profound data and his normal enthusiasm does him credit score. He has an uncanny potential of placing you relaxed.

Birdwatching in Kakadu - Mamukala Wetlands with Luke Paterson - Luke, Christina and Jim

Birding With Luke Paterson

We arrive at Mamukala Wetlands and troop by means of the greying daybreak mild to the sting of the receding water.

As we stroll, a sound like an unlimited swarm of bees fills the air. We realise it’s not the drone of bugs, however the reverberating honk of hundreds upon hundreds of magpie geese.

This mass migration is considered one of nature’s true spectacles. It appears like we’re watching one thing by Attenborough. The air is thick with these nice birds as they arrive in strings and arrows by the dozen.

Birdwatching in Kakadu - Mamukala Wetlands with Luke Paterson - magpie geeseBirdwatching in Kakadu - Mamukala Wetlands with Luke Paterson - monocular

Nevertheless it’s not till we glance by means of Luke’s spectacular monoscope that we get a real scale of the scene.

Geese fill the 20km² of water. On the close to shoreline, we see herds of geese grazing. However then we gaze 10 metres additional. And one other 10 and one other.

Quickly our focus attracts out to the horizon till the morning mists and the shimmer of the day’s coming warmth, along with geese too distant and lots of to see, flip the view right into a homogenous transferring mass.

Birdwatching in Kakadu - Mamukala Wetlands with Luke Paterson - magpie goose migration Birdwatching in Kakadu - Mamukala Wetlands with Luke Paterson - magpie goose migration

However then, blended in with the geese, Luke factors out different birds. Comb-crested jacanas, black necked storks, radjah shelducks, grebes, cormorants, sandpipers… the sheer quantity of life right here is overwhelming.

We glance over at Luke, whose face is alight with pleasure. He’s in all probability been right here and seen this one million occasions, but it surely’s like that is his first.

Mamukala Hen Disguise

Quickly, it’s time to maneuver on and we trek to the chook conceal. We peep out over the water on the birds from a unique approach and far nearer than we have been earlier than.

Birdwatching in Kakadu - Mamukala Wetlands with Luke Paterson- bird hide

The spectacle of the migrating geese remains to be placing, but it surely creates a backdrop to the opposite waterfowl right here relatively than being the primary occasion.

Round 30m lengthy and timber decked, the conceal is a snug solution to see the native wildlife up shut. Additionally, the trail as much as the conceal connects to the carpark, making this a part of the wetlands very accessible.

Away From The Water

After a while within the conceal, we take a stroll again by means of the thick bushes and bushes of the wetlands space. Away from the water’s edge, the panorama attracts a very completely different sort of birdlife.

Diamond doves, tawny frogmouths, a pheasant coucal, and a bunch of finches, honeyeaters and flycatchers—even the odd agile wallaby—make their presence recognized. Although, with out Luke with us, there’s no probability we’d know what we’re .

Birdwatching in Kakadu - Mamukala Wetlands with Luke Paterson - photographing an agile wallaby

Birdwatching in Kakadu - Mamukala Wetlands with Luke Paterson -Rainbow Bee Eater

Rainbow Bee-Eater

On the identical time, by the tip the stroll, we get again into the automobile feeling far too assured that we are able to establish so many extra birds now because of Luke sharing his data.

In fact, it’s a confidence that’s considerably unfounded and we shortly realise much more apply is required. However Luke’s infectious enthusiasm spurs us.


A brief drive up the highway leads us to a picnic website subsequent to the banks of the East Alligator River, the primary waterway that runs by means of Kakadu from the Van Diemen Gulf.

Luke spreads a tablecloth out over the picnic bench, the place we sit and luxuriate in breakfast of fruit, pastries and low collectively. However that’s not the tip of the bird-spotting.

Birdwatching in Kakadu - Mamukala Wetlands with Luke Paterson - lunch and birding

We see a whistling kite above us, a standard chook of prey in Kakadu, however nonetheless charming. Greater within the sky a white bellied sea eagle soars, and even the tree by our desk has a bunch of small birds dwelling in it.

Because the clock strikes 10am, the warmth of the day is now upon us. We climb again into Luke’s 4×4, glad of the air con.

We arrive again at our lodge feeling invigorated, which is stunning contemplating the time we have been up. We are saying our farewells to Luke and, as we chill out in our room, we mirror that point appeared to vanish with him. We have been out with Luke for 5 hours, but it surely had felt extra like 5 minutes.

Let’s hope we’ve got the prospect of birding with him once more.

The following time you’re within the Northern Territory, remember to guide a birding tour with Luke Paterson at NT Hen Specialists. It’s an expertise you’ll always remember.

Hen Species Noticed at Mamukala Wetlands and picnic spot subsequent to East Alligator River

Magpie GooseStraw-Necked IbisWhite-Throated Gerygone
Inexperienced Pygmy-GooseWhite-Headed StiltWhite-Gaped Honeyeater
Radjah ShelduckRoyal SpoonbillBar-Breasted Honeyeater 
Plumed Whistling-DuckWhistling KiteRufous-Banded Honeyeater
Wandering Whistling-DuckWhite-Bellied Sea EagleDusky Myzomela (Honeyeater)
Pacific Black DuckPurple SwamphenCrimson-Headed Myzomela
Australasian GrebeMasked LapwingWhite-Throated Honeyeater
Diamond DoveComb-Crested JacanaWhite-Bellied Cuckoo-Shrike
Peaceable DoveMarsh SandpiperDiversified Triller
Bar-Shouldered DoveSharp-Tailed SandpiperRufous Whistler
Tawny FrogmouthAustralian PratincoleInexperienced (Yellow) Oriole 
Little Pied CormorantAustralian TernWillie Wagtail
Little Black CormorantWhiskered TernTorresian Crow
Black Necked Stork (Jabiru)Little CorellaMagpie Lark
Cattle EgretSulphur-Crested CockatooPaperbark Flycatcher
Intermediate (Plumed) EgretCrimson-Collared (Rainbow) LorikeetLemon-Bellied Flycatcher
Nice EgretPheasant CoucalDouble-Barred Finch
White-Necked HeronLittle Bronze-CuckooLengthy-Tailed Finch
Pied HeronBlue-Winged KookaburraMasked Finch
Nankeen Evening HeronForest KingfisherCrimson Finch
Australian White IbisRainbow Bee-Eater
Shiny IbisCrimson-Backed Fairy-Wren
These are the 64 chook species we noticed and heard whereas we have been out with Luke – 3/10/23

Birdwatching in Kakadu - Mamukala Wetlands with Luke Paterson - Jim and Christina

We visited Kakadu and travelled with Luke Paterson as media visitors of Kakadu Tourism, NT Tourism and NT Hen Specialists, however our experiences and opinions stay our personal.

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