The Honeyeaters of Mallacoota

The Honeyeaters of Mallacoota
Mallacoota in far East Gippsland is Victoria’s most diverse region for plants, especially flowering plants. Where there are flowers, there are honeyeater birds: a group of noisy, colourful Australian birds adapted to feeding on flower nectar.

In the Mallacoota region it is possible to see 21 species of honeyeater.

Most of the common Victorian species are here: Red & Little Wattlebird, Eastern Spinebill, New Holland & Yellow-faced Honeyeater; but there are also special ones: Tawny-crowned, Crescent, Lewin’s Honeyeater; some are summer visitors: Scarlet Honeyeater; and some are real rarities from NSW and Qld: Noisy and Little Friarbird, White-cheeked Honeyeater.

The Mallacoota region has hills and mountains, coast and heathlands, estuaries and rivers, rainforests and dry woodland, each home to a different group of honeyeater birds.

Here’s a list and description of all the honeyeaters recorded in recent years around Mallacoota.

Eastern Spinebill   Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris

Eastern Spinebill Honeyeater

Description: small, colourful honeyeater with long curved beak.  

Where to see: Can be seen almost anywhere in Mallacoota region where native trees or shrubs or garden plants are flowering.

Red Wattlebird Anthochaera carunculata

Red Wattlebird Birds of East Gippsland
By Mick Stephenson mixpix 00:54, 1 November 2007 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Description: Large, streaky grey honeyeater with yellow patch on belly. Very noisy.

Where to see: can be seen almost everywhere in Mallacoota including gardens, all year round

Little Wattlebird Anthochaera chrysoptera

Little Wattlebird in Coast Banksia Mallacoota

Description: Similar to Red Wattlebird but lacks yellow patch. Very noisy.

Where to see: Mostly near the coast, all around the region.

White-fronted Chat Epthianura albifrons


Description: a small black and white bird that is most often seen on or near the ground in open areas. Chats are considered honeyeaters, but they are quite different to the rest of the group, both in shape and habits.

Where to see: Not common, best chance is near the coast in open areas – Bastion Point, Mallacoota airport.

Tawny-crowned Honeyeater Gliciphila melanops

Tawny-crowned Honeyeater
By Francesco Veronesi from Italy [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Description: an elegant brown, tan and white honeyeater with curved long beak. They are not easy to see, they often stay low and quiet in thick heath.

The Mallacoota region is one of the best places to see this bird in all of Australia.

Where to see: Mostly along the coast in heathlands south of Mallacoota – Shipwreck Ck, Mallacoota airport.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater Lichenostomus chrysops

Croajingolong Yellow-faced Honeyeater

Description: A small green-olive honeyeater with yellow patch on face.

Where to see: Almost everywhere around Mallacoota region in forests and gardens. Possibly the most common small honeyeater in region.

Fuscous Honeyeater Lichenostomus fuscus

Fuscous Honeyeaters
By Aviceda (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Description: a small, yellow-olive honeyeater a bit like the Yellow-faced but lacking the large yellow patch.

Where to see: Not often seen in region, they seem to prefer drier forests. One reported on north side of Inlet in 2013, another found north of Wangarabell in 2012, another in Mallacoota in 2010 (source: Birdata)

White-eared Honeyeater Lichenostomus leucotis

Mallacoota honeyeater

Description: Medium-sized dark green and black honeyeater with white patch on face

Where to see: in forests – Wallagaraugh, Mallacoota (Shady Gully, Casuarina Walk), Genoa Falls.

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops

By Lip Kee from Singapore, Republic of Singapore (Yellow-tufted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Description: a beautiful yellow and black, medium-sized honeyeater with dramatic facial markings.

Where to see: in forests, mostly in the hills – Wangarabell, Genoa Falls, Maramingo.

White-plumed Honeyeater Lichenostomus penicillatus


Description: a small green-yellow honeyeater with a white plume on cheek.

Where to see: Not often seen this far east, more a bird of western Victoria, but some recent records at Genoa Peak and Shipwreck Ck.

Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala

Noisy Miner
By Mike Prince from Bangalore, India (Noisy Miner) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Description: a medium-sized miner, grey with yellow and black markings around the face. Miners are a group within the honeyeaters – they are chunky-bodied, have bare skin behind their eyes and quite short beaks. They are not related to the introduced Common (Indian) Myna, though they look a bit similar.

Where to see: Occasionally recorded in Mallacoota town area.

Bell Miner (Bellbird) Manorina melanophrys

Bellbird Mallacoota

Description: a small miner, green-olive with red patch behind eye and bright gold beak. Their bell-like call is well-known and much loved.

Where to see: Common, heard in almost every rainforest or wet forest. They can be hard to see at first, simply because they are hidden in thick foliage, but with patience you can usually see one. 

Lewin’s Honeyeater Meliphaga lewinii

Lewin's Honeyeater East Gippsland

Description: a beautiful, medium-sized green-olive honeyeater with yellow crescent on the cheek. Their call is very distinctive – a bit like a machine gun.

Where to see: Common, often in slightly wetter forests but also along the coast.

Brown-headed Honeyeater Melithreptus brevirostris


Description: a small brown, olive and white honeyeater.

Where to see: Scattered records throughout region, often in dry forests, high in canopy.

White-naped Honeyeater Melithreptus lunatus

White-naped Honeyeater Mallacoota region

Description: small, green and white honeyeater with a black head and a red eyebrow.

Where to see: Common in most forest types – usually seen high in canopy.

Scarlet Honeyeater Myzomela sanguinolenta

Scarlet Honeyeater East Gippsland bird

Description: a small red, black and white honeyeater with a curved beak.

This bird is one of the reasons birdwatchers come to Mallacoota – these tiny birds fly down from the north in Spring and East Gippsland is their first stop in Victoria. Sometimes they spread throughout the state (as they are doing this year – 2017), but Mallacoota is always a reliable site to see Scarlet Honeyeaters in Spring and Summer.

Where to see: They are usually seen along the coastal forests – Shipwreck Ck, Betka Beach, Heathland Walk – but also up Genoa and Wallagaraugh Rivers at Gipsy Point, Wallagaraugh.

Little Friarbird Philemon citreogularis

Little Friarbird, Honeyeaters of Mallacoota
By Vicki Nunn (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Description: a medium-sized light grey friarbird with blue skin around face. Friarbirds are a group among the honeyeaters that are large, noisy and usually have bare, unfeathered heads – the Little Friarbird doesn’t have a totally bare head, but does have a lot of bare skin.

Where to see: one seen in 2014 at Gipsy Point (source: eBird)

Noisy Friarbird Philemon corniculatus


Description: a large light grey friarbird with a bare black head like a tiny vulture.

Where to see: Not common, but several recent sightings from Karbeethong, Gipsy Point, Mallacoota, Wallagaraugh

White-cheeked Honeyeater Phylidonyris nigra


Description: a medium-sized black, white and yellow honeyeater, very similar to the common New Holland Honeyeater, but does not have the white eye.

Where to see: This bird is mostly found in NSW and Qld, but there are two records from Cape Howe Wilderness north of inlet in 2014

 New Holland Honeyeater Phylidonyris novaehollandiae

East Gippsland honeyeater

Description: a medium-sized black, white and yellow honeyeater with a streaky breast and white eye.

Where to see: Common in gardens and forests all around Mallacoota region.

Crescent Honeyeater Phylidonyris pyrrhoptera

Crescent Honeyeater Birds of Mallacoota
By JKMelville (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Description: a medium-sized black, white and yellow honeyeater with two black bars forming a broken crescent on chest

Where to see: Can be seen all over Mallacoota region in forests, but do not seem to be as common this year (2017). They do have a tendency to come down to coast in winter and go up to the mountains in summer. Recent records from Genoa Peak and Shipwreck Creek. 

Come and see some of Mallacoota’s gorgeous honeyeaters on our 15 or 21 day Maximum Wildlife trips. 

Read more about the wildlife of East Gippsland here: Mammals of East Gippsland


A great wildlife experience is not about seeing animals.

A great wildlife experience is not about seeing animals.

A great wildlife experience is not about seeing animals. It is about understanding animals.

I love wildlife. Wild animals are my number one reason for living, and my main reason to travel. But seeing wildlife is only part of the experience.

Its the people who care for wildlife that make the experience.

In Africa in 2016 the rains had failed. At Klaserie, part of Greater Kruger in South Africa with our main Wildlife Guide Martin and our local Guide Enoch, we came upon a herd of magnificent, huge Cape Buffalo grazing beside the track.


They were calm and placid, and seemed happy to graze within metres of us.

After a few minutes of photography, Enoch and Martin started telling us about the condition of the buffalo we were looking at. They were skinny, their hair patchy, and had many ticks.

With a great softness Enoch said “I feel sad for these buffalo.”

Martin then said, also with deep sadness “About half of these buffalo will not survive this summer.”


I looked at them differently from that moment. Where I previously saw an interesting animal, I now saw pride and courage. I saw hurt, and determination. I saw each buffalo as an individual, and I silently wished them luck.

I have never forgotten those Buffalo.

On another trip to Savuti in 2014 we witnessed one of the most magical sights in Africa. On our second day we drove out onto the marsh with Martin and our local guide Izzy. The rains had been kind that year, and brought water to Savuti after many barren years.

With excitement in his voice, Martin pointed out a dark smudge on the horizon. It was like a low cloud, or smoke – dark grey and thick and stretching for miles.

The buffalo have come back” he said, grinning.

The cloud approached slowly, but we watched it all the way. Thousands upon thousands of Cape Buffalo, plodding slowly, grazing as they came. In time the herd filled our view from horizon to horizon.


Buffalo only live on the Savuti Marsh when there is sufficient water to sustain them. They need to drink every day. It had been many, many years since they had been here. Knowing this from our Guides, we appreciated it fully – I think we sat in that open vehicle watching them for an hour.

I have never forgotten those buffalo, because a great Wildlife Guide helped me to understand them.

Both times, if I was without a Guide I might have seen a herd of animals. With a Wildlife Guide I understood the animals.

There is a big difference – seeing is momentary. Understanding is forever.

Wildlife Guide Martin runs wildlife safaris from June to September every year. Next trips are Kenya and Uganda in July 2018. Read more here:


Read why Australians should go to Africa.

Note from the author:  I am a professional Wildlife Guide in Australia. I work with koalas & kangaroos, wombats and the birds of the south-east and with those species I don’t need a guide – I am the guide. My powers of observation, my general understanding of animals are pretty good. But outside of my region, and the species I know, I always try to travel with a Wildlife Guide. It is just better. There’s no way I could know enough about the animals of another country, or even another region of my own country – not ever, no matter how much I read and research before I go.

If you love animals do yourself a favour – get a great Wildlife Guide.

The Mammals of East Gippsland

The Mammals of East Gippsland

Full List of Mammals of East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia

East Gippsland, Victoria has 72 native extant (living) mammal species.  They represent 26 families in 8 orders.  East Gippsland comprises only 0.3% of Australia’s total land area, but is home to over 20% of her native mammals.  Most of the major types of Australian mammals are present in this region: 2 of the 2 monotreme families; 11 of the 17 living marsupial families; 5 of the 8 bat families; 1 of the 1 family of native rodents and 7 of the 10 families of marine mammals.

Read more about why East Gippsland is such a hotspot for mammals here.

Conservation Status in Victoria is noted beside each species thus: CR: Critically Endangered EN: Endangered VU: Vulnerable NT: Near Threatened DD: Data Deficient

MONOTREMES: Order Monotremata  (2)

Family: Ornithorhynchidae (1)

Ornithorhynchus anatinus (Platypus)  Watch video of the elusive Platypus 

Family: Tachyglossidae (1) 

Tachyglossus aculeatus (Short-beaked Echidna)

MARSUPIALS: Infraclass Marsupialia (26)

Order: Diprotodontia (17)
Kangaroos, wallabies:  Suborder Macropodiformes (7)
Family: Macropodidae (5)

Macropus giganteus (Eastern Grey Kangaroo)

Macropus robustus (Eastern Wallaroo) EN

Macropus rufogriseus (Red-necked Wallaby)

Petrogale penicillata (Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby) CR

Wallabia bicolor (Swamp Wallaby)

Family: Potoroidae (2)

Potorous longipes (Long-footed Potoroo) EN

Potorous tridactylus (Long-nosed Potoroo) EN

Koala & wombat: Suborder Vombatiformes (2)
Family: Phascolarctidae (1)

Phascolarctos cinereus (Koala)

Family: Vombatidae (1)

Vombatus ursinus (Common Wombat)

Possums & Gliders: Suborder Phalangeriformes (8)
Family: Acrobatidae (1)

Acrobates pygmaeus (Feathertail Glider)

Family: Burramyidae (1)

Cercartetus nanus (Eastern Pygmy Possum) NT

Family: Pseudocheiridae (2)

Petauroides volans (Greater Glider)

Pseudocheirus peregrinus (Common Ringtail Possum)

Family: Petauridae (2)

Petaurus australis (Yellow-bellied Glider)

Petaurus breviceps (Sugar Glider)

Family: Phalangeridae (2)

Trichosurus caninus (Mountain Brushtail Possum/Bobuck)

Trichosurus vulpecula (Common Brushtail Possum)

Bandicoots: Order Peramelemorphia (2
Family: Peramelidae (2)

Isoodon obesulus (Southern Brown Bandicoot)

Perameles nasuta (Long-nosed Bandicoot)

Dasyurids (carnivorous mammals): Order Dasyuromorphia (7
Family: Dasyuridae (7)

Antechinus flavipes (Yellow-footed Antechinus)

Antechinus agilis (Agile Antechinus)

Antechinus swainsonii (Dusky Antechinus)

Dasyurus maculatus (Tiger/Spot-tailed Quoll) EN

Phascogale tapoatafa (Brush-tailed Phascogale) VU

Sminthopsis leucopus (White-footed Dunnart) NT

Sminthopsis murina (Slender-tailed/Common Dunnart) VU

PLACENTALS/EUTHERIANS: Infraclass Placentalia (44)

Order: Carnivora (6)
Suborder: Caniformia (6)
Family: Canidae (1)

Canis dingo (Dingo) DD

Seals: (5)
Family Otariidae (3)

Arctocephalus pusillus (Cape/Australian Fur Seal)

Arctocephalus forsteri (New Zealand Fur-seal)

Arctocephalus tropicalis (Subantarctic Fur Seal)

Family: Phocidae (2)

Hydrurga leptonyx (Leopard Seal)

Mirounga leonina (Southern Elephant Seal)

Whales & Dolphins (Cetaceans):  Order Cetacea (17)
Suborder: Mysticeti (6)
Family: Balaenidae (1)

Eubalaena australis (Southern Right Whale) CR

Family: Balaenopteridae (5)

Balaenoptera acutorostrata (Minke Whale)

Balaenoptera borealis (Sei Whale) DD

Balaenoptera musculus (Blue Whale)

Balaenoptera physalus (Fin Whale) DD

Megaptera novaeangliae (Humpback Whale) VU

Suborder: Odontoceti (11)
Family: Delphinidae (6)

Delphinus delphis (Short-beaked Common Dolphin)

Grampus griseus (Risso’s Dolphin)

Orcinus orca (Orca)

Pseudorca crassidens (False Killer Whale)

Tursiops australis (Burrunan Dolphin) EN

Tursiops truncatus (Bottlenose Dolphin)

Family: Physeteridae (1)

Physeter macrocephalus (Sperm Whale)

Family: Ziphiidae (4)

Mesoplodon densirostris (Blainville’s Beaked Whale)

Mesoplodon grayi (Gray’s Beaked Whale)

Mesoplodon layardii (Layard’s Beaked Whale)

Ziphius cavirostris (Cuvier’s Beaked Whale)

Bats, Fruit Bats, Flying foxes: Order Chiroptera (16
Flying Foxes: Suborder Megachiroptera (2)
Family: Pteropodidae (2)

Pteropus poliocephalus (Grey-headed Flying-fox) VU

Pteropus scapulatus (Little Red Flying-fox)


Family: Emballonuridae (1)

Saccolaimus flaviventris (Yellow-bellied Sheathtail Bat)

Suborder Microchiroptera (13)
Family: Molossidae (2)

Mormopterus planiceps (Southern Free-tailed Bat)

Tadarida australis (White-striped Free-tailed Bat)

Family: Vespertilionidae (11

Chalinolobus gouldii (Gould’s Wattled Bat)

Chalinolobus morio (Chocolate Wattled Bat)

Falsistrellus tasmaniensis (Eastern False Pipistrelle)

Miniopterus schreibersii (Common Bentwing Bat) EN

Myotis macropus (Large-footed Bat)

Nyctophilus geoffroyi (Lesser Long-eared Bat)

Nyctophilus gouldi (Gould’s Long-eared Bat)

Scotorepens orion (Eastern Broad-nosed Bat)

Vespadelus darlingtoni (Large Forest Bat)

Vespadelus regulus (Southern Forest Bat)

Vespadelus vulturnus (Little Forest Bat)

Suborder: Yinpterochiroptera (1)
Family: Rhinolophidae (1)

Rhinolophus megaphyllus (Smaller Horseshoe Bat) VU

Native rats and mice:  Order Rodentia (5 native)
Family: Muridae (5)

Hydromys chrysogaster (Water Rat)

Mastacomys fuscus (Broad-toothed Mouse) DD

Pseudomys fumeus (Smoky Mouse) CR

Rattus fuscipes (Bush Rat)

Rattus lutreolus (Australian Swamp Rat)

Swamp Rat Mammals of East Gippsland

INTRODUCED MAMMALS (12): not included in totals above

Mus musculus (House Mouse) INTRODUCED

Rattus rattus (Black Rat) INTRODUCED

Canis familiaris (Feral Dog) INTRODUCED

Vulpes vulpes (Fox) INTRODUCED

Felis catus (Cat) INTRODUCED

Equus caballus (Horse/Brumby) INTRODUCED

Bos taurus (European cattle) INTRODUCED

Capra hircus (Goat) INTRODUCED

Axis porcinus (Hog Deer) INTRODUCED

Cervus unicolor (Sambar) INTRODUCED

Lepus capensis (Brown Hare) INTRODUCED

Oryctolagus cuniculus (European rabbit) INTRODUCED

Read about the honeyeaters of Mallacoota here.

This list has been compiled from Wikipedia:

The Museum of Victoria:

Atlas of Living Australia:

and the Land Conservation Council East Gippsland Area Review 1985

If any mammals are missing, please contact

Africa, our brother continent.

Africa, our brother continent.

Why Australians should go to Africa.

Aussies grow up in a subtle, beautiful land. Our animals are soft, grey and gentle, our forests are elegant and ancient. Australia can be harsh, but she will wear you down rather than beat you up.

Africa is a land of huge, wrinkly monsters , thorny straggly forests, and golden predators who pounce on weakness and punish mistakes with brutal death.  Africa is passion and testosterone, excitement and living for the moment. 


But we are continents from the same family. We share wide blue skies, and sun; golden grasslands dotted with herbivores; low but dramatic mountain ranges; sandy and stony deserts and The Bush, filled with wild and crazy birdsong.

Africa is our chest-thumping, irreverent, lovable brother. 

With our brother Africa we share the world’s largest wilderness: the Southern Ocean. We share the Southern Cross in the night sky. We share Baobab/Boab trees, acacias and the protea family of wildflowers.

Like us, Africans see beauty in a desert. We love the feel of dust on our tongue. We love camping, and sharing a campfire after dinner.

On our first trip to Africa we camped in the Kalahari in Botswana. Kori Bustards and Ostriches walked across the creamy-coloured sand, and tiny Steenbok hid in the scratchy shrubs. In the midday heat big animals were only found near the waterholes. Early morning and near dusk more animals came out – Porcupine, Bat-eared Foxes, Honey Badger, Hyenas, Lions.

Steenbok Southern Africa

It was so like Australia that we kept forgetting not to walk off alone and sit under a tree. Our patient Guide Martin reminded us repeatedly, dropping hints about Leopards hiding in the branches.

Later in the trip we sat in the dark in an open vehicle while a herd of Elephants splashed in the Okavango Delta next to us. We were so close we could hear them breathing…… and farting.

Elephant Okavango Delta

For Australians like us, a trip to Africa is a joy not found anywhere else.  Read why you should go with a great Wildlife Guide.   

South African-born Wildlife Guide Martin from Explore Nature runs small group African safaris every year in the best season – June/July. We always travel with him, and recommend him highly. The next trips are 14 or 17 days to Uganda & Kenya in June and July 2018


Kangaroos have lived at Mungo for millions of years.

Kangaroos have lived at Mungo for millions of years.

The earliest kangaroo-like animals – Nambaroo gillespieae – were ranging around northwest Queensland 25 million years ago. Another couple of kangaroos Balbaroo fangaroo and Cookeroo hortusensis have been found as 15-23 million year old fossils at Riversleigh in Queensland.

Mungo, in south-western New South Wales, is also a rich source of fossils. The site is famous for human history, but it is also significant for megafauna fossils.

Procoptodon goliah, the largest kangaroo to have ever lived, has been found in Mungo sediments. This slow giant was 2.2m tall and weighed around 200 kg. It had huge long arms and large curved claws for grasping tree branches to get to the leaves it ate.

Procoptodon goliah Australian Geographic
Procoptodon goliah (far right) Australian Geographic/Image credit Peter Schouten

Some Aboriginal People in NSW have oral history of a huge kangaroo with long arms that was dangerous to people. It is possible that Procoptodon lived with Aboriginal People for as long as 30,000 years. Read more here

Procoptodon goliah Australian Geographic
Procoptodon goliah and other megafauna at Mungo/Australian Geographic/Image credit: Laurie Beirne

A large extinct wallaby, Protemnodon, has also been found at Mungo. Fossils of Sthenurus – a large browsing kangaroo – have also been found close by.

Protemnodon anak & P. tumbuna/Nature/Peter Schouten
Protemnodon anak & P. tumbuna/Nature/Image credit Peter Schouten

Two large extinct macropods (I can’t find their exact species yet) also lived at Mungo. They may have been Macropus pearsoni – who had a large range extending from Cape York and the Darling Downs in Qld to Lake Kanunka in the far north of SA ; and Macropus titan – who ranged from Wellington Caves, NSW, Naracoorte Caves, SA to near Melbourne VIC – who looked like a much larger Eastern Grey Kangaroo.

How did Procoptodon and Protemnodon die out? It is one of the great debates that has raged in Australia for decades. Mungo may have provided the answer.

Griffith University researchers searched for megafauna fossils in areas that also showed continuous occupation by Aboriginal People. Mungo was the perfect location, with a known timeline of Aboriginal occupation going back 50,000 years. They found megafauna surviving 33,000 years ago – at least 17,000 years after the arrival of Aboriginal People.

As this article in The Conversation shows, the theory that Aboriginal People wiped out the megafauna is not supported by science.

Learn more about Aboriginal History and megafauna at Mungo on our 4 day private Mungo Outback Journey

Read about our Aboriginal Guide’s in-depth knowledge of Mungo plants




About Channel-billed Cuckoos and other cuckoos of the Top End

About Channel-billed Cuckoos and other cuckoos of the Top End

Cuckoos are unpopular with other birds. They have a habit of sneaking into other birds houses, chucking out the kids and depositing cuckoo children in their place. The unwilling surrogate parents find themselves feeding a voracious cuckoo child, at great personal expense.


You would think the surrogate parents would realise that the cuckoo child wasn’t theirs, but it doesn’t work that way. Any egg that hatches in their nest is their child. It is hard-wired in birds.

They have their revenge though – bird species that are often host parents of cuckoo children bear a grudge against any and every cuckoo they see. As a result cuckoos are unpopular with other birds. Adult cuckoos are often harassed by the birds they parasitise. Read about one study on this behaviour conducted near Melbourne.

This might be why cuckoos have a tendency to sit still in a tree, well hidden. They don’t fly around making themselves noticeable. The Channel-billed Cuckoo is a perfect example.

We must have walked and driven past dozens of these enormous birds in the Top End before seeing the first one properly. Read about how excited we were to see the first one properly here. Seriously, they are 58-65cm long from beak to tail!

Every year around August they fly over from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. They hit the Northern Territory and Queensland Top End first, then over November and December end up as far south as Sydney and even East Gippsland, Victoria and the suburbs of Melbourne. Read more about them here.

They come to breed, and to do that they stop being unobtrusive. Their loud and wonderful calls ring out through the sub-tropical forests they love. Visit this page to listen.

The Top End has other lovely cuckoos too – including the huge and gorgeous Pheasant Coucal that seems to prefer running around on the ground to flying.


Their call is magnificent – something like a troupe of monkeys crossed with water dripping into a resonant drum. Listen here on Birdlife Australia Unlike other cuckoos, the Pheasant Coucal does build its own nest and raise its own children.

We also see, when we’re lucky, the tiny Little Bronze-cuckoo. This bird has a soothing, cicada-like hum that makes you think of summer and lazy afternoons. Listen and see great pictures on Graeme Chapman’s site.


The 6 day Wild Top End wildlife tour runs every August – which we think is the best time to be there. Its not too hot, most of the migrant birds have arrived, and its dry enough to get into the great places to see these Top End cuckoos and other wonderful birds.

Janine Duffy, Wildlife Guide. 



About Saltwater Crocodiles

About Saltwater Crocodiles

Saltwater Crocodiles are the world’s largest reptile.  The largest individuals can exceed 7 metres (10metres has even been suggested) and weigh over 1 tonne.  They can live over 100 years.

About saltwater crocodiles

“Salties” live in Australia’s wild Top End (the northern parts of the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia), and throughout south-east Asia.  The Mary River in the Northern Territory has the largest density of crocodiles of any waterway in the world.

Read more about the crocodiles of the Mary River here: Crocodiles are beautiful

Australia has another species of crocodile too – the Freshwater Crocodile.

identify freshwater crocodiles from saltwater crocodiles

This is how to identify a freshwater crocodile from a saltwater crocodile. You can tell them apart usually from their size (freshies rarely grow as large as salties).  But if you see a big one – like this one in the picture below – you’ll see that freshwater crocs have a slimmer snout than saltwater crocs, and behind the eyes there is a triangular growth that is large and pronounced in salties, and low and flat in freshies.   Salties have rows of pointed scutes*(2) (osteoderms) on their head and back, freshies have flatter scutes. Compare the two pics below:

how to identify a freshwater crocodile

how to tell a saltwater crocodile from a freshwater crocodile

Crocodiles are the most intelligent of reptiles, with an extraordinary ability to learn quickly.  They are famous for picking up on the habits of their prey: fishermen in Arnhemland are warned not to use the same fishing spot too regularly.  They have also been recorded using tools* (1), an attribute shared with primates, dolphins, elephants and crows, and considered one of the signs of high intelligence.

Mother crocodiles tend and guard their nest for the whole time the eggs are growing.  She will even splash water over the nest to cool it on hot days.  After the eggs hatch and the babies start calling, she breaks open the nest and assists them to disperse by carrying them gently in her mouth. She will even help open eggs that are struggling to hatch.

You can see them on Echidna Walkabout’s 6 day Wild Top End wildlife tour Australia which runs every August.



*2 Scutes: special non-overlapping scale-like structures that clad a crocodile’s body.  Scutes have a bony structure.  They are shed in small pieces, not as one continuous skin like snakes’ scales.