Australia is the sixth largest country on Earth. It is 11 times the size of Texas, and 31 times the UK, but it is sparsely populated by only 23 million people. Australia has been geographically isolated for so long (c. 80 million years) from other land masses that it has evolved a highly specialized, unique endemic fauna. This is also reflected in its bird life, and raptors are no exception.
Many Endemic Raptors
Nineteen of the 24 diurnal raptor species that occur there are endemic or nearly so. Many of them are widespread and fairly common, so finding raptors in Australia is fairly easy, especially if one goes to the right locations. We will try to see every one of the endemic raptors and will see most of the others as well. We will have several local expert co-leaders for a few days each and will see many other birds and members of the charismatic native fauna as well.
A Relaxing Birding Vacation
This trip will not involve long walks or any other strenuous activities; we do have a few long-drive days, but always stopping to see most raptors. Most raptor and bird watching will be done from the vehicle or on short walks. The tour will be conducted at a leisurely pace, with lots of time to observe each raptor, and other birds and animals, too.
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Day-by-Day Itinerary | Main Tour
Dates apply to the 2016 edition
Sunday, October 2
Arrive in Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (IATA code: SYD). Meet with Raptours' staff and transfer to hotel near the airport. Personal introductions in the evening at dinner. Overnight in Sydney.
Monday, October 3
All-day excursion with stops and short walks in the Upper Hawkesbury River to target many common raptors, including Black-shouldered Kite, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brown Goshawk, Swamp Harrier, Whistling Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, White-bellied Sea Eagle, and Brown Falcon, with a chance for Grey Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk, and Australian Hobby, and maybe Square-tailed Kite, Pacific Baza, and Spotted Harrier, among others. Dinner and overnight in Sydney.
Tuesday, October 4
Visit different scenic areas west of Sydney to target a similar list as the day before. Dinner and overnight in Sydney.
Wednesday, October 5
Drive to Tamworth for most of the morning. Meet with Stephen Debus for lunch. Visit Black Falcon breeding territory in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in Armidale.
Thursday, October 6
Visit several raptor breeding areas with Stephen. We will target Black-shouldered Kite, Little Eagle, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brown Goshawk, Swamp Harrier, Spotted Harrier, Black Kite, Whistling Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, and Australian Hobby. Dinner and overnight in Armidale.
Friday, October 7
In the morning we will drive slowly toward Grafton stopping to look for duck-billed platypus on the way. Then drive to the coast to target Osprey, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite, and hopefully Pacific Baza. Dinner and overnight in Grafton.
Saturday, October 8
Another chance to target less common species such as Square-tailed Kite, and Pacific Baza. Dinner and overnight in Grafton.
Sunday, October 9
By now we have probably covered most or all of the raptor species in the wetter east coast. Time for us to head far west inland to target species that belong in drier parts. So today is mostly a driving day (380 mi, 8 h) but we are stopping for raptors we have not seen yet. Dinner and overnight in St. George.
Monday, October 10
Drive to Cunnamulla in the morning stopping to watch raptors on the way. Lunch upon arrival. Explore Bowra Wildlife Refuge in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in Cunnamulla.
Tuesday & Wednesday, October 11-12
Lots of raptors to be seen here. Best chance for Black-breasted Buzzard, and Grey Falcon. Dinner and overnight in Cunnamulla.
Thursday, October 13
Bowra in the morning. Lunch. Drive to Bourke in the afternoon stopping to watch raptors along the way. Dinner and overnight in Bourke.
Friday, October 14
Drive to Dubbo stopping to watch raptors along the way. Lunch en route. Dinner and overnight in Dubbo.
Saturday, October 15
Drive to Sydney stopping to watch raptors along the way. Dinner and overnight near the airport in Sydney.
Sunday, October 16
Catch flights home or continue on the Top End Extension.
Day-by-Day Itinerary | Top End Extension
Dates apply to the 2016 edition
Sunday, October 16
Flight to Darwin in the morning. Local Darwin in the afternoon. Grey Goshawk likely in the city. We will check out a local park for roosting owls. Dinner and overnight in Darwin.
Monday, October 17
Drive to Kakadu Park. We will be stopping at several areas good for raptors. We should see Australian Hobby, Osprey, Black Kite, and others. Dinner and overnight in Kakadu Park.
Tuesday, October 18
Drive to Pine Creek targeting Red Goshawk and other raptors all day. Dinner and overnight in Pine Creek.
Wednesday, October 19
Visit a breeding territory of Red Goshawk. This is an extremely rare raptor. Dinner and overnight in Pine Creek.
Thursday, October 20
Drive to Darwin in the morning. Fly to Sydney in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in Sydney.
Friday, October 21
Catch flights back home. Extra nights in Sydney can be arranged upon request.
- Black-shouldered Kite
- Letter-winged Kite
- Square-tailed Kite
- Black-breasted Buzzard
- Pacific Baza
- Little Eagle
- Wedge-tailed Eagle
- Red Goshawk
- Grey Goshawk
- Brown Goshawk
- Collared Sparrowhawk
- Swamp Harrier
- Spotted Harrier
- Black Kite
- Whistling Kite
- Brahminy Kite
- White-bellied Sea Eagle
- Nankeen Kestrel
- Australian Hobby
- Brown Falcon
- Grey Falcon
- Black Falcon
- Peregrine Falcon
- Pandion haliaetus
- Elanus axillaris
- Elanus scriptus
- Lophoictinia isura
- Hamirostra melanosternon
- Aviceda subcristata
- Hieraaetus morphnoides
- Aquila audax
- Erythrotriorchis radiatus
- Accipiter novaehollandiae
- Accipiter fasciatus
- Accipiter cirrocephalus
- Circus approximans
- Circus assimilis
- Milvus migrans
- Haliastur sphenurus
- Haliastur indus
- Haliaeetus leucogaster
- Falco cenchroides
- Falco longipennis
- Falco berigora
- Falco hypoleucos
- Falco subniger
- Falco peregrinus
Suggested Field Guides
Debus, S. 1998. The Birds of Prey of Australia. Oxford University Press.
Hollands, D. 1984. Eagles, Hawks, and Falcons of Australia. Thomas Nelson, Melbourne.
Cupper, J., and L. Cupper. 1981. Hawks in Focus. Jaclin Enterprises, Mildura, Australia.
Local Raptor Expert
Birds of Prey of Australia
Raptours, L.L.C. reserves the right to alter this itinerary as necessary, or to cancel the tour prior to departure, with full refund to participants.
Raptours, L.L.C. or its agents may decline to accept or retain any person as a member of this tour at any time.
No smoking will be permitted while with the group, either when indoors or in the field.
Travel medical insurance is strongly recommended.
All passengers will be required to sign a hard copy of the Release of Liability and Assumption of Risk form upon meeting with the tour leader in Sydney.
No participants will be allowed in the group without a signed copy of the Release of Liability and Assumption of Risk form.