Meet the Crew

Luke Paterson and Sarah Burgess of NT Bird Specialists

Luke Paterson and Sarah Burgess of NT Bird Specialists

NT Bird Specialists is an award-winning birding and photography tour operation, owned and operated by Luke Paterson and Sarah Burgess in Darwin and Kakadu, Northern Territory, Australia.

“We have a united passion and experience in working for sustainable tourism businesses and conservation projects, which has led us to work across Southern, Central, Western and Northern Australia and South East Asia. We believe the best way to show case the rich natural and cultural diversity of the ‘Top End’, is to deliver high quality service and interpretation during guided tours in the environments we love.

NT Bird Specialists is an Australian Accredited Tourism Business. We hold all current permits, licenses and insurances required for operating tours in the Northern Territory, so we can conduct safe, ethical and memorable tours for you.

We look forward to welcoming guests to the Northern Territory to share in the passion that our fine selection of feathered friends bring”


Luke Paterson –Specialist Bird and Photography Guide

Specialist Bird Guide, Luke Paterson Photo Credit: Don Fuchs, Australian Geographic

Specialist Bird & Photography Guide, Luke Paterson
Photo Credit: Don Fuchs, Australian Geographic

Luke has built his tourism industry experience and reputation over 15 dedicated years, the majority from guiding exceptional tours in remote outback Northern Territory and Western Australia, (Kimberley Region) locations.
Luke has an in depth knowledge of the natural and cultural environments of these areas. His attention to detail and amazing ability to spot wildlife from a far has earned him a reputation for having ‘hawk eyes’. Guests and past employees commend his professionalism, reliability and great company on tour.
Luke loves a challenge and will not give up looking for birds easily. One of his favourite birds is the Gouldian Finch. They will win any birder over, sometimes seen in flocks of over 300. We can’t promise this sighting but when it does happen, it’s marvellous!!

Luke’s passion for birds and wildlife developed as a child, during family camping trips around Victoria in Australia’s south east. After graduating with a Diploma in Natural Resource Management, Luke flew the coop north west to Broome. Luke spent a year at the magnificent Roebuck Bay, employed as the Assistant Warden at the Birds Australia Broome Bird Observatory. He led bird watching tours and assisted in the capture, banding and research of various bird species (mist and cannon netting). This is how Luke developed his sharp identification skills for shorebirds.
Luke’s next move was a one-way migration to Darwin, where he has based himself as a nature tourism guide for the past 13 years. Spending countless hours exploring the bush has only made his passion for birds and wildlife grow stronger and his wildlife photography collection expanded extensively.


Professional Services and Achievements:

Luke’s efforts in delivering excellent detail and contribution to reputable tourism have not gone unnoticed. Luke is a well-know face of tourism in the Northern Territory, show casing what this diverse landscape has to offer on overland birdwatching and outback photography tours. NT Bird Specialist’s guiding services are often booked to provide specialist and luxury tours (bird watching, photography, travel agent, media and film crew familiarisations tours), and guide training. NT Bird Specialists is acquiring an international as well as Australian following for his work in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley.

November 2016
NT Bird Specialists won a First Time Entrant’ Brolga Northern Territory Tourism Award. Winning a Brolga Award is the highest tourism accolade in the Northern Territory.

October 2015 and 2016
NT Bird Specialists and Luke Paterson guided tours, activities and lectures during Kakadu Bird Week.
Read Australian Geographic Article by Gemma Chilton here: Images by Don Fuchs and Luke Paterson.

Yellow Waters Credit: Don Fuchs

Yellow Waters Credit: Don Fuchs

IMG-116.Kakadu NP.NT.Yellow Water Cruise with Luke Paterson

Yellow Waters, Credit: Don Fuchs



See more Kakadu Bird Week 2016 photos by Don Fuchs, Australian Geographic here:




August 2015 and 2016

Luke was been sponsored by Tourism NT to represent the birdwatching industry in the Northern Territory at the British BirdFair at the ‘Australia’ Outback Northern Territory’ stand and lecture hall.

April 2016
Leica Optics, Singapore Airlines and Tourism NT  
birding documentary in Darwin and Kakadu National Park, hosted by ‘The Urban Birder’ (David Lindo and crew) and captured by the “Young BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ and travel writer, Luke Massey and Katie Stacey

Watch video
Read Birdwatch Magazine Article by David Lindo here: 
Read Sunday Territorian Article by Katie Stacey here: Page 1 and Page 2

April 2016
Guiding the Channel 9 Getaway travel show and host Kathy Lette for ‘Scenic Tours’.

November 2014
Luke was sponsored by Tourism NT to represent Northern Territory bird watching tourism in Sydney at the Australasian Bird Fair.

April 2013
Luke was featured on the Channel 9 ‘Today Show’ in the ‘Best Job In the World’ and again in May 2015 on the Today Show for a morning shoot at Kakadu National Park.

Luke has also been nominated by his guests and won multiple Tourism Top End ‘Super Deeds Awards for Going the extra mile in tourism’.

May 2011
Luke Paterson guided a 2 week Ken Duncan Landscape Photography tour’ through the Kimberley (Broome – Broome).

November 2010
Luke won the prestigious Brolga Northern Territory Tourism Award for ‘Most Outstanding Interpretive Guide 2010’.