Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kakadu Explorations Continued

Fortified by the hearty late breakfast our explorations continued along dusty tracks to search for various types of finches, Diamond Doves, Hooded Parrots and other birds we were hoping to add to our already impressive list! Along the way we came across another dingo – and like the previous one we had seen earlier this one was also skinny, compared to the ones I had seen at Uluru. Early afternoon we stopped for lunch at a little picnic area, and we had barely gotten out of the car, before Luke heard the finches! So, of course, lunch was put on the backburner, as we searched around to get a glimpse of them. They were all around, and we got good looks at a whole family of Masked and Long-tailed finches, before we settled down for our by now very late lunch.
There were several other stops Luke had planned for the day, but as we sat over lunch to take stock of our time, we all decided that we should skip a couple of those, so we could be back at our campsite while we still had daylight to check out the birdlife there. – So we headed back that way – of course with lots of stops for birds flying by, or sitting along the Kakadu Highway. Sadly, as we passed the site of the morning accident there were still several police cars there, with officers busy measuring and investigating, and when we asked one of the them how the driver was doing his "Not Good" said it all. Very sad and tragic.

As we reached the dirt road leading into the Murdudjurl area, we stopped to admire the wild horses and the wetland teeming with life. We were glad we had made the decision to get back to experience this.
We actually managed to be back in camp early enough to enjoy the sunset, and after a long day it was nice to get a shower before dinner, and enjoy sitting in the warm evening watching the moon and the stars getting brighter as the sky darkened and night fell.
Luke had prepared a barbeque feast with steaks, sausages and kangaroo meat, accompanied by several salads! After dinner we did the bird list of the day, and compared how many new species we had seen – quite impressive!
- We saw 32 new species in just that one day – and the day before we had seen 61 different species of birds! Most of which I would never have spotted without an expert birder like Luke to search them out! He is quite amazing – he knows where to find the birds, and he can recognize their calls, and then actually find them, or sometimes even call them closer, so we can see them with our binoculars or the scope! This is my first "real" bird watching trip, (other than my one day with my birding guide Wang Kong in Danum Valley) but certainly not my last – I'm hooked!
We heard the barking owl calling again, and Luke suggested a night walk before bedtime – John and I were game – Sally opted for bed. – So the three of us set out with our flashlights along the trail, and Luke shines over the waters of the billabong. We see several crocodile eyes shining red in the spotlight. As we walk along, Luke shines his light into the water, and apparently sees a File Snake – how he saw it, I don't know, but both John and I are a bit concerned as Luke reaches into the water – we are thinking about the crocodiles we know are there – even if the ones we saw were on the other side – but all of a sudden Luke pulls up the snake, and we get to touch it's rough skin thus the name. It is a water snake, and not poisonous – the aboriginals eat them – we put it back in the Billabong, and head back to camp – tomorrow is another early day and we have to pack up, as this is the last night!

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