Sunday, 11 July 2010

More pics from Oz

Time for a few more pics from my recent trip to Australia's Top End, that part of Northern Territory stretching south and east of Darwin.

The first picture shows a Darter, on the wetlands close to the Gagadju Lodge, Cooinda. We took in the Yellow Water Dawn Cruise, seeing huge numbers of Plumed Whistling Ducks, various egrets and herons, a lot of Rainbow Bee-eaters and Forest Kingfishers, and a scattering of White-bellied Sea Eagles and Jabirus.

Next picture is me having a bit of a refresher at Gunlom, after we'd climbed the escarpment in search of the White-throated Grasswren. Sadly it eluded us, one of the few target species to do so, but having a midday dip was some compensation. The view's incredible, back across the Kakadu National Park, and the water's cold. And crocodiles can't climb, either.

The third pic is of one of our camp sites on the three-day canoe safari down the Katherine River, with Paula of Gecko Canoe Safaris, and my guide, Chris Parker. We had Blue-winged Kookaburras in the trees around us, while other birds included Black Bittern, Great-billed Heron and a lot of raptors. You'll notice that, as well as the battered field guides and binoculars, we hadn't neglected to pack a few bottles of the best Aussie reds, to help pass the evenings. Later, sleeping out in the open, we could hear dingos howling on the far side of the river, plus one or two strange animal noises we preferred not to try to identify!

Finally, a really bad picture of some female Hooded Parrots, taken at Pine Creek as we headed back to Darwin on the last evening. I was having to rest my compact camera in the fork of a small tree, and the light was entirely wrong, so this was the best I managed before they flew off and met up with some calling males. But it's one of the signature birds of the Top End, and we were thrilled to finally track some down.

I should just mention that, should you be interested in finding out more about the area, a full trip report will be in a future issue of Bird Watching. But you should also have a look at the website of Fisher King, Chris's company. I can't recommend him as a guide highly enough.


Caroline Gill said...

With arm in sling, life takes time! Only just caught up on these great photos.

Matt Merritt said...

Thanks Caroline. Really wish we'd been able to get a half-decent pic of the parrots, but I was using a tiny compact camera and had nothing to rest it on.