Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yellow Water

On Monday 29 June, Cooinda seemed almost town-like after a few days of intermittant electricity, web access and phone coverage. All the comforts of the big city.

Yellow Water is a billabong that floods each wet season to join other bodies of water. Located at the end of Jim Jim Creek, a tributary of the South Alligator River, it is home to crocodiles, wild horses, buffalo and other wildlife including millions of birds, including jacana, egrets, jabiru, sea-eagles, magpie geese, ducks and many other native species. Paperbark forests, pandanus and fresh-water mangroves line the shore, and the water is dotted with beautiful pink and white waterlilies. Yellow Water is one of Kakadu National Park’s best known landmarks, and the cruises are deservedly popular. We had booked in advance for the dawn cruise - understandably the best for seeing the birdlife.

The evening brought honeyeaters, trillers, flyctachers, orioles and corellas to the trees and shrubs at the resort, and a hobby and goshawks cruising by. Night presented us with barking owls obligingly perched near the camping area.

The dawn cruise was a fantastic experience. Our guide, Jake, was observant and knowledgeable - locating even small birds on the banks, and giving interesting background information. He told us that the nankeen night-heron is known by the local Aboriginal people as the "Love myself a lot bird" for it's habit of staring motionless into the water. And also said that the Aboriginal reports of whistling kites picking up burning sticks from a fire and dropping them in an area with prey species, had been confirmed by a scientific study.
The boats were able to glide very close to perched sea-eagles, usually shy grebes and the wonderful jacanas. Magpie geese and whistling ducks flew overhead in a repeated v-formations. During the Dry season they congregate in thousands on the edges of Yellow Water. Groups of burdekin ducks congregated on the banks. Darters sunned themselves on low branches.

Walking back to the resort from the cruise dock extended the experience and gave good views of a number of woodland birds.

Bird List:

Comb-crested Jacana Irediparra gallinacea (pictured above)
Magpie Goose Anseranas semipalmata
Plumed Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna eytoni
Radjah Shelduck Tadorna radjah
Green Pygmy-Goose Nettapus pulchellus
Australasian Grebe Tachybaptus novaehollandiae
Darter Anhinga melanogaster
White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae
Pied Heron Ardea picata
Cattle Egret Ardea ibis
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Nankeen Night Heron Nycticorax caledonicus
Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis
Australian White Ibis Threskiornis molucca
Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia
Black-necked Stork Ehippioryhnchus asiaticus
Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus
White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
Grey Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica
Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea
Barking Owl Ninox connivens
Little Kingfisher Alcedo pusilla
Azure Kingfisher Alcedo azurea
Blue-winged Kookaburra Dacelo leachii
Forest Kingfisher Todiramphus macleayii
Sacred Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus
Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus
Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis
White-gaped Honeyeater Lichenostomus unicolor
White-throated Honeyeater Melithreptus albogularis
Rufous-banded Honeyeater Conopophila albogularis
Rufous-throated Honeyeater Conopophila rufogularis
Lemon-bellied Flycatcher Microeca flavigaster
Broad-billed Flycatcher Myiagra ruficollis
Paperbark Flycatcher Myiagra inquieta nana
Yellow Oriole Oriolus flavocinctus

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