Day 5, morning – second day in Kakadu, Yellow Water wetland cruise
Was it yesterday we encountered a group of cyclists while queuing for a ‘comfort stop’ after visiting the termite mounds? At the queue for the loo, I chatted with one of the men. They were being taken to tourist spots in a big bus in the mornings, then after lunch they took their bicycles from their support vehicle to cycle 80 km in the afternoons. Rinse and repeat for a couple of weeks. Such stamina in 33 degrees C!
Let’s hope they didn’t encounter the things that apply to this permit. Luckily we didn’t.
Every day the very organised Candice and Tom provided us with plenty of cooked and uncooked breakfast options and prepared the troopie for the day’s activities. They provided lunches, too, and dinners every night. Such energy! On the road, we occasionally dropped into petrol stations that also supplied various kinds of alcohol to buy (this is not usual in the eastern states of Australia where alcohol must come from a separate store).
The whole of Kakadu is a Ramsar site, designated an internationally important wetland under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat. According to Wikipedia:
A wetland can be considered internationally important if any of the following nine criteria apply:
Criterion 1: ‘it contains a representative, rare, or unique example of a natural or near-natural wetland type found within the appropriate biogeographic region.’
Criterion 2: ‘it supports vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities.’
Criterion 3: ‘it supports populations of plant and/or animal species important for maintaining the biological diversity of a particular biogeographic region.’
Criterion 4: ‘it supports plant and/or animal species at a critical stage in their life cycles, or provides refuge during adverse conditions.’
Criterion 5: ‘it regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds.’
Criterion 6: ‘it regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of waterbird.’
Criterion 7: ‘it supports a significant proportion of indigenous fish subspecies, species or families, life-history stages, species interactions and/or populations that are representative of wetland benefits and/or values and thereby contributes to global biological diversity.’
Criterion 8: ‘it is an important source of food for fishes, spawning ground, nursery and/or migration path on which fish stocks, either within the wetland or elsewhere, depend.’
Criterion 9: ‘it regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of wetland-dependent non-avian animal species.’
I suspect that Kakadu covers all of those criteria.
The place was drying out – water levels can drop as much as four metres from the heights of the wet season – and as the dry progresses, the birds and animals crowd together in or near the remaining water sources. There were lots of saltwater crocs resting on the river’s edges and flocks of birds of different species feeding in the still-soggy vegetation away from the river. All the wildlife is used to lots of human boat traffic, so didn’t take much notice of us. The captions on the photos below give the names. ‘TICK’ indicates the first time I’ve see the species in the wild.
There may have been some wandering whistling ducks (Dendrocygna arcuata) with the plumed whistling ducks above, but it was too hard to differentiate them at the time.
Strictly speaking, we should call the bird below the black-necked stork since the common name ‘jabiru’ belongs to a South American stork, but all the birdos I know would immediately say ‘jabiru’.
The next bird is also known as the ‘Jesus bird’ or ‘lily trotter’ for its apparent ability to walk on water. It has very long toes that allow it to spread its weight on big waterlily leaves. We saw several very cute, fluffy chicks near the adults, too.
There were numerous egrets – great, intermediate and little (Ardea alba, Ardea intermedia and Ardea garzetta).
I’ve neglected the water plants. Apologies if I have the IDs wrong – let me know and I will change them.
The humans weren’t the only ones feeling the heat. Crocs cool down by resting in shallow water and/or opening their mouths to let the body heat escape.
We saw some natural crocodile feeding action, too – one of the crocs in the shallows curled its tail tighter and tighter to form a small pond around the fish. At the last minute the fish jumped! – and the croc snapped at it but missed. You won’t see this in a zoo.
I found it an altogether satisfying cruise supplying a lot of TICKS.
The Marrawuddi Art Gallery was unexpectedly closed so we couldn’t see that. A rock art gallery walk was scheduled for the afternoon but I chose to miss it. I had noticed there was a nice-looking (artificial) pool at the campground so decided to go for a swim to cool off and stretch my back. Next to it was a bar and bistro, open only at night, all terribly civilised but a bit incongruous considering where we were. In the pool I chatted with a woman from Melbourne. She was a lawyer and was really enjoying her first holiday in two and a half years – Melbourne had been in extreme lockdown for most of that time.
I’ll let others tell the story of Nourlangie in the next post.