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Darwin Sept 2006 Bird Watching Trip Report

Author: Carl from Pahrump
Email: carlball@yahoo.com (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: September 2006

Info at the park said they estimate there are 100,000 Dusky Rats per Square Km and 800 Water Pythons per Square Km -- the greatest biomass on Earth. Since there were 100s of Sq Km's you would think we would see lots of snakes, but we didn't see any (that's OK). They say in The Wet the rats migrate 12 Km to the Adelaide River and the snakes follow. I wouldn't want to live there.

When you are at Fogg Dam, especially driving on the dike, the sound of the thousands of birds flying is a natural symphony. It sounds similar to a swarm of bees but magnified thousands of times.

jabiru darwin australiaFor the first 2 hours we had the park to our self. The din of bird squawking was always in the background. We could drive on the dam and stop whenever we wanted to see birds. We saw lots of Willie Wagtails and Jesus Birds. At the lookout tower we saw a pair of Jabirus (they look like the toy soldiers in the Nutcracker, except they have really long black beaks), Star Finches and Chestnut-breasted Manikins.

Fogg Dam is a permanent wetland 54 Km from our cottage (35 minute drive). It averages 54 inches of rain during the Wet.

We were back at Fogg Dam pre-sunrise on Sept 14. As we approached the area we could see a sheet of mist blanketing the wetlands coming to about 3 feet off the ground. We were greeted by swarms of mossie-quail (really big mosquitoes). The mossies seems to disappear after sunrise. There was a flock of Crimson Finches and a few Star Finches in the parking lot today, plus we saw a Broad-billed Flycatcher. Everywhere we walk we were followed by Yellow Orioles. They have a strange call; like the sound a slot machine or pinball machine makes.

We saw a bee hive today. It looked like a honeycomb attached to a tree with no exterior housing; just lots of bees. There were several Rainbow Bee Eaters around. We could see them catch a bee and beat it to death on a tree limb.

We were at Fogg Dam at 6:45am on Sept 15 for sunrise. Today we took the 2.2Km Lily Pond Track. We saw Water Lilies, Lotus Lilies and Water Lettuce (looks like Hen & Chicks floating on the water). We could hear birds and a Barking Owl, but they were hard to see in the tall trees. We did come on a pair of Green-backed Warblers building a nest in vines hanging over some backwater. We spotted a flock of Purple Swamp Hens along the Dam and heard a Buff-banded Rail.

We saw 2 huge Brolga fly into the Adelaide River wetlands (12.660 S 131.337E) just before sunrise on Sept 16. We spent the early morning at Djukbinj NP, 4.4 Km east of the Adelaide River on the Arnhem Hwy & road to Kakadu NP (NT36).

We had to walk thru the park since the big Cat 5 Typhoon in March 2006 washed out the roads. Just inside the park a flock of 50 Chestnut-breasted Manikins flew into a tree near us. After a little walking we started seeing Agile Wallabies running away from us as fast as their little tails would take them. We saw 7 Wallabies this morning. We saw our first snake -- a baby pink Moon Snake (looked like a big night crawler with an attitude).

We went to Crustaceans on the Warf with Paul & Christie for supper. We sat outdoors and the ocean breeze was beautiful -- hard to believe this is still Winter here. My wife ordered Croc in egg wash for a starter. Croc is much softer and milder than Louisiana Alligator. The Crock came with a Mango chili sauce -- Wonderful! I had 2 crab cakes with a garden salad -- similar to Maryland crab cakes.

My wife ordered Australian Prawns for her main course -- it came with macadamia nuts and pineapple chunks in a misery sauce. I had Morton Bay Bugs, bok choy, and Parmesan cheese baked in filo leaves. Each order came with a mound of rice (at least 2 cups) and more salad. The main courses were not as tasty as the starters.

Mid morning on Sept 17 we went to the monthly Knuckey Lagoon market with Christie. We bought 3 crocheted market bags for $5US.

The local gem club was at the market selling raw Opals they had found on their recent trip to Cooper Pebbly in the desert of South Australia. We bought 2 sandwich bags full of raw Opals from Mark for $80US. Mark invited us to the Wed night gem club meeting near our cottage to learn how to polish and prepare the Opals for wearing. Even though they are still raw, the Opals really sparkle with their special blue and green irradiances in the sunlight. One looks like a raw Yellow Diamond.

litchfield national park australia waterfallsFor our afternoon walk we went to the nearby Scout Hall Paperbark Forest. We saw a Frilled Lizard with enormous ears that it can fan out to make itself seem really big to predators. They look like dinosaurs when they run with their ears out. A road sign said: We like our Lizards Frilled, not grilled.

We were on the road at sunrise on Sept 18 and were greeted by widespread heavy fog. We drove 80 miles to Litchfield NP. The area is covered with tall Termite Hills -- some look like gravestones, some like Cathedrals, others are additions to trees. A different type of termite builds each kind of hill.

We did 4 walking tracks - not many birds but some nice waterfalls today. The sunset was a deep Ocher tonight. I suppose all the Bush fires lately contribute to the color in the night sky.

We went down the road 20Km on Sept 19 to Howard Springs Natural Park. We walked the 1.8Km trail thru the Monsoon forest. The birds sounded like a pack of monkeys, but it was hard to find them in the tall trees. We got some great views of a pair of Rainbow Pitas scratching on the ground and a Pacific Baza wearing its prison uniform high in a tree. The Rose-crowned Fruit Dove was awesome. There were dozens of Orange Footed Scrubfowl. They build a nest on the ground about 15 ft in diameter and up to 5 ft tall, just to lay their one egg in.

For supper Christie fixed lamb meatballs with a Greek yogurt sauce served with tabulah. For dessert we had banana fritters with Kings Island Chocolate Sauce and Sara Lee Ice Cream.

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