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Top End of the NT - Kakadu, Matarinka & Tennant CrAuthor: Carl from pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from pahrump)
Date of Trip: September 2006
We were out so early on Oct 8 there was just a faint spot of dull pink on the eastern horizon that was further subdued by the bright glowing Moon. Later as we were driving east of the Barkley Highway we saw the Ring of Fire briefly before sunrise.
We drove 70 Km east to the 41Mile Bore (a.k.a. Well). We saw birds all along the road including lots of Zebra Finches, a small Southern Boobook Hawk looking Owl, White-winged Fairywren, Variegated Fairywren, and a Singing Honeyeater. There were hundreds of White-breasted and Black-faced Woodswallows. We stopped to take a picture of a Truck-Train siding full of trucks in the Bush.
The 41 Mile Bore (19.321S 134.850E) is a sprawling rest area/free camping area with lots of trees and bush. Everywhere we looked the trees were full of White-lined Honeyeaters. We watched ten thousand Budgerigars (small bright green parrots with a yellow crown) flying in clouds like schools of reef fish -- merging and separating endlessly -- when they turned just right their wings flashed the sun's rays.
If you continue to drive East there are other Bores. They all have leaky windmill water pumps and barrels that attract mobs of small birds.
On the drive back to the Three Way Roadhouse we made frequent stops and saw 3 Red-capped Robins (a small "ball of fire" flying thru the air accentuated by a black breast). Later a Black-breasted Kite with white patches on the end of the wings made a bombing run at our car. There are no "Hawks" or "Buzzards" in Australia.
The morning drive took 6 hours. It was 95F in the shade (115F in the direct sun) when we finished the drive. By then the birds were laying low in the bush.
We decided to go into town for lunch, but there were no restaurants open, so we drove back to the Three Ways Roadhouse. We had freshly prepared fish and chips with salad. The fish was hand breaded and fried on the grill in olive oil. What a Beautiful Truck Stop!
We napped in the afternoon until the electricity went out and the A/C stopped. Fortunately, it came back on in a few minutes. This happens most days.
For our late afternoon birding we drove back on the Barkley Highway 35 Km. We saw 3 magnificent Square-tailed Kites soaring on the thermals steering their course by twisting their large tail. We saw heaps of Zebra Finches. We finally got a good enough look to identify the Pied Honeyeater we had been seeing all day.
When we got back there was a mob of Aborigines standing by a bus outside the restaurant at the Three Ways Roadhouse. They were singing and dancing. It turns out they were from an island north of Darwin and were returning from Alice Springs where they had attended a Catholic conference celebrating the 10th anniversary of Pope John Paul II coming to Australia. They were singing to thank the Restaurant for fixing them dinner. Some of them were wearing shirts that said: "For thousands of years we have lived in this land and fashioned a culture that endures to this day."
E-mail us if you would like a file on the birds we saw each day.
Carl & Wilma Ball
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