Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Around Oz Part 9 - Kakadu: Nourlangie & Muirella

Barking Owl
After leaving Mardugal (see last post), we moved on to Muirella Park for our last two nights in Kakadu National Park. Again a nice camping ground - this one adjacent to the pandanus-fringed Djarradjin Billabong.

Green Pygmy Goose
An afternoon walk along the so-called Bubbu Trail was interesting, with loads of Green Pygmy-Geese among the waterfowl.

Masked Finch
Other interesting birds included three Brown Songlarks (3) in grassland, Zitting and Golden-headed Cisticolas, and the regional race of Cicadabird, while Masked Finch showed well in an area of dry grasses.

Nourlangie Rock above Bubbo Lagoon
Nourlangie Rock looked magnificent as it towered over the wetlands in the late afternoon. However, there is much to be desired about the management of this and other areas of Kakadu National Park. The Bubbu Trail was allegedly closed due to seasonal conditions, but it has simply not been maintained for several years; we had to turn back half-way because we were getting lost. We saw similar things elsewhere in the park: outstanding walking trails were unattended and overgrown.

Nourlangie Rock
One morning we drove to Nourlangie Rock where we did the short hiking circuit as well as a detour up one of the better vegetated gullies. 

Arnhem Land escarpment from Nourlangie

Aboriginal rock art, Nourlangie
Plenty of Aboriginal rock art and lovely views over the sandstone escarpment of Arnhem Land at this popular tourist spot; Nourlangie is actually an outlier of the main sandstone plateau.

Helmeted (Sandstone) Friarbird

White-lined Honeyeater
White-lined Honeyeater and the endemic race of Helmeted (Sandstone) Friarbird were seen, along with a lovely Black Wallaroo.  I was last at Nourlangie Rock in 1972, when I camped for a week by myself in a cave, with Aboriginal bones laid many years ago on rock ledges near the roof of the cave. So having seen all the regional endemic birds on that and other trips to Kakadu, this visit was more relaxed.

Nourlangie Rock above Andangbang Billabong
We visited Nourlandja Lookout and another, smaller sandstone outlier, before walking around Andangbang Billabong. Again, Nourlangie was an impressive backdrop to wetlands.

Barking Owl
Late in the afternoon, back at Muirella, I called in a highly excited pair of Barking Owls in broad daylight with a little playback. We heard them often at night, along with Bush Stone-Curlew, Dingo, and a roaring Saltwater Crocodile in the billabong. For a full list of birds at Muirella, see here.

Yellow Oriole

Paperbark Flycatcher
Yellow Oriole and Paperbark Flycatcher proved to be common on a final morning stroll on the Bubbu Trail. 

Broad-billed Flycatcher
 On our last day in the park we visited Mamakala Bird Hide, finding Broad-billed Flycatcher in the paperpark forest near the billabong. This species and Shining Flycatcher are restricted to mangroves in eastern Queensland; here they are widespread in woodlands near fresh water. We passed a huge snake roadside - almost certainly a Taipan - which had been disturbed by passing vehicles and reared up to strike our car as we slowed down.... unfortunately it slithered away before the camera was out.

5m saltwater crocodile on south alligator river

South Alligator River
We stopped by the South Alligator River before departing Kakadu National Park via the Arnhem Highway. We saw 5 Saltwater Crocodiles on the muddy bank along the river, which seemed to have large crocodile skid marks in the mud every few metres. One crocodile we saw was huge: about 5 metres.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like an amazing trip! Funny how someplace within the borders of your own country can seem so exotic...