Sunday, 27 July 2014

Australia Trip - Day Four: Casuarina Coastal Reserve

Buffalo Creek, Casuarina Coastal Reserve, NT.
Photo by Adam Archer

Following the success of the previous day we decided to head back over to Buffalo Creek for first light today. Once again, the boat ramp was jam-packed full of anglers eager to get their boats out onto the water. I would say that the chances of connecting with a Chestnut Rail at this particular location on a weekend is pretty slim to say the least. It is just far too busy.

A trio of Australian Pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus) at dawn.
Buffalo Creek, Casuarina Coastal Reserve, NT
Photo by Adam Archer

As the sun started to rise and the sand flies began to nibble we turned our attention to the beach and the ebbing tide. The creeks were heaving with Eastern Great Egrets, Intermediate Egrets and Little Egrets along with the odd Eastern Reef Heron or two. A dozen Australian Pelicans showed well just off shore but waders were in short supply with just the odd Masked Lapwing and a few Common Sandpipers. In the skies, the usual Black Kites were already on the wing interspersed with the odd Whistling Kite or two.
  
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)
Buffalo Creek, Casuarina Coastal Reserve, NT
Photo by Adam Archer

As more and more insects emerged, so did the birds that enjoyed scoffing them. There were decent numbers of both Tree Martin and White-breasted Woodswallow as well as the odd Rainbow Bee-eater crashing the party. Throughout the strip of coastal vegetation other species were on the move. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Red-winged Parrots passed through whilst Spangled Drongos and Torresian Crows notified us of their presence. We picked up our first Broad-billed Flycatchers of the trip along with the odd Lemon-bellied Flycatcher. Another male Red-headed Honeyeater was spotted as were White-gaped Honeyeater and Brown Honeyeater. Another new species for our list was Green-backed Gerygone as they moved 'warbler like' through the trees feeding away as they went.

White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus)
Buffalo Creek, Casuarina Coastal Reserve, NT
Photo by Adam Archer

We then decided to take the short ride over to Lee Point to see if we could find a shy Beach Stone-curlew before the dog-walkers descended. Unfortunately none could be located but we did have a nice consolation in the form of 3 Sooty Oystercatchers. As with Buffalo Creek there were large numbers of Tree Martin passing through and several Rainbow Bee-eaters performed well. Around the car park there were plenty of Peaceful Dove and Bar-shouldered Dove

Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus)
Lee Point, Casuarina Coastal Reserve, NT
Photo by Adam Archer

During late morning we made our way over to the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory near Darwin. Following an excellent late breakfast with Nadia's lovely family we made our way around to take a look at the exhibits. The highlight for me was 'Sweetheart', a stuffed five metre long, 750 kilogram Estuarine Crocodile who terrorised anglers in the Finniss River area of the Northern Territory during the 1970's. He was responsible for multiple attacks and had a particular dislike of outboard motors which he tended to chew off the end of boats. He was finally caught and accidentally drowned in 1979 after one of his raids went a bit too far. He pierced the aluminium hull of a fishing boat and sank it!

'Sweetheart' the monster 'saltwater crocodile''!
Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT.
Photo by Nadia Shaikh

There was also a fantastic exhibition in honour of the underrated Welsh naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace, who along with the more well known Charles Darwin was responsible for bringing the theory of evolution through natural selection to the fore. Another item of great interest was the Cyclone Tracy exhibition that brought home the devastation caused when it hit Darwin on Christmas Eve 1974. This powerful tropical cyclone killed 71 people and destroyed more than 80% of all buildings in the city and caused over $837 million worth of damage at the time.

Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca)
Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT.
Photo by Adam Archer

Swamp Tiger Butterfly (Danaus affinis)
Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT.
Photo by Adam Archer

During the evening we decided to try for a Rufous Owl down at the George Brown Botanic Gardens. We had been gripped off by a gloating Belgian birder earlier in the day at Buffalo Creek. He had been lucky enough to see one attempt to take a Orange-footed Scrubfowl just before dusk a few evenings ago near the start of the Rainforest Loop. Unfortunately we failed to see or hear one but we did finally catch up with a few Little Friarbirds and Crimson Finches

The remainder of the evening was spent soaking up the atmosphere of the Mindil Beach Sunset Market with Nadia's brother, her sister-in-law and her niece, little baby Erin. A few souvenirs were purchased and some delicious Thai food was sampled before we headed back to the apartment to pack. Tomorrow we would be making our way east to Kakadu National Park for a week in the outback.

Nadia checks out the didgeridoos!
Mindil Beach Sunset Market, Darwin, NT.

Me, getting photo-bombed by Brian!
Mindil Beach Sunset Market, Darwin, NT.

No comments:

Post a comment