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Thursday, June 06, 2013

To today I decided to do the next park we go to. The Nitmiluk National Park. With a name like this it ought to be amazing. Well ok so everything here has been amazing so far! lol

Nitmiluk National Park is in the Northern Territory of Australia, 244 km southeast of Darwin, around a series of gorges on the Katherine River and Edith Falls. Previously named Katherine Gorge National Park, its northern edge borders Kakadu National Park. The gorges and the surrounding landscape have great ceremonial significance to the local Jawoyn people, who are custodians of Nitmiluk National Park.

The Jawoyn people are a group of Indigenous Australians living in the Northern Territory of Australia. Their country is around the Katherine Gorge area, which they have always called Nitmiluk, which means place of cicada dreaming.

The Jawoyn are known for an unusual relationship they forged with a local mining corporation. When that corporation wanted to gain access to Jawoyn land, rather than sell the land outright, they instead negotiated to allow the company to use the land for mining. In exchange, they received a number of concessions from the mining group, including commitments towards hiring Aboriginal workers, providing scholarships, and promoting the area as a tourist and environmentalist area. In Jawoyn, Nitmiluk means "place of the cicada dreaming".

Katherine Gorge, a deep gorge carved through ancient sandstone by the Katherine River, is the central attraction of the park. Katherine Gorge is made up of thirteen gorges, with rapids and falls, and follow the Katherine River, which begins in Kakadu. During the Dry, roughly from April to October, the Katherine Gorge waters are placid in most spots and ideal for swimming and canoeing. There may be freshwater crocodiles in most parts of the river, as they nest along the banks, but they are harmless to humans.

The freshwater crocodile, also known as the Australian freshwater crocodile, Johnston's crocodile or colloquially as freshie, is a species of reptile endemic to the northern regions of Australia. Unlike their much larger Australian relative the saltwater crocodile, freshwater crocodiles are not known as man-eaters and rarely cause fatalities, although they will bite in self-defense if cornered.

The freshwater crocodile is a relatively small crocodilian. Males can grow to 2.3–3 m long, while females reach a maximum size of 2.1 m. Males commonly weigh around 70 kg, with large specimens up to 100 kg or more, against the female weight of 40 kg. In areas such as Lake Argyle and Katherine Gorge there exist a handful of confirmed 4 meters individuals. This species is shy and has a more slender snout than the dangerous saltwater crocodile. The body colour is light brown with darker bands on the body and tail — these tend to be broken up near the neck. Some individuals possess distinct bands or speckling on the snout. Body scales are relatively large, with wide, close-knit armoured plates on the back. Rounded, pebbly scales cover the flanks and outsides of the legs.



Freshwater crocodiles are found in the states of Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory. Main habitats include freshwater wetlands, billabongs, rivers and creeks. This species can live in areas where saltwater crocodiles cannot, and are known to inhabit areas above the escarpment in Kakadu National Park and in very arid and rocky conditions (such as Katherine Gorge, where they are common and are relatively safe from saltwater crocodiles during the dry season). However, they are still consistently found in low-level billabongs, living alongside the saltwater crocodiles near the tidal reaches of rivers.

They compete poorly with saltwater crocodiles; however, this species is saltwater tolerant. Adult crocodiles eat fish, birds, bats, reptiles and amphibians, although larger individuals may take prey as large as a wallaby.

Eggs are laid in holes during the Australian dry season and hatch at the beginning of the wet season. The crocodiles do not defend their nests during incubation. From one to five days prior to hatching, the young begin to call from within the eggs. This induces and synchronizes hatching in siblings and stimulates adults to open the nest. As young emerge from the nest, the adult picks them up one by one in the tip of its mouth and transports them to the water. Adults may also assist young in breaking through the egg shell by chewing or manipulating the eggs in their mouths.




Cute little baby with a huge fish in it's mouth.

Until recently, the Freshwater crocodile was common in northern Australia, especially where saltwater crocodiles are absent (such as more arid inland areas and higher elevations). In recent years, the population has dropped dramatically due to the ingestion of the invasive Cane Toad. The toad is poisonous to freshwater crocodiles, although not to saltwater crocodiles, and the toad is rampant throughout the Australian wilderness. The crocodiles are also infected by Griphobilharzia amoena, a parasitic trematode, in regions such as Darwin.

Griphobilharzia amoena is a significant trematode that infect crocodiles such as the Australian freshwater crocodile, Crocodylus johnstoni, located in Darwin, Australia with reported illness in Irian Jaya as well. They possess a distinctive tegument that is composed of two lipid bilayers instead of a single bilayer. The double bilayer may be an adaptation to survive the host’s immune response.

Trematoda is a class within the phylum Platyhelminthes that contains three groups of parasitic flatworms, commonly referred to as "flukes". These groups of parasitic worms are Cestoda, Monogenea and Trematoda. Apparently humans are able to contract these worms as well. Ewww.





Although the freshwater crocodile does not attack humans as potential prey, it can deliver a nasty bite. There have been very few incidents where people have been bitten whilst swimming with freshwater crocodiles, and others incurred during scientific study. An attack by a freshwater crocodile on a human was recorded at Barramundi Gorge (also known as Maguk) in Kakadu National Park and resulted in minor injuries; the victim managed to swim and walk away from the attack. He had apparently passed directly over the crocodile in the water. However, in general, it is still considered safe to swim with this species, so long as they are not aggravated.

Now I don't know about you but I've never known any crocodiles to be harmless to humans and especially a female with a nest of eggs. Personally I'd still stay far away from them. Also since I could contract these worms I'm really staying away from them. Odd how the Salties don't die from them though.

Saltwater crocodiles regularly enter the river during the wet season, when the water levels are very high, and are subsequently removed and returned to the lower levels at the onset of the dry season. Thus, swimming in the wet season is prohibited. Cruises of various lengths go as far as the fifth gorge.

The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), also known as saltie, estuarine or Indo-Pacific crocodile, is the largest of all living reptiles, as well as the largest terrestrial and riparian predator in the world. The males of this species can reach sizes of up to 7 m and weigh as much as 2,000 kg. However, an adult male saltwater crocodile is generally between 4.3 and 5.2 m in length and weighs 400–1,000 kg, rarely growing larger. Females are much smaller and often do not surpass 3 m. As its name implies, this crocodile can live in salt water, but usually resides in mangrove swamps, estuaries, deltas, lagoons, and lower stretches of rivers. They have the broadest distribution of any modern crocodile, ranging from the eastern coast of India, throughout most of Southeast Asia, stretching south to northern Australia, and historically ranging as far west as off the eastern coast of Africa and as far east as waters off of Japan.



The saltwater crocodile is a formidable, opportunistic, and adaptable predator capable of taking almost any animal that enters its territory. It is an apex predator which preys on a variety of fish, crustaceans, reptiles, birds and mammals, including other predators. It is an ambush predator, waiting for a suitable moment to attack. It has the strongest bite of any animal today, but its teeth are not designed to rip flesh, but to hold onto the prey item, which is an advantage that reduces the animal's chance of escape. These two properties allow the crocodile to catch and drag the animal into the water with the minimal possibility of losing its prey. Then, the prey item is swallowed whole or torn into pieces either by death roll or by sudden jerks of the head. Saltwater crocodiles are considered as the most dangerous species of crocodile to humans. Occasionally, they will attack and kill humans, although conflicts are generally one-sided in favor of humans, as this crocodilian has a highly valued hide.

Saltwater crocodiles are more territorial than other crocodilians, and are less tolerant of their own kind. Most crocodiles are social animals, sharing basking spots and food. Saltwater crocodiles do not fall into this category however, especially in the case of adult males of the species. They are extremely territorial and will fight off any intruders. The adult male will share his territory with a female. Saltwater crocodiles mate in the wet season, laying eggs in a nest made into a mound of mud and vegetation. The female guards the nest and hatchlings from predators. Conservation efforts were successful in this species, and it has recovered since the 1970s. Today, they aren't endangered in many countries. However, some populations are still at risk.

The saltwater crocodile has a wide snout compared to most crocodiles. However it has a longer muzzle than the mugger crocodile; its length is twice its width at the base. The saltwater crocodile has fewer armour plates on its neck than other crocodilians. On this species, a pair of ridges runs from the eyes along the center of the snout. The scales are oval in shape and the scutes are small compared to other species. The adult saltwater crocodile's broad body contrasts with that of most other lean crocodiles, leading to early unverified assumptions the reptile was an alligator. The head is very large. Skull lengths more than 75 cm have been confirmed for the species and mandibular length has been reported up to 98.3 cm (female skull lengths of over 50 cm are exceptional). The teeth are also long, with the largest teeth (the fourth tooth from the front on the lower jaw) having been measured to 9 cm in length. If detached from the body, the head of a very large male crocodile can reportedly scale over 200 kg alone.



Young saltwater crocodiles are pale yellow in color with black stripes and spots on their bodies and tails. This coloration lasts for several years until the crocodiles mature into adults. The colour as an adult is much darker greenish-drab, with a few lighter tan or grey areas sometimes apparent. Several color variations are known, and some adults may retain fairly pale skin, whereas others may be so dark as to appear blackish. The ventral surface is white or yellow in color on crocodiles of all ages. Stripes are present on the lower sides of their bodies, but do not extend onto their bellies. Their tails are grey with dark bands.



Newly hatched saltwater crocodiles measure about 25–30 cm long and weigh an average of 70 g. By their second year, young crocodiles will grow to 1 m long and weigh 2.5 kg. Males reach sexual maturity at around 3.3 m at around 16 years of age, while females reach sexual maturity at 2.1 m and 12–14 years of age. An adult male saltwater crocodile is normally 4.3–5.2 m long weighing 400–1,000 kg. However, large, mature males can exceed 6 m in length and weigh more than 1,000 kg. Largest living individuals can surpass 7.1 meters. Due to extensive poaching during the 20th century, such individuals are extremely rare today, as it takes a long time for the crocodiles to attain those sizes. There is also the possibility of certain genes that allowed for such big sizes being lost in the overall gene pool due to trophy hunting. However, with recent restoration of saltwater crocodile habitat and reduced poaching, numbers of large crocodiles are increasing.

Saltwater crocodiles have a strong tendency to treat humans in their territory as prey, and have a long history of attacking humans who stray into their territory. Given their power, size, and speed, survival of a direct predatory attack is unlikely if the crocodile is able to make contact. In distinct contrast to the American policy of encouraging a certain degree of habitat coexistence with alligators, the only recommended policy for dealing with saltwater crocodiles is to avoid their territory whenever possible, as they tend to be highly aggressive when encroached upon.


Move quickly!

Birds that can be seen include Ospreys, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, Great Bowerbirds, White-gaped Honeyeaters and Red-winged Parrots.

The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk, fish eagle or fish hawk, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 60 cm in length and 180 cm across the wings. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts, with a black eye patch and wings.




Dinner about to be served.

The Great Bowerbird (Chlamydera nuchalis) is a common and conspicuous resident of northern Australia, from the area around Broome across the Top End to Cape York Peninsula and as far south as Mount Isa. Favored habitat is a broad range of forest and woodland, and the margins of vine forests, monsoon forest, and mangrove swamps.



As with most members of the bowerbird family, breeding considerations dominate the lifecycle: females nest inconspicuously and raise their young alone, while the males spend most of the year building, maintaining, improving, defending, and above all displaying from their bowers. Only a male with a successful bower can attract mates.


Looking over a prospective Bower.

The Great Bowerbird is the largest of the bowerbird family and is 33 to 38 cm long and fawny grey in colour. Males have a small but conspicuous pink crest on the nape of the neck.



The male builds the largest bower of all bowerbirds. It is a twin-walled avenue-type bower approximately 1 meter long and 45 cm high. It is typically located under a shrub or leafy branch. The ends of the bower are scattered with white and green objects - stones, bones, shells and leaves and small man-made objects such as plastic and bottle caps. Within the bower itself is sometimes placed clear glass.

Uniquely among bowerbirds, groups of young males will attend a single bower concurrently, "practicing" their bower-building skills prior to establishing their own bower for mating purposes.

The Red-winged Parrot (Aprosmictus erythropterus), is a parrot native to Australia and Papua New Guinea.

The Red-winged parrot is typically about 30 to 33 cm in length. Both sexes have bright red wings and a bright green body. The male birds have a black nape, lower blue back and rump with a yellow tip on their tail, an orange bill and grey feet.


Male

The female birds on the other hand have a yellowish green body and the wings have red and pink trimmings on their wings. Also distinguishing the females are a dark iris and the lower back is a light blue color. Juveniles have orange/yellow beaks and pale brown irises, and otherwise resemble females in colouration. Males develop adult plumage at about the age of two years and females at the age of about a year and a half.



Their range is from the Pilbara, Western Australia to Cape York Peninsula, Queensland (to be seen almost all over Queensland) and as south as northeast South Australia. They are occasionally spotted in Papua New Guinea. These birds inhabit riverine forests, forest edges, acacia scrub, savanna, mangroves, and farmlands. They are seen often in pairs or flocks near water.



Part of the Yinberrie Hills Important Bird Area, identified as such by BirdLife International because of its importance for endangered Gouldian Finches, lies in the park.

The Gouldian Finch, (Erythrura gouldiae), also known as the Lady Gouldian Finch, Gould's Finch or the Rainbow Finch, is a colorful passerine bird endemic to Australia. There is strong evidence of a continuing decline, even at the best-known site near Katherine in the Northern Territory. Large numbers are bred in captivity, particularly in Australia.


Red faced Male


Red faced Female


Black faced Male


Black faced Female


I'm a baby, gotta love me!

I so want to go see some of these birds. I'm going to work on getting to an area where birds will come to by the water away from the Crocs! I'd love to see them all. After a wonderful day sightseeing and looking at all the birds I'm happy to say we missed the Crocs. Both types as far as I know. But the birds! What a wonderful sight to see them in their natural setting. I didn't get to see one of the Finches but I didn't think I would seeing as how rare they are.

Well it's time to get back to the campsite and eat dinner and go to bed.

Patty

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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
LJCANNON 6/7/2013 12:56AM

    emoticon I do not want to get close enough to ANY Gator to figure out if he is a 'Freshie" or a 'Salty'. The differences are fascinating but looking at them through the windows of the Van or on Videos is Fine with me!!
The Birds - as Usual! - were Spectacular!! I still cannot believe the Colours of them!


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SEAWILLOW 6/6/2013 3:58PM

    Beautiful pictures..that is as close to a crocodile as I want to be.

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JOANOFSPARK 6/6/2013 2:48AM

    fantastic blog......those birds are spectacular........it is just so not fair that it is the male of the species who are more brilliantly colored....
the flukes.......yuck!! I have read about the fluke worms......and I do not want to get anywhere near where they might be....gives me the shivers just thinking about them.

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EMMABE1 6/6/2013 1:37AM

    great blog - its a pity the Gouldian finch is becoming so rare in the wild now - though ,any people have them in captivity!! They are spectacular !!
That park was the last of the crocodiles - we have left their area behind now that we are heading south - but a whole different type of flora and fauna awaits!!

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