Windjana Gorge

Next we headed to Windjana Gorge but not before seeing our first dressed termite mound in Western Australia. I thought this was quite a nicely dressed one too. Almost too nice. I thought the shirt might look good on Steve!

termite man on the gibb river rd
Very exciting to see the first dressed termite mound in Western Australia

 

view to march fly creek
A beautiful view from the Gibb River Road over the not so beautifully named “March fly Creek”  

Windjana Gorge cuts through a 300 million year old limestone reef.    It’s towering rocky walls border a sandy creek bed that normally contains many pools of water that are home to what is probably the largest concentration of freshwater crocodiles in the country.   When we were there, the river bed had been reduced to just 3 pools due to the preceding poor wet season.   In contrast when we visited 16 years ago, there were numerous pools all the way up the gorge.   Of the 3 remaining pools (and one tiny puddle) – two were teeming with crocodiles, especially the first one where I counted over 120 crocks.

winjana panorama
Windjana Gorge panorama – just upstream from the first pool
winjana jabiru
The second pool was pretty small and it appeared that the crocs had already abandoned this one.
intermediate egret
Intermediate Egret at the third pool
brush cuckoo
Brush cuckoo
winjana entrance
The narrow entry to Windjana Gorge
fossil in the devonian reef winjana
A fossil of a sea creature in the wall
devonian black kites
Black kites on the jagged limestone cliffs on the upper walls of the gorge 
winjana flying foxes
Thousands of fruit bats roosted along the upper reaches of the gorge.  In the late evening, these bats flew down the gorge and out to forage, swooping down on the pools to drink along the way.   As they do this, the crocodiles try to grab them.    Although I sat to watch this spectacle, it happened when it was almost dark, so it was more a matter of listening to the spectacle than watching it.  While I did manage to see one silhouette of a crocodile jumping up at a bat in a small section of the pool where the light from the entrance to the gorge reflected on the water, most of the time I was simply listening to the thrashing noises as they jumped from the water so I have no idea as to how successful the crocodiles.
black bittern
While I saw no new birds in Mornington (despite its reputation for birds), I saw two new species of bird in Windjana Gorge:  this Black Bittern, with one of the many freshwater crocodiles, and a Green-backed Gerygone
winjana morning walk
Early morning bird walk with the tiny puddle on the right – normally there are pools all along and it is not possible to walk up the riverbed itself.
winjana freshie
Keeping dead still and waiting for bats
winjana night time croceyes
Each white dot is a crocodile eye – about 35 in this photo alone.   To see how small a bit of the pool that this photo covers, note the bit of driftwood at the back that can be compared in the daylight photo a bit further down

short eared rock wallaby

A short eared rock wallaby next to the entrance of the gorge

bam bel lam
Despite the crocs doing their best to catch bats, the black bittern did not get caught in the cross-fire and was still around the next morning.
winjana morning
The first (main) pool at Windjana Gorge.   I counted 120 crocodiles in this section of the pool the previous night and there were probably another 80 or more in the section that winds back behind me.  S 
crocadoteril
This one just smiled as the Dotterel ran all around it!
squashed croc
Big ones didn’t seem to mind other big ones sitting on top of them but smaller ones stayed right away from the big ones. I guess when your pool is shrinking and your food is running out…..
cosy crocs winjana gorge
Windjana gorge is the place in Australia you are likely to see the highest concentration of freshwater crocodiles. They are so used to people coming (too) close and staring at them that they don’t get a fright and swim away as is the norm with these guys.
croc soup winjana gorge
There were hundreds here and in ever shrinking pools of water. There was half as much water in the gorge from our trip 16 yrs ago.

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