Friday, May 20, 2016

Top End ~ Part Five Chestnut Rail

We finally got it!

Chestnut Rail, Buffalo Creek, NT
But first... since the last blog, Lynn and I headed out to the Nourlangi Rock site in Kakadu and saw (briefly) a White-lined Honeyeater. We left there and went to Nawurlandja Lookout where we had gorgeous views of a Chestnut-quilled Rock-pigeon (and gorgeous views in general). We then went back over and walked about two thirds of the way into Gubara Pools, hoping for better views of the White-lined and we got them. I am grateful.

Chestnut-quilled Rock-pigeon      
Where Chestnut-quilled Rock-pigeons live.
Then we drove over to the Bark Hut Roadhouse by Mary River and stayed the night. We love it there. The family who run it now are wonderful. I even did an impromptu guest set out back for maybe a dozen people. It was a blast. I have not “performed” in months and months and it felt good and I am still pretty good at it. I may very well in the coming years finally do the pub/roadhouse tour that I have thought about for ages now. We will see.

We returned to Darwin and again started the first-light searches for the Chestnut Rail. We’d spend several hours beginning at first light searching the mangrove mud banks of known Chestnut Rail spots. We had done this four or five times (six or seven times? I lost count) with no joy. I decided we should concentrate on Buffalo Creek, as it is the most famous spot for them. For the time being, Lynn had burned-out on mangroves, midgies and mozzies and did not go Thursday morning.

I met Robert by the boat ramp and we headed off south through the mangroves along the river. He and I had gone this way the evening before. We were beginning to know the “paths” through the mangroves (and the mozzies and midgies of course) very well. But we saw no Chestnut Rails. It was about 8:30am when a guy and his girlfriend came by in a small aluminum boat. I chatted to them and described the rail and they thought they’d seen two or three. They then stopped and were chatting with Robert and I yelled to him, “Ask them if they’ll take us up there.” He asked and Pat said, “Hop in!” Pat King was the gentleman who owned the little boat with a motor that continually conked out, but continually restarted. We puttered up the river as the tide dropped further, and the sun rose higher. I did not have a lot of expectations. But less than a kilometer upstream, Robert spotted a Chestnut Rail on the mudbank. YES! We were oogling it and snapping photos and it walked out into the sun! We got incredible views and some good shots. I was (am) SO grateful! We saw at least two more and it was awesome.
The first view was the classic, skulking rail view...    
And then it got better!

This was the second rail that showed for us.

A beautiful Little Kingfisher. We saw several of these very special kingfishers along the creek

Pat is concentrating on driving the boat and Robert and I are doing Lifer Selfie for a very difficult bird.
I arranged for Pat to take Lynn and me Friday morning. I bought him a slab of beer by way of thanks. I offered petrol money, but he seemed more keen on the beer. I would gladly have paid him. Long story short, the tide was an hour higher and it took us a little while, but Lynn saw three Chestnut Rails! We heard the territorial call of a fourth, but did not see that one. I am so grateful.
Lynn on the front seat of Pat's boat just after seeing 3 different Chestnut Rails!
I’m writing this in Mataranka, NT. We are on our way south. It is so beautifully cool this evening. I will see if I can get this finished and posted. Sending love from the Northern Territory. The adventure continues and I am grateful!

Peace. Love. Birds.

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