Friday, December 17, 2010

Face To Face?

My time in croc country was quickly coming to a close and I had yet to see the world's largest reptile. I had seen plenty of signs, warnings, and even an imprint--but no sightings of the elusive animal.It was for this reason that we broke up camp at 4:30 am in the pitch dark. I energetically encouraged Mark to hurry up, since I didn't want to miss the boat. I anxiously anticipated that our trip along the Yellow Water Billabong would finally put an end to my quest to spot one of the terrors of the north. Unfortunately, the tour operator had assured us a unique experience--lots for birds and magnificent flora--but could not guarantee a face to face encounter with the ferocious giants.
Along with several dozen other bleary eyed travelers we stood in line to board the bus that would take us to the boat ramp. It appeared that most of our fellow passengers had spent the night in the lodge or taken a morning shower since they frantically swatted at the millions of mosquitos that descended upon us. Fortunately, in the predawn hours, we had used plenty of Off before we even left the tent. As a result it was the first time in 12 hours the pesky bugs were ignoring us--they had plenty of other sources to quench their bloody thirst.
The short road to the dock remained flooded--the remnants of a wet season that had extended well beyond its normal period. I couldn't help but wonder if the high waters would increase our chances of seeing a croc. Just as we boarded the boat the sun began to make itself visible on the horizon. As it made its gradual climb in the sky it brushed the grey canvas with various shades of reds, yellows and oranges.

As promised our cruise through Kakadu's most famous wetland, Yellow Water Billabong, was fruitful-- White Bellied Sea Eagle, Australian Darter, Ibis, Kingfisher, Kingfisher, Whistling Ducks, Jacana, and Jabiru were all spotted. The sing song of the different species of birds added a musical symphony to the painted landscape that lay before us--a work of art only achievable by mother nature.
Of course, for me the highlight of the trip was the sighting of several crocs. The first one was a very large male who became agro and began swatting the water as we approached. Even from a distance I was amazed by his size  and happy that we hadn't run into him on the trail. Just before we turned around and headed back to the docks a spiny back broke the lagoon surface just in front of us; he was lovely enough to hang around for some photo ops. 

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