This is a post for the nature nerds. The animal lovers and the wildlife watchers. My nickname when I was younger was veterinary as I could never help adopting a stray here and there, wading into a pond to check out the wildlife or growing my own vast collection of rabbits - seriously I had a load. I tell you this story because I can't impress on you otherwise how much I loved the abundance of nature in the top end. I am a complete animal nut and everywhere I looked there was something new to see. It was incredible. Even driving through the outback towns, wedge tailed eagles would swoop through the sky. Along the stretching red roads, wild horses would race beside you. The wildlife in the top end was yet another thing to make my experience unique.
Traveling towards Kakadu, we stopped at the Corroboree Billabong for a wetland cruise. I was unsure of what to expect, as I hadn't seen any of the wetlands up to that point. I was excited to get in the boat, there was promises of crocodiles...
Crocodile number 1. Just sitting there minding his own business. Even though I was just sitting in a boat I felt all jittery with excitement. Seeing crocs in the wild is quite exhilarating.
Whilst our guide had a sharp eye for spotting crocs and a wealth of knowledge to boot, she also knew a hell of a lot about bird life. The birds in the top end are amazing. Such a variety of species and so foreign compared to the birds of the UK. Below are Wandering Whistling Ducks.
They're not traditional whistlers, instead when they take off their wings sing to you. Or whistle, which is where they get their name.
The billabong is amass with lilies and pads. These were introduced by Asian traders looking to trade with the aboriginal people. Now they dominate the billabong.
Meet the Little Pied Cormorant, on of Australia's most common waterbirds. Posing quite nicely here, isn't he.
Another waterbird, the Pied Heron. Who sat very calmly and watched us pass.
One of my favourite NT birds, the White Bellied Sea Eagle. He looked magnificent perched above the billabong. In this shot he was actually looking over to his mate, who was in an opposite tree. White Bellied Sea Eagles are monogamous birds and stay with the one mate, until it dies.
Meet the Darter, drying its wings out in the sun.
Perhaps one of the more comical looking birds with its long snake like neck and tendency to stare accusingly at the boat cruising through.
Here is a pair (and another on the left coming in on the action) of Comb Crested Jacans, who were having a particularly feisty moment as we cruised past. Pictured below are two males fighting, shortly after this they tried to drown each other, but each to no avail.
Looking slightly more peaceful here.
One of the most impressive birds I've ever seen, the Jabiru. A huge stork with an impressive blue neck that catches the sunlight.
Magnificent, but a little menacing. Very impressive in flight too, as the bird is so large.
A few more crocodile spots and our short hour on the billabong was up.
Safely off, all limbs in tact.
You could easily spend a few hours out on the Corroboree Billabong, spotting different animals and trying to capture it all. We saw so many species that I couldn't capture, including two wickedly fast kingfishers. It was a massive treat to be introduced to the Top End wildlife. I particularly enjoyed this wetland cruise as it was simple observation of nature, no provocation of crocodiles for tourist enjoyment and no disturbing the natural habitat. If you ever go, you can't miss a wetland cruise. Even if you're not a wildlife fan, you can't help but be amazed at the incredible nature of the Top End.
Oh and a very quick thank you to Birdlife.org.au for helping me identify most of the birds in this post!