Friday, October 31, 2008

Watch for crocs, find crakes

Ventured into crocodile country today, at the Macknade revegetation area along a major creek and billabong system close to Halifax and the Herbert River. Tyto's croc warning is mainly for show (though we did have a two-metre inhabitant for a while) and to cover the shire's behind, but things are different nearer the Herbert.

Once (as I've been) five metres away from a three-metre salty (with bit of tail missing!) hauled up on a sandy tongue leading into waist-deep water full of blue and deep red lotuses (and, sadly, Hymenachne) the size and danger is clear. Much bigger crocs have been seen in a deeper stretch of water. All this on both sides of a major Ingham-Halifax-Lucinda road and about 150 metres from the local pub.

Since the revege area is surrounded by sugar cane, the place must have its share of snakes - Browns, Taipans, Red-bellied Blacks heading the danger list - though I've seen very few. And snakes don't stalk us. Or eat us. Crocs do.

I walk through the knee-high grass with a wee tingle pinging on the senses. I want to see crocs, but not if they see me first - from up close. Only sign today was a days-old track of flattened grass on a narrow finger of land between two channels.
So, no crocs, but did get lucky with the sighting of two young White-browed Crakes (Porzana cinerea) and a parent bird, which snatched something large, whitish and leggy out of the weeds. Though it looks like a frog, the prey refuses to resolve itself no matter how I squint at pixilated enlargements. The legs wrapped around the bird's lower bill just don't look froggy.
The juveniles darted from cover to cover, as they always do, making it impossible to obtain any clear shots. Rather a satisfying encounter, all the same. And unexpected here at this time of year. No sign at Tyto of breeding. Two guide books offer 'most months' or 'Sept-Apr' on breeding. Dec-Mar is closer to my experience in the wetlands.


mick said...

Your walk sounds interesting but definitely not relaxing with the possibility of crocs. Very nice photos of the Crakes which would not be easy to photograph in that habitat.

Mosura said...

Great pics. Hope you get some croc pics preferably but not from the inside.

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