Seasonal rhythms & encounters

BAMURRU'S NATURE CALENDAR

Up here in the Top End, nature is cinematic. Get amongst it.

As with everything in nature, nothing is scripted and sighting variations is where magic happens. This nature calendar barely touches the sides of what you’ll come across on your Wild Bush Luxury experience with us at Bamurru Plains. It’s intended to serve as a good guide on just some of the species you might encounter. There are invariably a great many more! We are forever in awe of nature’s boundlessness. 

SAFARI WITH AUTUMN

AT BAMURRU PLAINS
  • BIRDS
  • Magpie Geese are nesting in staggering numbers throughout this period. They begin by flattening out large patches of reeds to make perfectly rounded nests on top of the floodplain usually cradling between 5 & 9 eggs. Black-necked Storks probe through the water with their large bill feeding on fish. As they are a very large bird, more than 4 feet, they need to start their flight with 2 or 3 running jumps to get airborne & fly with slow flaps of the wings soaring as high as several hundred meters! You won't miss the Plumed-whistling Ducks. They are a vocal bunch that you will hear get louder & louder as you approach & will take off in a large flock filling the sky. White-bellied Sea-Eagles are skilled hunters & will attack prey up to the size of a Magpie Goose. Their wingspan can range from 1.8m - 2.2m. Young Sea-Eagles are motley brown, then slowly begin to resemble adults in a patchwork manner, acquiring the complete adult plumage by their fourth year. Like most of us, the adorable Comb-crested Jacanas enjoy a good sunbathing & can be seen lying on their side on top of a lily pad & good colonies of darters, cormorants and Rufous Night herons inhabit the paperbarks.
  • MAMMALS
  • Watching the young Agile Wallaby joeys learn to hop can provide hours of entertainment, but some fast learning is required as Dingos breed in this period and are often on the hunt from some slow learners.
  • FLORA
  • The bush is bursting with colour and Water Lilies blanket the wetlands with white & blue flowers. Flooded paperbark swamps are particularly beautiful & Lotus Lillies & Giant Water Lilies are at their best. These incredible plants support the entire floodplain system providing shelter under their leaves, petals and root systems. Not content on just being pretty, these flowers have a multitude of uses like grinding the roots & seeds into flour & keeping food fresh in the leaves. Take in their wonderful scent as you cruise around the floodplain on the lookout for delicate white and yellow Snowflake Lily flowers. There's a lot of insects in the air at this time of year with Rainbow Bee-eaters catching them on the fly.
  • MARINE & REPTILES
  • A time of year when you get some final boom & bust storm outbursts. This is when the floodplain is at its busiest with the flow off of floodwaters into the rivers, creating a fishing bonanza with predator species (saltwater crocodiles, barramundi, salmon catfish) feeding off species heading out of the channels from the floodplain. Schools of Pop-eye Mullet are common and are a major prey source. When open, the frill on the Frill-necked Lizard is brightly coloured with orange and yellow which is a startling defence mechanism and it is also used during social and mating displays.

SAFARI WITH WINTER

AT BAMURRU PLAINS
  • BIRDS
  • This is the time of rebirth on the floodplain as the Black-necked Storks have their chicks which are soon indistinguishable from their parents. The hatched Magpie Geese can be seen running across the floodplain as they learn to fly. Brown falcons are regular sightings & the floodplain is blanketed in white as Australian Pelicans and Little Corellas arrive in their hundreds. Look to the closest Eucalyptus tree to see the Little Corella’s chase & wrestle each other for a bit of fun. Chestnut Rails can be seen in the mangroves & Red-tailed Black Cockatoos will nest in tree hollows anywhere from 2m up to 30m above the ground. They will chew the inside of the hollow, making a layer of wood chips where the female will lay a single white egg, sometimes two.
  • MAMMALS
  • August is the breeding time for many mammals & hundreds of water buffaloes visit Bamurru Plains every day, making well-trodden paths through the floodplain to their favourite feeding spots (often right in front of the pool) and mud baths. You won't want to miss their daily procession back into the woodland for a safe nights sleep.
  • FLORA
  • Stringybarks are flowering & twisting Spiral Pandanus are ever-present around the safari lodge. You'll get an uninterrupted view of the poolside. Interestingly, you can tell the difference between male & female plants from the direction of their spiral. On the floodplain, there are carpets of yellow lilies on the fringes as waters recede. Turkey Bush colours the savannah landscape pink with tiny densely packed leaves and fine-haired flowers. The flowers make an effective natural insect repellent & the leaves and flowers can also be mixed with hot water to create a liniment for sore muscles. The timber is excellent firewood and is also used to craft clapsticks, woomeras and prongs for spears. Other plants include Acacia trees with pale yellow spiky flowers, Red Flowered Kurrajongs which produce a bell-shaped flower and the Coral Bat Wing which flowers with a vibrant scarlet, orange and red pea-like flower. Pandanus begins to produce large seed pods which turn bright orange as they ripen and are a favourite food of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.
  • MARINE & REPTILES
  • There are no alarm clocks at Bamurru Plains, but why would you need one when you’ll awake to the gentle call of frogs in the woodlands and on the floodplain. If their calls abruptly stop it could be that they had been hunted by an Olive Python which typically mates during this period.

SAFARI WITH SPRING

AT BAMURRU PLAINS
  • BIRDS
  • As the dry season has been going for some time now it has created specific zones of water concentration, where birdlife congregates in extraordinary numbers rarely seen elsewhere in Australia. This is a time of year when you can see over 10 raptor species in a day. White-necked Herons & White-browed Robins start breeding along the rivers. Brolgas strut their dramatic courtship display. It's no wonder first nations people dedicate a dance to it. Great-billed Herons are a special one to see. They are very shy, solitary and their call is a deep prolonged, resonant, guttural roar that sounds similar to thunder! Australian Pratincoles & other migratory species appear at this time of year while Australian Bustards are attracted by late-season fires as are kites & falcons. Not all doves look as superb as the Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove! Sporting a pink forehead & a colourful belly of greens, yellows & pinks.
  • MAMMALS
  • Water is a precious resource during the dry season and when the floodplain shrinks into concentrated areas it draws wildlife to it, including the wild brumbies that roam the Top End year-round. In this hot environment conserving energy and resources is incredibly important so rather than wandering for long distances the brumbies, water buffalo’s and agile wallabies instead prefer to stay close to a water trough located close to the lodge. This artificial watering hole creates its pecking order from tallest to shortest which creates some interesting situations as the brumbies, the tallest and bossiest of the bunch, push the other animals around to get their share of the water.
  • FLORA
  • The flowers on our cyclone-resistant Milkwood trees are a favourite perch for egg-cracking Black-breasted Buzzards and honeyeaters make regular appearances too. Red flowers of the Northern Kurrajong are particular features of the woodlands & when Cocky Apples blossom we know that flying insects are incoming. Their flowers bring in moths and bats at night & they are often used as sentinels to protect the booming mango industry. The elliptical looking Banyan Figs produce vast crops that sustain many feathery friends and mangroves along the Sampan Creek system do heavy lifting in reducing bank erosion and providing a safe harbour from predation.
  • MARINE & REPTILES
  • Saltwater Crocodiles are the world's largest living reptile with the strongest recorded bite of any animal in the world. They are extremely stealthy prehistoric creatures that will remain unseen using the minimum exposure posture. This posture of crocodiles allows the bulk of the body to remain unseen underwater while only the nostrils, cranial platform, eyes and ears remain above the surface. You might be lucky & see a Yellow-spotted Monitor standing up on its hind legs as it does when threatened or to get a better look at its environment, supporting itself with its tail.

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