And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Mangroves. The place I tend to fear! A place I dread! It’s not because of big hungry crocodiles or deadly sea-snakes or the giant toe-cutting mud crabs that live in there, nope it’s something worse. The little invisible guys. Sandflies!

It seems I’m a walking feast for them and these little guys just love me. Classic example – my wife and I went birding for about an hour in a park near mangroves in northern Queensland. My wife’s sandfly bites were zero. Me? Well you could play join the dots and draw a whole new Richard! The bites cause me to look like some kind of leper and last about two weeks.

It’s basically the same story with mosquitoes, ticks, leeches and any other blood-loving small animal. I’m a bit concerned as my wife wants to go to South America for a holiday and they have Vampire Bats there. By the morning I’ll probably just be a dried out husk!

Anyway, here’s some pictures taken in mangroves during my trip to Broome with my cousin, and yes, he got no sandfly bites. Mine have just healed!

Broome mangroves - wonderful habitat for lots of interesting animals, but lots of nasty insects that just laugh at insect repellent. I have been told that the only thing that works to stop sandflies is covering yourself in diesel and oil. A nice mix that should keep everyone away, just make sure you don't have a mate with you who smokes!

The mangroves seemed to have armies of these mudskippers. Great to watch them displaying to each other by raising their dorsal fins. They must also be an important food source to the many birds and other animals that live there.

A young Restless Flycatcher. These flycatchers are especially common in the woodlands near mangroves or swampy areas. Birds can be very hard to see in mangroves, you usually just hear them, but during this trip I did manage to get a new lifer. A beautiful mangrove specialist, the White-breasted Whistler.

This young Dollarbird has just left the nest recently and was looking for insects at the mangroves. These birds are called Dollarbirds due to the big white spot on each wing that you can see when they fly and is suppose to look like a silver dollar.

During a long walk through the mangroves, we came across this big dead Green Turtle. On the way back past him, we saw he was still alive, probably stuck from the last high tide. He was far too heavy to move across the 100 metres of deep mud and tangled mangroves, back to the ocean. When the huge daily 11 metre high tide came in, he was gone. So hopefully he's ok out there somewhere.


NicoleB said...

Now, that's what I call mangroves. I yet have to see the 'real' ones here in South Sinai.
The two times I got close to them, there were no nasty little critters.
Maybe you should come down here?
But then again, there ain't as much beautiful wildlife like the one you show either.
I guess you have to live with the bites ;)
Cheers from Egypt & thanks for the beautiful Photos.
I've never seen a mudskipper before :)
Cheers from Egypt!

Johnny Nutcase said...

i love your little mudskipper photo, what a cool little find. The turtle is probably fine if the tide come sup that high. I've had to move a stranded one before, it took three people carrying her. She had just laid her eggs and got disoriented and started going away from the ocean. At that point she had been out of the water for hours and hours, so it was pretty cool when we got her back into the ocean :)

S.C.E. said...

Sandflies turned my legs into blood salad when I was working as a painter and decorator in Cooktown......until I bought some 'Bushman' repellent, man that stuff works.