Day 5/35 – Part 1/5

Yellow Water Sunrise Cruise

Yesterday evening I went to bed for what would become a very short night. Not alone, had I to get up at 05:15 because of a Yellow Water Cruise on the Yellow River, but there was also a very rude and loud family downstairs that yelled and screamed at each other until after midnight. I didn’t get any sleep at all. So it’s going to be a difficult day. Assholes.

Did I tell you there are ants in my room? I guess not. There are ants in my room. They are everywhere: the bathroom, my bed and sometimes I even see them walking over my clothes. They are very small, maybe only 2 millimeters long and yellow-brown. No clue what they are doing, but they are always there walking around.

When I come outside, there is a very bright night sky with lots of stars and a nice little moon with Venus next to it. Have to keep this is in mind for somewhere later this week.

Yellow River is one of the five rivers in the Kakadu delta and most probably the most beautiful. I arrive at precisely 06:16 as agreed yesterday but I am not the first one. There are at least 40 people already in the boats and all the front rows of 2 of the 3 boats are occupied. Hmmm. I don’t see the man I spoke to yesterday.

A quite unpleasant man stands at the ticket control. On my ‘Goodmorning’ I get no answer at all and when I ask whether there is a place available for me in the front of the boat because of the big telelens I am going to use (and of course because it’s the best spot), the only thing I am getting back is, ‘You’re late. You’ll have to do with what is available’. Fok. Too bad. On my question whether I can get into the third boat, of which the front row is still free, I receive an event surly ‘That one has another purpose’.

Soon it becomes clear what that ‘other purpose’ is. A man arrives with a huge video camera, just like IMAX, and soon after a family with a girl and a boy. They are filmed from all sides while they get into boat number 3. I guess it’s for a kind of promotion movie.

I sit myself on the second bench of one of the other boats. Little space here. Also there is a roof, so I can’t even look upward. Far from optimal. Well, I guess it just has to do. Nothing I can do about it now.

In front of me are two people, one of them carrying a big lens. Soon we are talking and only after a while it occurs to me that there are 3 chairs on the front row and only 2 people… So I ask whether they can move over 1 spot so that I can join them. And yep they do. Ha, so I do have a front row seat after all. The ticket man is not amused, but that is not my problem (-;

The weather is great, very calm water, some fog banks along the river, no wind, lovely temperature and the sun is about to rise. Bit difficult which lens I am going to use. I choose a wide angle one for a couple of landscape photographs. No idea what we are going to see and from how far. This could become a couple of very busy hours with lots of lens changing.

Soon, we sail away, the video vessel in front of us…

Yellow River

… and almost immediately the sun rises over right. Well timed.

Yellow River

Vessel is illuminated nicely as well.

Yellow River

It’s getting lighter fast now. By underexposing a bit I catch a nice golden silhouet with small wavelets in the water.

Yellow River

The trees on the left are standing in beautiful sunlight now.

Yellow River

Then vessel number 3 races past ours.

Yellow River

After sailing for 5 minutes we encounter the first birds. The first one, a Wedge-tailed Eagle, is still a bit far away in a tree, but nice anyway. I have to use all I am carrying to get a decent photo: 300mm with 2x teleconverter and teleflash.

Wedge-tailed Eagle

The next surprise is a White-bellied Sea Eagle, a lot closer than the previous one.

White-bellied Sea Eagle

I hadn’t expected it to be so easy. The still warm coloured sunlight together with the light of the flash to light up the feathers, delivers pretty pictures.

White-bellied Sea Eagle

Then one of my personal favorites of this trip. We pass by very slowly and I have all the time of the world to shoot about 6 photographs to perfect both exposure and composition. At the very last moment, the bird turns his head a bit to left which completes this photograph.

Great Egret

Around the corner we arrive at a place where a Blue Kingfisher has residence. For these boatmen it apparently is a sport to get as close as possible. He even puts it in reverse for it and is able to get as close as 60cm to the bird. Gives me just enough time to remove the teleconverter, otherwise I would have been without chance.

Blue Kingfisher

An Egret enjoys his backyard…

Great Egret

… and a Cormorant dries its wings a bit further.

Cormorant

Then the first Crocodile. Well, to be honest, it’s actually about the third I think, but the other photographs were all blurry. The first one that delivers a good photograph then. It’s not a big one, only 2 meters or less, but I wouldn’t like to lie next to it. They seem to be quite aggressive and cranky.

Saltwater Crocodile

A Night Heron, just like the one I saw yesterday morning. The one of mirror, mirror on the wall…

Night Heron

And again a Croc. We start seeing them more often.

Saltwater Crocodile

A nice tree here and there. The grass behind it isn’t firm ground, but a kind of floating mass of water plants. It seems to be possible to walk on top of it, but underneath it’s infested with Crocodiles.

Yellow River

This one is already a lot bigger, but is in shitty light.

Saltwater Crocodile

Yellow River

A bit further, another one. There are so many of them here. Lots of opportunities, birds, Crocodiles and a nice landscape on top of it. It takes a lot of hard work to produce the photographs though (-;

Saltwater Crocodile
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