April 7 - Fogg Dam

There are termite mounds all over the place here. In the forests, on the grassy open areas, on the roadside. As well, these tiny denizens of the tropics are just everywhere. Most of them are ant-sized. There's even one group that are known locally as the "Magnetic Termites" because their mounds are thin and flat, pointing due north. It seems the termites have figured out that this creates optimal temperature control under the blazing tropical sun. The Western side of the mound is shaded for the first half of the day and the Eastern side is shaded in the afternoon. Brilliant.

We have seen a few candidate vertebrates for leech-prey. We really don't know what the terrestrial leeches normally are feeding on. Presumably if they'll feed on us, they'll feed on roos, but there are many more leeches (not here, alas) than could be sustained by the few mammals in the forests. We're guessing that the smaller ones in particular are feeding on other animals, much as they do on other continents. In the coastal Northern territory there's certainly no shortage of small lizards scampering about. And we have seen a few frogs and toads. Unfortunately, the invasive Caribbean Cane Toad has made its way here posing a threat to the native small vertebrates in the forests.

Fogg Dam, while beautiful, was off limits. The recent rains had driven the water levels so high that the croc-infested marsh was lapping right up to the top of the emabankment. Fogg Dam is home to innumerable salties. With an ability to lunge straight up out of the water to a height of 8 feet or so, we were not going to get anywhere near the water's edge.

It looks like that's it for the Top End of Oz. We're going to explore the "city" of Darwin this afternoon. That should only take about 15 minutes!