探索发现-神秘大沼泽The Big Wet03

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the water levels will be right for the Magpie Geese to nest.
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But it the rain keeps on coming,
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their nest sites may be flooded.
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The mother crocodile is already committed.
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All she can do now is hope that her chosen nest site is high enough,
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and that the rising flood doesn't
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drown their young before they hatch.
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For the Agile Wallabies,
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the Wet is the time of greatest stress.
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Permanently saturated fur is bad enough
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but worse, it's becoming clear
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that their grazing grounds in the lowlands soon beyond the water
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But there's nothing unusual, as yet,
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about these cataracts of water pouring into the flood plains.
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If there's such a thing as an average year in the Top End,
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this could still be one.
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As one rain cloud dumps its contents onto the land,
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the next is already moving in from the ocean.
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Soon the rivers are breaking their banks,
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and sheets of water are spreading out across the plain.
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And still the rain falls.
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These ants normally live in tunnels and chambers
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they've hollowed out within the termite mound.
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The water laps ominously at the base of the crocodile's nest.
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The rain keeps on coming.
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It's early February, and the monsoon trough has
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been stationary over the north for weeks.
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The temperamental climate of the Top End,
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which the year before brought
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barely enough rain to fill the billabongs,
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has swung to the opposite extreme.
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This, it now seems certain, will be a year of the Big Wet.
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The water is racing metres deep through
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woodland that is barely flooded at all in normal years.
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Every land animal that has not sensed the Big Wet coming,
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and escaped in time to higher ground, is now in deadly danger.
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The Goanna is an expert swimmer
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but the tossing flood is tough going.
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But the Goanna's refuge may be only temporary
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the water is still rising.
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The floods drive everything into the trees,
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including Australia's least welcome immigrants.
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A feral domestic cat
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the deadliest killer of small marsupials.
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And the wild pig,
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which infests the wetlands in its tens of thousands.
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The old boar leads herd off to South with off spring
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swimming for their lives.
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The green tree ants' nest is usually far above the ground.
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Now it's in danger, too.
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A grasshopper sheds its old skin...
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But it expose at the tree tops the bright green
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and shed up is easy prey for birds.
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And this Dusky Plains Rat will be one more meal,
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when he wants it,
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for the water python already gorged on stranded prey.
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Balanced on a floating log,
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another Dusky Plains Rat is trying to survive by eating bark.
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During the Dry it lives in cracks and burrows in the warm earth.
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Wet, hungry, and with nowhere to hide from predators,
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it has not long to live.
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The baby kingfisher, swept form its nest, will surely drown.
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But there are winners, too.
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For the owl, there's a meal cowering on almost every branch.
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At last, in mid-February, the rains begin to ease,
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but the calm may be deceptive.
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In many years the monsoon trough retreats,
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only to return again laden with still more rain.
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Meanwhile, for the survivors,
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there is nothing to do but wait.
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The goanna has abandoned the trees for a more permanent refuge.
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Creatures adapted for concealment in green grass are
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all to visible on the bare rock.
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The goanna will not be short of food.
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But with the floods now lapping
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at the very walls of the escarpment,
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other creatures are in danger of starvation.
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The Narbelek is one of the smallest of
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Australia's rock wallabies.
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Unlike the goanna, it's not a refugee the crags
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of the escarpment are its permanent home.
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Normally, it feeds at night on the grasses below the escarpment.
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Now it's forced to venture out
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in daylight to browse on the sparse vegetation of the sandstone.
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As it feeds it keeps timid eyes out for predators.
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Anything without wings that's survived so far is
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trapped on islands of high ground.
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And that includes the human inhabitant of the north.
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This is Australia's National Highway One,
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which circles the continent.
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It was engineered to cope with the worst of floods.
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Now it too has fallen victim to the Big Wet.
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Here the damage is visible,
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but in the vastness of the sparsely populated Top End,
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the full cost to Australian wildlife will never be known.
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In normal times this road is the only link
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between the isolated communities
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of the empty north and north-west.
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Now they, like the wildlife around them,
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are cut off form their normal sources of supply.
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In the Kimberley,
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the little town of Fitzroy Crossing was isolated twice during
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this very heavy monsoon season.
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Throughout the north, the cost of damage to roads, fences,
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stockyards and buildings ran into millions of dollars.
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In the bush, thousands of head of cattle were lost to the floods.
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As the floodwaters slowly ebb,
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they leave exposed the death and destruction they have caused.
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The wallaby didn't make it to the high ground in time.
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The rain has almost stopped.
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The run-off from the plateau has eased.
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Through open woodland and grassy flat,
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the water races back into the rivers.
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Under a plenty of willing jaws to tie up behind
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the retreating flood
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It's mid-March, a treacherous time.
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There's still a chance that the monsoon trough will return,
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or that a cyclone will roar in from the sea.
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But meanwhile, the wetlands are swamps once again,
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and not an inland sea.
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There are Eleocharis grasses for the magpie geese to nest in,
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and at last the water levels are right.
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The goose, of course, lays the eggs
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but the gander does much of the parenting.
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He puts the finishing touches to the nest.
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He spends long periods incubating the eggs
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an anxious time, for there's still a chance
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that the returning rains will wash it all away.
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And when, thirty one days after the first egg was laid,
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the hatchlings fight their way out into the world
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it is he who guards them from predators.
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A conscientious father can make a huge difference
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to the hatchlings' chances of survival...
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...which is perhaps why often two females will share a male,
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and a nest. Each goose will have fewer chicks than
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if she had a nest to herself...
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...but these co-operative trios are perhaps such
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successful parents that it's worth the sacrifice.
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It's late March, and the monsoon season, Gudjewg,
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is giving way in the Gagadju calendar to the season of plenty
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and knock-em-down storms Bang-Gedeng.
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Washed clean and sparkling,
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the wetlands burst into flower.