The Kimberley Coast is bright, bold and big. From giant whirlpools and thundering waterfalls to the mazes of coral reefs and caves, nature certainly doesn’t do things by halves on the Kimberley Coast.
However, hidden amongst the large rocks and commanding boab trees are some of the region’s smallest residents. They may not stand out to the naked eye, but whether on land or at sea, these animals are an important part of the eco-system.
Here are five of the smallest animals on the Kimberley Coast – have your binoculars ready or you might miss them!
There’s a good chance that you’ll hear the sacred kingfisher before you see it. Known across Australia for its distinctive ‘kee kee kee’ call, sacred kingfishers are found in and around the coastal environment.
‘Found’ might be the wrong word here, as the species only reaches between 19-23 cm in length and is one of the smallest birds on the coast. If you do have your binoculars handy, look out for the sacred kingfisher’s bright turquoise back, rump and tail. You’ll have the best chance to spot them sitting in trees and on branches along the coast.
Although Blue-winged Kookaburras are reasonably small in size – around 40 cm – they sure do make a huge racket among the Kimberley bush. Often described as a “loud, maniacal, screeching cackle”, Kookaburras call in groups from high perches. They are loudest during breeding season which lasts between September and January.
Lucky for you, Kookaburras are common along the Kimberley coast, found anywhere from open woodlands, tropical forest and coastal wetlands. See if you can make out the distinctive sky-blue shoulders and dark blue rump in the trees – their noise will probably give away their position, so keep your eyes and ears peeled!
If you spot a moving shell along one of the beaches during your adventure, your eyes aren’t playing games with you – it’s just a hermit crab. There are more than 500 species of hermit crab around the world, making it one of the most common crustaceans to see.
Of course, the shell that hermit crabs use to protect their soft under-bodies is not their own as they ‘steal’ shells from other animals as they grow. Keep your eyes peeled as hermit crabs are very common along the Kimberley coast, searching shallow water for their favourite meals of small fish, invertebrates and plankton.
Australian green tree frog
Of all the animals on this list thus far, the Australian green tree frog might be the easiest to spot during your trip. Bright green in colour, the Australian green tree frog can reach around 10 cm in length.
If you explore the coastline on a daily excursion, your best chance of spotting this species is in and around trees near coastal water bodies. In fact, these frogs love to rest in hollowed out Eucalyptus trees, so it might pay to get your binoculars locked onto every Eucalypt in sight. The classic ‘crawk…crawk….crawk’ might also give away their location!
So, is it a fish or a lizard? That’s the question most people ask when they see a mudskipper on the shore of the Kimberley Coast. By definition, mudskippers are actually amphibious fish, able to skip, walk and climb out of the water.
Mudskippers have specially-designed gill chambers and skin which trap air – allowing them to breathe on land with ease. Reaching around 30 cm long, you could spot a mudskipper hunting crustaceans and other small animals around mud flats and estuaries.
If you would like to learn more about the fauna that you could see on the Kimberley coast, both big and small, get in touch with our helpful team today to start planning your Kimberley adventure!