Lorne in Sydney asked about birding in Broome during April.
I have been there 3 times in April (twice as part of the AWSG wader banding
expeditions). In total, I have been there about 16 times over the past 7
years. I have seen over 210 species there out of a list of nearly 300. I
have always seen something different every time I have been there, although
lately they are only 'Broome ticks' and not even state ticks.
It is hot, humid, rainy, cyclones, clouds of mosquitoes, bush flies, sand
flies, stingers, snakes, sharks, crocodiles (only joking!).......
No seriously, it can be, but usually the weather has broken. It will still
be warm (30 to 35), and it could rain once a week. The birding is
excellent, although I personally would prefer mid October when the birds
have just arrived, access to areas is easier because the roads are dry, and
the wetlands have shrunk to smaller sizes.
You should definitely stay at the Broome Bird Observatory (091 935 600).
The wardens are Janet Sparrow and Chris Hassell. They have airconditioned
or non-airconditioned rooms in old mining dongas, or you can camp! They
prefer that you cook for yourself, but you can organise for them to feed
you. Note the observatory keeps a daily bird log, so keep records of what
you see, where and how many. They also have a twitchers tax to help fund
new scopes, bins, other equipment, etc for people who visit and go on tours.
You might think about hiring a small 4WD in town if you want to go places,
but there is a lot of birding around the observatory and you can arrange
with the wardens to be dropped off and picked up at the places around the
town. The BBO do 2 or 3 hours tours on many days which can be worth it.
George Swann (Kimberley Birdwatching) does tours of the area, and is
available as a guide. He is expensive but he will find you the birds if
they are around.
Places to go to are :
1. Roebuck Bay in front of the BBO. Most of the waders can be seen along
the bay here at high tide including Asian Dowitcher. They will be in
breeding plumage in April. The godwits, knots and sand plovers are
stunning. A few other species can also be seen such as egrets, terns,
Lesser Frigatebird, etc.
2. Crab Creek. About 2 to 3 kms from the BBO. As high tide approaches, you
will see tens of thousands of waders streaming off the mud flats to fly
around the bay to roost. Before high tide, you can walk through the mud to
the edge of the mangroves to see the waders feeding, but it is better to
take a scope (the BBO may lend you one if you stay there). If you walk
around behind the mangroves to the left for about 10 to 15 minutes as far as
you can go on the sand, you get to the best place to see the mangrove
species. You should be able to fairly easily find White-breasted Whistler,
Broad-billed Flycatcher, Dusky Gerygone, Mangrove Fantail, Yellow White-eye,
etc. If you walk along a track into the mangroves, you should also be able
to find Mangrove Golden Whistler and possibly Collared Kingfisher. If you
have a fairly low high tide, then just before low tide you can cross Little
Crab Creek and walk through the mangroves to the edge of Big Crab Creek.
All the mangrove birds are over there also, and the Common Redshank is most
commonly found feeding along the banks.
3. Roebuck Plains behind the BBO. If you walk along the Malurus Trail down
the fence line you get to the edge of the pindan and the grass plain. When
you get to the gate, follow the track out onto the plain. As you walk back,
either return to the gate or bash your way through the grass along the edge
of the pindan until you get to the fence line. Follow the track along the
fence line to the fence corner. There is shorter grass beside the track
past this point where you can flush Brown Quail and button-quail (mostly
Little but also a chance of Red-chested and Red-backed). Out on the plain,
there are usually some flooded areas that are worth checking out, but the
mosquitoes can be appalling so take some RID. Keep an eye out for Barn
Swallows flying over. I saw my only Grey Falcon here, plus I have seen
4. Roebuck Plains. Access is only possibly with the BBO. There are lots
of good spots such as the bores, the artesian bores and plain, Lake Eda,
Lake Campion and Taylors Lagoon.
5. Roebuck Bay between Broome and the BBO. One good spot is the Quarry
Beach mangroves where you can find Red-headed Honeyeater if you walk along
the sand on the edge of the mangroves. Another good spot is 'Wader Beach'
where most of the small waders hang out and is the most likely place for
Broad-billed Sandpiper. Again a scope is nearly a must.
6. Broome Sewage Ponds. Not as good as it used to be. You also need a key
for the gate. A good chance to see Barn Swallow and Yellow Wagtail, plus a
few 'freshwater' waders. Ask the BBO for directions. The golf course next
door can also have some good birds sometimes.
7. Town Ovals. Always worth a look for Little Curlew, Oriental Plover,
Pacific Golden Plover, Yellow Wagtail, snipe, etc.
8. Broome Port. A good place at the wharf for terns and waders, plus
Darter, Brown Booby, reef egret, etc. Just before the wharf, there is a
road past the silos and the fishing club to a final parking area. This is
usually the best place for Sanderling. Also, walk into the dunes to look
for Grey-headed Honeyeater. This seems to be a 'trap' for birds on the
move, and if you are there at the right time you might find Pictorella
Mannikin, Painted Finch, Black H/E, Pied H/E, White-fronted H/E, etc.
9. Port to Cable Beach. This is a dirt road but can be good for different
species. There is a pair of Square-tailed Kites in this area, but they are
not always easy to locate. Stop along the way to check the bays. At Cable
Beach take a swim!!!!!
10. Area behind Cable Beach. It is worth while checking along the roads in
the area behind Cable Beach. There are good chances of Barn Swallow,
Dollarbird, Red-backed Kingfisher, etc and a small chance of Channel-billed
Cuckoo and other goodies.
11. Town gardens. Many gardens have Yellow-tinted H/E, White-gaped H/E,
Double-barred Finch, White-throated Gerygone, Olive-backed Oriole and
possibly Golden-backed H/E, etc.
12. Cape Leveque Road. At about the end of the bitumen, there is a dam on
the right. This is a good spot for a few bush birds including Western
Gerygone, White-throated H/E, etc.
13. Waterbank Station. Across the road from the dam is a track onto
Waterbank which has been resumed by the government. There are a couple of
excellent areas of water. Ask directions from the observatory. You will
need a 4WD.
14. Barred Creek. You will need a 4WD. The hire car company will give you
directions. This is an excellent area for mangrove species including the
Kimberley Flycatcher. There are also waders, terns, probably Beach
Stone-curlew, Lesser Frigatebirds, turtles, Red-headed H/E, Mangrove
Gerygone, remains of petrified forest, etc.
15. Willie Creek. This is before Barred Creek. I still haven't been
there, but I have heard that it can be good.
16. James Price Point, etc. These are past Barred Creek. Again, I haven't
been there but they can be worth a look.
17. Derby. This is about 230kms from Broome but well worth a visit even
just for the day. Check at the tourist bureau and ask for Pam Masters who
is a local birdwatcher. The best places to go are the port and the sewage
ponds. There is development going on at the port, so I don't know how this
has affected it. Before you get to the wharf, there is a track off to the
left to a boat ramp. The mangroves here are very good for Mangrove Robin,
Kimberley Flycatcher, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Mangrove Gerygone,
White-breasted and Mangrove Golden Whistler, etc. At the wharf look for
Collared Kingfisher, waders on the mud, etc. At the right end, there have
been sightings of Chestnut Rail and Great-billed Heron but it would be your
lucky day. The sewage ponds have a variety of waterbirds and waders. I
have seen Garganey here and Oriental Cuckoo. On the mud flats behind the
sewage ponds there is a reed bed. If you walk out to the far side, there is
shallow water which is excellent for the 'freshwater' waders such as
Long-toed Stint, Oriental Pratincole, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Australian
Spotted Crake, etc and I have seen Little Ringed Plover, Barn Swallow,
Yellow Wagtail, etc. Also there is usually a flock of Brolga and sometimes
18. Munkajarra Pool. Ask Pam Masters.
19. Derby back to Broome. There are a few places worth stopping. The
water pools near the Fitzroy River can have a few water birds. There is an
area of short grass close to one of the bridges that is the most likely
place for Oriental Plover, Oriental Pratincole, etc. As you pass through
some open eucalypt woodland, keep an eye out for Black-tailed Treecreeper
and Red-browed Pardalote.
That should keep you occupied for a week or so! Enjoy it. Broome is worth
visiting any time of the year, although the best time for waders is October
All the best
To: ; O'Connor, Frank; Frank
Subject: BIRDING BROOME
Date: Monday, 21 April, 1997 3:18PM
<<File Attachment: ENVELOPE.TXT>>
Hello. Lorne in Sydney. I may be off to Broome. Has anyone been to
Broome during April? What's it like birdwise? Is it 35 degrees celcius
mostly? Does anyone know of anyboday in Broome who can be e-mailed re.