Broome Observatory ......

Subject: Broome Observatory ......
From: Andrew Taylor <>
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 14:32:17 +1100 (EST)
> Sid and Sharon Genaux <> wrote:
> We will be in Broome tomorrow and stay at the Bird
> Observatory for 4 days. I don't know if we will stick
> around for any time after that but we might? to do
> some touristy stuff like check out the pearl fishery
> museum, etc. For some reason, Sid wants to go to Cable Beach. 

I made an accidental visit to Broome in July- the only way to return from
Darwin to Sydney using frequent flyer points was via a 5 day stopover
in Broome.  My partner insisted on staying at a Cable Beach resort.
OK if you like resorts, but not so conveniently located for birding.

I wanted to see mangrove species.  Frank O'Connor's web page has has good site
descriptions but I didn't have a car.  No mangroves at Cable Beach but
there are a bus ride away in Broome itself.

In Chinatown there is limited access to the mangroves near Streeter's
Jetty.  I saw Red-headed Honeyeater, Yellow White-eye and Mangrove
Grey  Fantail and heard what I presume was Kimberley Flycatcher -
a better prepared person would have purchased and listened to David
Stewart's CD of Broome birds (available at BBO).

I then tried a dusty track near the shopping centre leading north from
Chapple? St into the mangroves - hopefully  this isn't trespassing.
A narrow path then winds through the mangroves for ~200m to the edge of
a creek.  I saw nothing except crabs and mudskippers until just before
the mangroves thinned and reduced in height near the creek.

In one spot in 5 minutes I saw Dusky Gerygone, Mangrove Golden Whistler,
White-breasted Whistler, Yellow White-eye, Broad-billed Flycatcher and
Mangrove Grey Fantail.  All within 1-3 metres - the Dusky Gerygones
were so close I could make out their white eyes without binoculars.
The brilliant red fiddler crabs were quite something too.  The trail is
*very* muddy and may not be passable/wise near high tide.

BBO runs daily 2-3 hours trips and they'll pick you up from Cable Beach
so I joined their waders trip.  Most of the other participants to be
novices - my wader skills are rusty may be I don't need Turnstones and
Tattler's pointed out.  But it was well run  and I  learned quite a bit
from the guide, particularly about Roebuck Bay generally.  Maybe 5000
waders from 7 species - not bad  for the midddle of winter - but the
definite highlight was good telescope views of an Asian Dowitcher.

The nice people at BBO gave me a location for Yellow Chat on Roebuck
Plains behind Crab Creek (get a map and  directions from them).  I rented
a 4wd in Broome for the day to out to Crab Creek.  It was then a 2-3
km walk on the plains - not far but hard going - sticky mud, water and
tangled low vegetation - basically where salt marsh intergrades into
seasonal brackish/freshwater wetlands.  I found the Yellow Chat only
because its call had been described to me and then only managed distant
views of single male.

Definitely an interesting place - the patches of water had large flocks
of Egrets, several Storks and a small flock of Brolga.  Oddly I could
find no vertebrate life in the clear shallow water - so I've no idea
what they could be feeding on.  Also spent 20+ minutes beside a tiny
saltwater channel watching mudskipper behaviour.  If you sit still for
5 minutes they forget about you and go back to neighbourhood disputes
and the other stuff of mudskipper life.

The Yellow Chat was new for me and the Asian Dowitcher as good as new
but I also dipped embarassingly on this trip.  We were in Darwin for a
wedding and the morning before was free.  I had Niven McCrie's description
( of where to look for Rufous
Owl's in the Botanic Garden.  My plan was that Tom & Zoe (18 months &
4 years old) would entertain themselves while I scanned nearby trees
for Rufous Owls.  However the gardens were full of people and Tom &
Zoe weren't cooperative so I gave up on the plan and we headed for some
playground equipment where they played and I photographed them.

Sometime later I read on birding-aus an NT trip report from Alan Morris.
He saw 3 Rufous Owls about a week later roosting above this playground
equipment and, thinking back, I never bothered to search these trees.
I have a horrible feeling that if I'd just looked up I would seen a
Rufous Owl.

Andrew Taylor

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