Bird Week @ Broome

To: "Messages Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Bird Week @ Broome
From: "Bob Forsyth" <>
Date: Sun, 5 Oct 2003 17:08:31 +1000
g'day all,
I recently drove the 2540km over to the west coast to participate in the 5 day Bird week at the Broome Bird Observatory
It was well worth the trip (in spite of the 680km gravel road shortcut from Dunmarra N.T. to Halls Creek W.A. via Top Springs N.T.)
Warden Joy Tansey and assistants Emma, Inka and Megan took us to the main locations in the Broome area. They made sure we all got good views of 147species. (& I got another 3 with two fellow Bird Week participants just before they left for the airport ) No way could I have found the local specials by myself in the available time. The catering was excellent. As a bonus we were able to see banders Perry & Alma de Reberia from Perth in action.
The number of participants was fewer than I expected, especially now that Virgin are servicing Broome. I can thoroughly recommend the Birdweek but expect some very full days. We frequently started soon after the 5.15am dawn and one evening after dinner we did a night spotlighting drive. And two gluttons for punishment left immediately to join tour leader George Swann for the Kimberley bird specials.
The memory of being lead through 35cm of gooey grey mud to get to the Redshank viewing location will stay with me for ever. Believe it or not, but the Bird of the week was a roosting Barking Owl ... in spite of seeing the Redshank, Beach Stone-curlew, Lesser Frigate-bird, Asian DowitcherDusky Gerygone, Mangrove Gerygone, Broad-billed Flycatcher & 100s of Little Curlews. Not forgetting the Oriental Plovers leading Laurie Living's wish list and all the expected Shorebirds.
One of the many Jabirus on the mud flats playing around with a Sea Snake was of interest to us all.
Unfortunately major reconstruction of the Broome Sewage Ponds is in progress so we had to to look through the fence at the birds which included several 1000 Plumed Whistling-ducks. But the 5 Barn Swallows present gave me a tick.
Broome (permanent pop 14000) is now the Port Douglas of the West coast and unrecognisable from my first visit +40 years ago.
They even have a man following the tourist camels at Cable Beach with a brush & pan !  At night the last Camel has a flashing red tail-light !!
I also visited the Derby Sewage Ponds which has a newly constructed architect designed reed-filled overflow ponds where I got reasonable photos of an Oriental Plover.The main ponds have a high observation platform. Top marks to Derby Council !
The overflow from the Cattle trough next the big Boab prison tree on the Derby road kept me occupied for 2 hours.
By coincidence I missed meeting Jonny Schoenjahn (Birdwatching Aficionados) of Broome who was in Mount Isa the day the Birdweek started.
What I did learn was that Waders do not return to the northern hemisphere breeding grounds in their 1st year. Thus waders are viewable all year at Broome. This is different from my inland home where 4 species have only recently appeared.

Bob Forsyth, Mount Isa, NW Qld.
ps On my return back at the Isa I heard my 1st Common Koel for the season
For more Broome information see ...
Frank O'Connor's "Broome Birding Sites
Frank O'Connor's "Derby Birding Sites
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