The 2004 Broome/Ashmore
Reef/Broome expedition from 24-31 October, organised by Kimberley Birdwatching
was attended by Peter Barrand, Richard Baxter, Simon Mustoe, Rory O’Brien, Mark
Taylor, George Swann and Mike Carter.
Two full days were spent
at Ashmore Reef. We went ashore on West Island on five occasions
during 27-29 October, each visit adding another exciting vagrant. Although restricted to observations from
a dinghy at the shoreline, our two visits to Middle Island were spectacular due
to the hordes of breeding seabirds and migrant waders. We also visited a sandbar
between Middle & East Islands where thousands of waders were roosting at
high tide. Enroute we moored overnight at Scott Reef and made a brief landing.
We returned directly to Broome electing to spend an extra day at Ashmore rather
than visit the Lacepedes.
Thus most of six days
were spent at sea aboard the 19.63m topsail schooner ‘The Willie’. Conditions
were exceptionally placid so for the most part it was a pleasant ride but the
cloudless skies, relentless sun, heat and humidity were taxing. Air-conditioning
will be installed before next year’s expedition!
Seventy species of bird were
recorded, including several rarities and others of great significance.
highlights on West Island were:
Island Monarch. A
juv. on 28th. This species is widespread on small islands throughout
Wallacea and New Guinea but has not previously been recorded in Australia.
Warbler. 2 on 29th.
Arctic Warbler. 1-2
Grey Wagtail. 1,
27-29th. Definitely ‘vessel’ assisted! See separate posting.
Oriental Cuckoo. Up
to 12, 27-29th.
Common (Australian) Koel. 1
sub-adult male on 27th.
highlight was an Asian Dowitcher on the sandbar.
The usual local tropical
Seabirds, Red-tailed & White-tailed Tropicbirds, Masked,
Red-footed & Brown Boobies, Great & Lesser Frigatebirds, Common &
Black Noddies, Bridled, Sooty, Crested & Little Terns were present on the
reef (many breeding). Most of these were also seen at sea where in addition we
counted over 700 Roseate Terns nearer Broome.
Migrant Seabirds of
note included: 21 Tahiti Petrels, 38 Bulwer’s Petrels, 2
Jouanin’s Petrels, 330 Streaked Shearwaters, 4 Hutton’s
Shearwaters, 48 Wilson’s Storm-Petrels, 1+ Leach’s Storm-Petrel, 20
Matsudaira’s Storm-Petrels, 7 Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrels and 1
each Pomarine, Arctic & Long-tailed Jaeger.
Unidentified birds include a
possible Audubon’s Shearwater and a species of Starling not previously recorded
in Australia. The latter flew towards our yacht while moored at Scott Reef. Our
shouts and rush to greet it caused it to make a ‘U’ turn for the mainland! It
appeared all-dark without any significant patterning.
Cetaceans were Indo-Pacific
Humpback Dolphin, Rough-toothed Dolphin, Long-snouted Spinner Dolphin, Beaked
Whale sp? and a possible Minke Whale.
Leatherbacked, Green, Flatback & Loggerhead Turtles and over four species of
A detailed preliminary
report with photos produced by Simon Mustoe will shortly be available at
Persons interested in future
trips please contact Kimberley Birdwatching or myself.