Asian Dowitchers in Broome

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Asian Dowitchers in Broome
From: "Ricki Coughlan" <>
Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2005 05:40:31 +1100
Hi Birders
The annual migration of the waders commenced last week, with many Eastern Curlews now making their way north to Siberia. They gather each evening and are extremely vocal and then, once the stars come out, they depart in numbers of around 20 or 30 at a time, flying directly over the Broome Bird Observatory. Amazingly, they will arrive at their first stop in three days: the Yellow Sea, where our friends enjoy a brief Chinese meal and a snooze or two before continuing on to their breeding grounds. If watching this magic take place doesn't give you goosebumps and bring a tear to your eye, then you're not a nature lover.
We're awaiting the departure of the Great Knots too at the moment, but none appear to have left so far. In truth, they are all looking so fat now that I feel they'll need to go on a diet before attempting to depart! (jokes aside, this sometimes actually does happen!)
All along Roebuck Bay, tens of thousands of waders are gathered in their stunning breeding plumage, creating a most festive sight. However, the increasing abundance of Asian Dowitchers has also created excitement for us, with sightings on every outing to the bay of late. Broad-billed Sandpipers remain quite common, as do Lesser Sand Plovers, which are looking totally gorgeous in their breeding finery.
Off the beaches, I've had sighting of Pied Honeyeaters, another extreme rarity for Broome; the Spiney-cheeked Honeyeater (only third sighting for Broome) and even Budgerigars. We've also had reports of Black Honeyeaters, Pictorella Mannikins and Banded Honeyeaters. Sightings of Red-rumped Swallows also continue. With the total failure of the wet season this year we expect to see a continuing influx of rarities and are keeping a keen eye on our already overcrowded bird baths here for vagrants and wanderers.
A family of Collared Sparrowhawks has also moved into the Bird Observatory precincts in recent days, with the juvenile taking a fancy to branch less than two metres from my bedroom window. Everywhere you look at the moment is another fantastic bird story.
If you're not in Broome today, try and be happy anyway.
Broome WA
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