Trip Report: Broome (long)

Subject: Trip Report: Broome (long)
From: "John Graff" <>
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2007 21:09:06 +1030
Hi all

Last weekend, I got back from a couple of weeks on holiday in Broome. Naturally, there were plenty of opportunities to enjoy some wonderful birding, along with sunny, warm weather. My parents and two brothers were also there and due to varied interests it was more convenient to stay in town rather than at the Observatory. However, I was able to make up for this to some extent by heading out on several of their tours, which were excellent. Across the two weeks I was able to 18 lifers to my list and recorded 135 confirmed species (plus 2 others heard).

Malcolm Douglas' Crocodile Park in town was a somewhat unlikely birding highlight, as a couple of flowering trees had attracted several species of honeyeaters, including White-gaped, Yellow-tinted, a single, young(ish) Black-chinned, a single Rufous-throated plus Singing and Brown. Restless (Paperbark) Flycatcher, Rufous Whistler and Red-collared Lorikeet were also present along with some waterbirds, taking advantage of the pools in the croc enclosures. These included Little and Great Egret, White-necked Heron and Royal Spoonbill. All of these birds were observed to be free-flying so I figured they were wild birds.

Next up was an excursion to the Crab Creek mangroves with the BBO Mangrove Tour. The birds were somewhat quiet, but Dusky Gerygone, Broad-billed Flycatcher, White-breasted Whistler, Yellow White-Eye and Mangrove Grey Fantail were all recorded along with some interesting species on the mudflats, including Black-necked Stork, Red-necked Avocet and several migratory wader species.

I joined the Bush & Plains tour a couple of days later, with the BBO noticeboard 'promising' 'bonus' Yellow Chats. Yellow Chats were indeed seen, along with Australian Bustard, Singing Bushlark, Golden-headed Cisticola and a number of raptors, a highlight being five different raptor species perched in a row on a fence.

The biggest highlight of the trip was the BBO Lakes Tour, which took in several sites on Roebuck Plains Station. First was an area of tropical woodland where a number of bushbirds were seen, including Yellow-tinted Honeyeater, Weebill, Budgerigar, Diamond Dove, Brown Falcon and Little and White-breasted Woodswallow. Taylors Lagoon had Australian Pratincole, Red-kneed Dotterel, Whiskered and Gull-billed Tern, several duck species and Masked Lapwing amongst others. Lake Campion was very good. Waterfowl were very prominent, with Plumed and Wandering Whistling-Duck, Pink-eared Duck, Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Green Pygmy-Goose and a single Radjah Shelduck. Lake Eda was preferred by egrets, spoonbills etc. Royal Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Intermediate Egret, White-necked Heron, Brolga and all three ibis species including a flock of about 100 Glossys. The surrounding bush and grassland had Pallid Cuckoo, Black-chinned Honeyeater, White-winged Triller, Hooded Robin, Grey-crowned Babbler, Black-breasted Buzzard and Australian Hobby.

A quick morning visit to the sewage ponds turned up large numbers of Plumed Whistling-Ducks and a good number of Whiskered Terns, but overall it was fairly quiet. Later on the same day, I headed out to the general area of the observatory to check out the waders. Numbers were much reduced from my last visit, in November, but most of the commoner species were found, with some Red Knots seen which and a single Asian Dowitcher being highlights. I also ran into a couple of other birders who'd found a pair of Beach Stone-curlews while a Brush Cuckoo in the bushland was an unexpected bonus. The best sighting of the day was an adult White-bellied Sea-Eagle plucking a large fish from the water and then flying along the beach in front of me with its catch, affording wonderful views. A quick walk along the Pindan Trail at BBO had White-throated Gerygone, Variegated Fairy-wren and Great Bowerbird.

I tried to get up to some of the northern creeks (Willie & Barred) but our excursion was derailed by a large bushfire threatening from the north. I did check out Coconut Well (not much about) and Willie Creek Pearl Farm (Striated Heron, a couple of Brolga, Mistletoebird) before we turned around

On top of these excursions, there were interesting birds to be seen around the place while doing other things. The mangroves near our hotel had Red-headed Honeyeater, White-breasted Whistler and Brahminy Kite as well as a flock of over 100 Black Kites that perched mostly hidden in the mangroves until something/someone put them to flight. Rainbow Bee-eater, Black Kite, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Bar-shouldered Dove, Masked Lapwing and Pied Butcherbird were seen around town. A couple of Southern Boobooks could be heard while on an astronomy tour, and several waders, egrets, herons and cormorants were seen while crossing Roebuck Bay in a hovercraft.

All up, a second great trip to Broome for me. The people at the observatory were all friendly and the tours were very good, the Lakes one in particular, plus the weather was wonderful.

John Graff

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