WESTERN AUSTRALIA (), ()
17o58´07" S/122o17´30" E, 0 to 18m, dense acacia scrub, lakes and plains, samphire flats, beach, and sea
Austral passage ()
Birding Site Guide
The area covered by the Broome Observatory is regarded as the best site in Australia for shorebirds and ranks in the very top sites for the world. Roebuck Bay probably has the highest diversity of shorebird species on earth. Numbers are impressive with annually over 150,000 shorebirds passing through.
Broome Bird Observatory is located on Crab Creek Road which runs along the northern shores of Roebuck Bay. It lies 25 km east of the nearest town Broome. This is 2,400 km N of Perth by road. Vegetation is mainly dense acacia scrub.
Entry is free but donations are requested, accommodation is available. Watch for Blue-winged Kookaburras on the drive to the Observatory. There are tours to various areas, for reasonable prices, each around 2 hours, or the all day tour which takes in several areas. The Yellow Chat Twitch is for the most famous and sought after species of the area, this being one of the few reliable places in Australia to see this samphire flats endemic. The Bush and Plains Tour being popular, the Roebuck Plains may produce Brolga and Australian Bustard Australian Hobbies, eagles and kites at the right times of year. A fence is popular with Bee-eaters, Woodswallows, Kingfishers and Fairy-Wrens. Pipits and Songlarks will also be seen. Lucky observers may flush Red-chested Buttonquail, and flower feeders such as Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters, Little Friarbirds and other honeyeaters. Other tours are Roebuck Bay Shorebird Tour, Mangrove Tour for Mangrove Grey Fantail, Dusky Gerygone, White-breasted Whistler and Broad-billed Flycatcher. The Lakes Tour takes all day but can produce spectacular numbers of waterbirds. Other places worth checking include the sewage works at Broome where Common Sandpiper, Radjah Shelduck and Intermediate Egret have visited and down the coast is 80-Mile Beach where single Eurasian Curlew have been found in the past. Volunteers are required to help with catching birds and ringing and other tasks.
Rarities have included: Common Bronzewing. Great Crested Grebe are sometimes seen. Pied Honeyeater has been seen at the port.
Around the Obs there is a migration watch from March through to the second week in May, during late April/early May the dry season begins and species move locally accordingly. Masked Woodswallow pass through in large numbers as do Red-tailed Black Cockatoos and Zebra Finches. Yellow White-eyes, Jacky Winters, White-throated Gerygones, Grey Fantails all become more frequent around the Obs. Mangrove Grey Fantail, Red-headed Honeyeater and Broad-billed Flycatcher. In June Brolga and Pelicans are being seen regularly over the Obs as they move around in the dry season and there are many Grey Teal. In July, there may be large numbers of Budgerigars heading east over the Obs depending on whether the season has been favourable or not. Varied Lorikeet may be with them singly or in small numbers and Cockatiels in greater numbers. Welcome Swallow is scarce here but is occasionally seen (as in 2012). Red-headed Honeyeaters young are seen here, there breeding area is not known however. Accompanying them may be Yellow White-eyes, Mangrove Grey Fantails and Broad-billed Flycatchers. Peaceful Dove are common.
In the bay, Black-winged Stilts and Pacific Black Ducks can top a thousand. Other plentiful species either here or at the lakes include Pink-eared Ducks and Wandering Whistling Ducks. Around hundred or so of the following species occur: Red-necked Avocets, Green Pygmy Geese and Glossy Ibis. Terek Sandpiper are fairly regular. Regular but hardly common species include Asian Dowitcher, Broad-billed Sandpiper and Common Redshank. Whistling Kite can be seen here or nearby, other raptor possibilities include Brown Goshawk. Tern species include both Gull-billed Tern (two races) Caspian Tern, Whiskered Tern and White-winged Black Tern. In early June migration on SE winds may produce, many birds at Entrance Point and the Port in town including Tree Martins, Budgerigars and Zebra Finches with perhaps Pied Honeyeater, Crimson Chats, Brown Honeyeaters and Mistletoebirds.
Not far away is Kidneybean Claypan which can only be reached when water levels have receded from around July on and here Yellow Chat can be found. See the mini-guided tours above. Other species here may include Hoary-headed Grebes, Pelicans, Jabirus, Australian Pratincole and Greenshank, Eastern Curlews. Regular species are Golden-headed Cisticola, Black-breasted Buzzard while at Tagarana Bore Weebill, Olive-backed Oriole, Mangrove Gerygone and White-throated Honeyeaters are local.
From June Lake Tours may be able to get through and a popular site is Lake Eda where there are huge numbers of waterbirds including Brolga and Australian Pratincoles, thousands of other waterbirds including Hardheads, Grey Teal, Wandering Whistling Ducks, Pink-eared Ducks, Green Pygmy Geese and Australian Wood Duck, Black Swans and Australian Pelicans. Raptors may include Black-breasted Buzzards, Australian Hobby, Spotted and Swamp Harriers. Other birds are Black-chinned Honeyeaters. Lake Campion and Taylor’s Lagoon can turn up Green Pygmy Geese, Comb-crested Jacana, Intermediate Egret and Australian Pratincole.
On the edge of the Obs recording area at Willaroo Well species such as Black-tailed Treecreepers, Yellow-throated Miners, Square-tailed Kite, Little Woodswallow have been seen in the past.
Mammals include Agile Wallabie Macropus agilis.