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Kimberley Bird Watching

Author: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: April 2007

We drove out to where the VC said the dirt road was (17.887S 122.277E). It looked OK at first, but soon we came on a place with a big water hole in the road. The road was very hummocky, so we couldn't tell how deep the water might be (it didn't look shallow). We could see more places down the road with standing water holes. We didn't want to take the rental car into muddy water of uncertain depth, so we returned to the VC.

The VC's here are mostly reservation services. We told them what we were looking for, and they found us a very nice 1-bed room accommodation with cooking facilities at the Habitat Resort Broome.

On April 12 we were out early for bush walking in the cool (77F) of the morning around the Crown Land behind the Resort. On the walk we saw Parrot Sweet Pea vines, and a lush purple ground cover. We saw heaps of Dragonflies on the walk. The manager at the resort told us Dragonflies are a sign that the Wet was over.

We saw several Raptors flying close over our heads including Ospreys, Hobbies, and Black Kites. We also saw the Kimberly form of the Great Bowerbird and a pair of Western Bowerbirds. We finally got to where we could see the beach from the top of a sand dune. We decided not to go down the 60-degree embankment since we only saw a lone Whimbrel on the beach.

After coffee/tea and Apricot coffee cake, we headed off to the Ponds (a.k.a. Sewage Treatment Ponds 17.975S 122.220E). We didn't have a very good view from the road, but we did see Plumed Whistling-Ducks and other water birds. Our best bird was the Rufous-throated Honeyeater. You can get a better look at the Ponds from the 11th Green of the Golf Course.

We drove around to Town Beach. The tides are pretty flat today (next week they have 27 ft tides). We walked over the exposed ocean bottom to the Mangroves where we saw a Dark Morf form of the Eastern Reef Egret, a Siberian Whimbrel, and a Striated Heron. My wife thought she saw a Mangrove Robin, so we'll be back soon to get another look.

About 2:30pm we drove over to Cable Beach (17.927S 122.210E) -- actually, right out onto the beach. At first we didn't see any birds, but then an Osprey dropped into the ocean in front of us and came up with a long skinny fish in one talon. We started walking over the rough rocks on the south side of the beach and began to find small groups of shore birds like the Common Tern, Common Redshank, and many others.

On April 13 we drove over to Cable Beach at 6:30am for bush walking. We saw some Flowering Maples (a.k.a. Abolution) and Blue Sweet Pea Vines along the path to the beach. The bush was alive with birds. Nothing we hadn't seen before, but soooooo many birds -- swarms of Singing Honeyeaters chasing each other, Crested Pigeons galore, Gray Shrike-Thrushes, a pair of Red-breasted Gray-crowned Babblers, heaps of Great Bowerbirds, and a spectacular Mistletoebird.

We drove down to the beach. We walked over to where we had seen some shore birds and tracked down several flocks of shore birds including a pair of Gray-tailed Tattlers and a Curlew Sandpiper. By mid-morning it was hot, so we headed for the air-con.

Midafternoon, we drove over to the hotel section of Cable Beach. Too many people for us, so we headed for the Ponds. This time I got to see the Rufous-throated Honeyeater.

On April 14 it was a hot and humid 75F when we ventured out at 5:30am in the pre-dawn darkness. We walked over to the adjoining Golf Course (we have free green fees there). Our resort manager had said we could go birding on the golf course, but the gate was locked early.

About 6:30am we walked back to the Golf Course (17.975S 122.220E). This time the gate was open. The fairways were hopping with Red Kangaroos and Agile Wallabies mowing down the green grass. The Golf Course sits next to the Ponds and uses Pond water to water the grass. There was a sign at the edge of the golf course that said the Health Dept. required that everyone must wear shoes with toes due to hookworms.

The birds were abundant. We saw an Oriental Cuckoo, an Osprey being chased by a Sea Eagle (trying to get the Osprey's fish), a Pheasant Coucal, heaps of Rainbow Lorikeets and Red-winged Parrots. My favorite sighting was of a Rufous Morf of the Little Friarbird -- the Friarbirds were feasting on the Blue Sweet Peas.

By the time we left at 9:30am it was 84F and the big Goannas and Lizards were out for their morning walk-about.

About 2:30pm we went for a joy-drive. First we checked out the road to the bird observatory -- it was still flooded about 1.5Km from the Broome Rd turnoff. Next we turned onto the road to Port Leveque. It was paved for the first 10Km, but then became a red dirt road. We turned back.

Out final stop was 41Km outside Broome where the Fall cyclones had created vast temporary wetlands (and some water standing on the road). There were tens of thousands of terns, Ibis, stilts, egrets, etc. flying around in great black masses. We also found a pair of Square-tailed Kites.

On April 15 we were down to Roebuck Beach (17.953S 122.246E) in time for the dawn colors and to see the sun rise at 6:03am. The overnight low was 72F, so walking was pleasant.

The tide was low so we could walk into the mangrove field. The birds, however, were around the edges and by the big flowering trees. We saw a Mangrove Golden Whistler, Red-headed Honeyeater, and Mistletoebird as a flock of small birds moved thru the area. Parrots, Lorikeets, and Doves were always around. Pretty soon our clothes were drenches with sweat, so we headed home for snacks and a bath.

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