Key Species : Brown Booby, Lesser Frigatebird, Striated Heron, Letter-winged Kite (chance), Grey Falcon (chance), Red-backed Button-quail (good chance), Red-chested Button-quail (good chance), Chestnut-backed Button-quail (good chance), Pin-tailed Snipe (chance), Swinhoe's Snipe (good chance), Little Curlew, Common Redshank (good chance), Terek Sandpiper, Asian Dowitcher (good chance), Broad-billed Sandpiper (good chance), Beach Stone-curlew (good chance), Pacific Golden Plover, Oriental Plover, Oriental Pratincole, Black-headed Gull (long shot), Franklin's Gull (long shot), Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove (chance), Little Bronze-Cuckoo (good chance), Grass Owl (good chance), Fork-tailed Swift, Collared Kingfisher (chance), Dollarbird, Dusky Gerygone, Mangrove Gerygone, Red-headed Honeyeater, Crimson Chat (chance), Yellow Chat (chance), Lemon-bellied (Kimberley) Flycatcher, Hooded Robin, Mangrove Robin, Mangrove Golden Whistler, White-breasted Whistler, Broad-billed Flycatcher, Mangrove Grey Fantail, Red-throated Pipit (long shot), Yellow Wagtail (good chance), Gouldian Finch (good chance), Barn Swallow (good chance), Red-rumped Swallow (long shot), Arctic Warbler (long shot), Yellow White-eye. Mammals : Agile Wallaby (Macropus agilis), Black Flying-fox (Pteropus alecto), Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris).
I have been to Broome (Post Office S17° 57“ 05" E122° 14“ 37") more than 30 times since 1990. I have seen 249 species (and heard one other) out of a shire list of over 300. I have always seen something different every time that I have been there, although lately they have mostly been 'Broome ticks' rather than state or life ticks. Needless to say it is one of my favourite birding areas in Australia.
You should definitely stay at the Broome Bird Observatory (08 9193 5600). It is about 20km from Broome on the shores of Roebuck Bay near Crab Creek and it is very peaceful and restful, with plenty of birds within walking distance, with the highlight naturally being the large numbers of migratory waders. They have a choice of accommodation of air-conditioned or non air-conditioned rooms in old mining dongas, a chalet or you can camp. Note that the observatory keeps a daily bird log, so keep records of what you see, where and how many. They also have a twitcher's tax to help fund new scopes, binoculars and other equipment for people who visit or go on tours. I recommend that you buy the book The Birds of Broome by Peter Collins.
I consider that the best time for birding in Broome is early to mid October after the waders and terns have returned along with the other migratory species (such as Dollarbird, Fork-tailed Swift, and the first Yellow Wagtails and Barn Swallows), although many of the wetlands may have dried out. My best trip totals in Broome have been 158 species in 5 days in November 1999, 156 species in 10 days in early September 1992 and 153 species in 9 days at the start of October 1991. Oriental Plover stays on the beach when it arrives in early September and Little Curlew are on the town ovals from late September. These species move inland when the rains come. In October the weather has started to get hot, but it is not unbearable and the insects are also manageable. In late October, the grass on the plain is also thinner from the cattle and termites making it better for finches, chats, quail, etc. Rosy Starling and Black-headed Gull were recorded in late September and early October.
Mid November to February is a very interesting time for birding as the wet season builds up and gets under way, and the first major storms arrive. Oriental Pratincoles don't usually arrive in numbers until December or sometimes even early January. Many rarities for Australia, WA and Broome have been found during this period including Arctic Warbler, Blue and White Flycatcher, Franklin's Gull, Sabine's Gull, Kelp Gull, Oriental Reed-warbler, Red-rumped Swallow, Red-throated Pipit, Pied Imperial-Pigeon, House Swift, beach washed seabirds, etc.
Late March and April are also excellent for birding, but the weather can be very hot and humid, and the mosquitoes can sometimes be in clouds if the plains have extensive areas of water. I have only seen between 109 and 134 species on my trips at this time of the year, but this has largely been because I was there as part of the Australasian Wader Study Group (AWSG) North West Wader Expeditions and spent most of my time banding rather than birding. It is also difficult to get access to the wetlands at this time of year as the roads on the black soil plains are impassable. The highlights are the migratory waders in breeding plumage (especially Greater Sand Plover and Lesser Sand Plover), the flocks that depart on migration in the late afternoon, and other birds in breeding plumage such as White-winged Black Tern and Intermediate Egret on the plains at the back of the observatory. There is the chance of cyclones in April (four have threatened while I have been there) which can bring in some of the seabirds, and sometimes even some birds from inland such as Pictorella Mannikin and Painted Finch in April 1996. The uncommon Red-chested and Red-backed Button-quail mainly occur in the wet season.
Australian rarities such as Asian Dowitcher, Common Redshank and Broad-billed Sandpiper can be found throughout the year, but they are probably easier to find from May to August when there are fewer birds in the large flocks to search through. Quite a few of the godwits and knots that over winter are in breeding plumage. The warm winter weather is fantastic with the chance of a sea fog in the morning. Many of the trees such as melaleucas, grevilleas and bauhinias are flowering which attracts the honeyeaters. In drier seasons there is the chance of seeing nomadic inland species such as Black Honeyeater, Pied Honeyeater and White-fronted Honeyeater.
Another highlight at Broome are the mangrove species which are easy to find such as Dusky Gerygone, White-breasted Whistler, Mangrove Golden Whistler, Broad-billed Flycatcher and Red-headed Honeyeater plus chances of Mangrove Gerygone, Collared Kingfisher and Lemon-bellied (Kimberley) Flycatcher. The raptors are also excellent with common species such as Brahminy Kite, Spotted Harrier, Brown Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk and White-bellied Sea-Eagle and good chances of seeing Square-tailed Kite and possibly Grey Falcon.
You might think about hiring a small 4WD in town if you want to go to many of the places, but there is a lot of birding around the observatory. The BBO run two and a half hour tours on many days which are a must for your first visit. Better still, arrange to be there for their week 'courses' which are mostly birding at all the best places plus usually some banding so that you can see the birds in your hand.
1. Broome Bird Observatory
The Observatory (S17° 58“ 32" E122° 20“ 41") - There are a few bird baths that attract some honeyeaters (Brown, Singing and Rufous-throated), doves (Peaceful, Bar-shouldered and Diamond), Crested Pigeon, Great Bowerbird, Brown Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk, Long-tailed Finch, etc. Restless Flycatcher, Rufous Whistler, Grey-Shrike-thrush, Mistletoebird, Pied Butcherbird, Grey-crowned Babbler and sometimes Olive-backed Oriole and White-throated Gerygone are common near the buildings. An Arctic Warbler was banded at the observatory in January 1998. Agile Wallaby is common at the bird bath near the bough shed.
Roebuck Bay (BBO to Crab Creek) - There are a number of access points to the bay where the waders roost at high tide. The best tides for viewing are between 6.5m and 8.5m. Any lower and the tide does not force the waders off the mudflats at Crab Creek. Any higher and the waders are very nervous because they are high up the beach and too close to the pindan cliffs. The very high tides leave no room on the beach which forces them to fly over to the back of the mangroves. You should start observing the waders about 1 to 2 hours before high tide (the higher the tide then the earlier you should start). The beach between the observatory and Crab Creek is within easy walking distance and is a major roost for the godwits and knots. Check the godwits closely for Asian Dowitcher. Grey Plover, Common Greenshank, Pied Oystercatcher and Eastern Curlew are also common. Common Redshank is occasionally found with the Common Greenshank, especially on the higher tides when the banks of Crab Creek are covered. The rocks just to the left of the observatory are the roosting site for Grey-tailed Tattler, Ruddy Turnstone, Terek Sandpiper, Lesser Crested Tern, etc. The first Common Redshank that I saw was roosting on a rock. The stony beach on the point (S17° 58“ 38" E122° 20“ 42") just to the right of the observatory is used by the smaller waders such as Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Greater Sand Plover, Red-capped Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Terek Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, etc. The sand spit in front of the observatory is good for small numbers of a good variety of species as the tide rises until it is covered. The beach is still worth a look at other times for the waders feeding on the mud, plus other species such as egrets (Great, Little and Eastern Reef), Striated Heron, terns, Sacred Kingfisher, raptors, etc. It is always worth looking out into the bay for Brown Booby, and in the late afternoon there are sometimes Lesser Frigatebird. A Grey Wagtail was reported on the beach in front of the observatory in early November 2002. The observatory runs a two and a half hour Shorebirds Tour. I highly recommend this tour if this is your first time in Broome, because they go to the best vantage points, and they can quickly locate and identify all the species. See below for more specific information on the sites along Roebuck Bay.
Crab Creek mudflats - It is about 3kms from the BBO to the 'One Tree' lookout (S17° 59“ 00" E122° 21“ 57"). As high tide approaches, you will see tens of thousands of waders streaming off the mud flats to fly around the bay to roost. Before high tide, you can walk along the beach until you reach a gap (S17° 59“ 20" E122° 22“ 12") in the mangroves near 'Little' Crab Creek. You need a scope to get the best views of the waders feeding nearby. Along the main Crab Creek channel you should see Great and Little Egret, Royal Spoonbill, Pied Cormorant, Black-necked Stork, Australian White Ibis, Australian Pelican, etc. I have seen as many as 5 Common Redshank and Asian Dowitcher feeding close to the mangroves near high tide. The more likely place for Common Redshank is on the banks of 'Big' Crab Creek but this is in the distance so you really need to know what you are looking for (extensive white trailing edge to wings in flight). Also look for Sacred and Collared Kingfisher, Striated Heron, mudskippers, crabs, etc. The observatory's Mangrove Bird Walk includes the walk to the edge of the mangroves.
Crab Creek mangroves (S17° 59“ 16" E122° 22“ 16") - If you walk along the beach around behind the mangroves to the left for about 10 to 15 minutes as far as you can go on the sand, you get to the best place to see the mangrove species. You should be able to fairly easily find White-breasted Whistler, Broad-billed Flycatcher, Dusky Gerygone, Mangrove Grey Fantail and Yellow White-eye. If you walk back 200 metres or so along the edge of the creek, you should also be able to find Mangrove Golden Whistler and possibly Collared Kingfisher. Pishing and whistling helps. This area was damaged by a major cyclone several years ago. I recommend the observatory's Mangrove Bird Walk as they know the best sites for each species and they can locate them by call and pishing. Remember to use insect repellent if you are sensitive to sand flies. I saw a Beach Stone-curlew on the beach behind the mangroves.
Big Crab Creek - Only do this close to a neap tide as you need to cross Little Crab Creek and you will get stranded on a higher tide. Don't do it alone, and I recommend going with someone who has been there before as they will know better where to go. The best place to cross Little Crab Creek is reached by following the beach from One Tree point to a gap in the mangroves, and then following a trail along the edge of the creek to a point. Walk quickly with short steps down the mud to the base of the creek. Climb the other side slightly to the right. You should cross shortly before low tide when the water is still flowing out at about knee height. There is a shorter route if you know it, but otherwise follow the edge of the mangroves until you get to the edge of Crab Creek and follow it until you come to a side creek. All the mangrove birds can be found on the other side of Little Crab Creek, plus there is a chance of Lemon-bellied (Kimberley) Flycatcher. The Common Redshank is most commonly found feeding along the banks of the creek. Ask the BBO wardens about where Common Redshank was last seen. When you return to the beach, use the white sand to rub off the mud.
Malurus Trail (fence) - The Malurus Trail starts at the back of the bough shed, and leads to the fence line of Roebuck Plains Station and then turns right and follows the track beside the fence all the way to One Tree. This walk takes from two to four hours depending how far you go, so make certain that you take sufficient water. There isn't usually very much in the pindan although I saw a Hooded Robin in July 1990, and a Brush Cuckoo in April 1995. When you get to the gate, you can follow the track out onto the plain (see next site). Continue to follow the fence line down to the corner. What you see will depend on the season and the length of the grass. Birds to look for include White-winged Triller, Grey-crowned Babbler, Red-backed Fairy-wren, raptors (including Black-shouldered Kite), Brown Quail, Long-tailed Finch, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo, etc.
Malurus Trail (plain) - When you get to the gate (S17° 58“ 25" E122° 21“ 11"), climb through and follow the track out onto the plain. I usually follow the track as far as some low vegetation about 20 minutes walk along the track unless I can see some wet areas further out. Look for raptors, Singing Bushlark, Richard's Pipit, Golden-headed Cisticola, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo, woodswallows, martins, Welcome Swallow (Barn can be seen in the wet season), Brown Quail, Little Button-quail (Red-chested and possibly Red-backed in the wet season), Australian Bustard, Grass Owl, Tawny Grassbird, etc. In the wet season you can see terns (Whiskered, White-winged and Gull-billed) patrolling the plain, and Oriental Plover is a small chance on areas of short grass. You can either walk back to the gate, or I prefer to try to flush quail or Grass Owl by tramping my way through the grass close to the edge of the pindan until I get to the fence line near the corner (S17° 58“ 29" E122° 21“ 40"). The plain can vary from very short grass and dust after several dry seasons (July 1990) to thick and knee high after the wet season. The number of cattle makes a big difference also. This affects the variety of birds. In July 1990 I saw Crimson Chat, and in March 1996 I saw Pictorella Mannikin close to the fence.
Malurus Trail (fence corner) (S17° 58“ 29" E122° 21“ 40") - At the fence corner the track bends to the right. There is a shorter species of grass beside the left side of the track past this point. This is the best place to flush Brown Quail and button-quail (mostly Little but also a chance of Red-chested and Red-backed both of which I saw in March 1996). You may need to tramp through the grass two or three times before they will flush. Any time of day is a chance, but the best time is late in the afternoon. You will also flush Singing Bushlark. Before you start, focus your binoculars for 15 to 20 metres so that you can quickly follow the bird in flight. You can sometimes hear the oom-oom call of the button-quails. I saw my only Grey Falcon perched in a dead tree near the fence corner in July 1990. Richard's Pipit, Brown Songlark and Rufous Songlark are also possible.
Malurus Trail (salt marsh at fence corner) - After the wet season or a spring tide there are usually some flooded areas out on the plain about 200 metres or so from the fence corner. The mosquitoes can be appalling so take some insect repellent. Look for birds such as Common Greenshank, Intermediate Egret, Australian White Ibis, Australian Pelican, Black-necked Stork, Royal Spoonbill, Black-winged Stilt, Marsh Sandpiper, etc. Black-winged Stilt nested there in April 1991.
Malurus Trail (fence corner to One Tree) - It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to walk back along the fence to the observatory. Alternatively, you can continue to walk about 45 minutes along the track to One Tree, and then about an hour back to the observatory along the road. There usually are very few birds of interest, but I have seen Letter-winged Kites roosting along this track in October 1995. I have also seen Variegated Fairy-wren a couple of times in the pindan close to One Tree. Cuckoos tend to be fairly common in the pindan along this section.
2. Roebuck Bay
The Broome Bird Observatory has a mud map of all the viewing sites along Roebuck Bay from Crab Creek to Quarry Beach with distances from the BBO. Ask for it at the office.
There are a number of access points to the bay where the waders roost at high tide. The best tides for viewing are between 6.5m and 8.5m. Any lower and the tide does not force the waders off the mudflats at Crab Creek. Any higher and the waders are very nervous because they are high up the beach and too close to the pindan cliffs. The very high tides leave no room on the beach which forces them to fly over to the back of the mangroves. You should start observing the waders about 1.5 to 3 hours before high tide (the higher the tide then the earlier you should start). The observatory runs a two and a half hour Shorebirds Tour. I highly recommend this tour if this is your first time in Broome, because they go to the best vantage points, and they can quickly locate and identify all the main species.
The beach between the observatory and Crab Creek is within easy walking distance and is a major roost for the godwits and knots. Check the godwits closely for Asian Dowitcher. Grey Plover, Common Greenshank, Pied Oystercatcher and Eastern Curlew are also common. Common Redshank is occasionally found with the Common Greenshank, especially on the higher tides when the banks of Crab Creek are covered. The rocks just to the left of the observatory are the roosting site for Grey-tailed Tattler, Ruddy Turnstone, Terek Sandpiper, Lesser Crested Tern, etc. The first Common Redshank that I saw was roosting on a rock. The stony beach on the point (S17° 58“ 38" E122° 20“ 42") just to the right of the observatory is used by the smaller waders such as Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Greater Sand Plover, Red-capped Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Terek Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, etc. The sand spit in front of the observatory is good for small numbers of a good variety of species as the tide rises until it is covered. The beach is still worth a look at other times for the waders feeding on the mud, plus other species such as egrets (Great, Little and Eastern Reef), Striated Heron, terns, Sacred Kingfisher, raptors, etc. It is always worth looking out into the bay for Brown Booby, and in the late afternoon there are sometimes Lesser Frigatebird. A Grey Wagtail was reported on the beach in front of the observatory in early November 2002.
The following sites are mostly shown on the mud map. The distances shown are the distance from the BBO entrance, and from the Crab Creek Road T junction at Quarry Beach. Please try to avoid flushing the waders when they are roosting. They are disturbed often enough by raptors. So avoid walking along the beach close to high tide. I recommend that you park on the road unless I suggest otherwise.
One Tree (S17° 59“ 08" E122° 21“ 54" 2.7km left / 8.8km) - The sight of tens of thousands of waders streaming past One Tree as the tide pushes them off the Crab Creek mudflats is awe inspiring, especially from October to March. You can get down to the beach from here and walk along the mangroves to the left. Whimbrel often congregate on some mud behind the mangroves. Common Sandpiper is often found here too.
Stilt Viewing (S17° 59“ 01" E122° 21“ 49" 2.5km left / 8.6km) - There is usually a large flock of godwits and knots roosting here.
Boiler Point (S17° 58“ 51" E122° 21“ 38" 1.9km left / 8.0km) - There are usually large flocks of godwits and knots roosting here, usually to the left of the point. This is often the best place to view Black-tailed Godwit. There are a few rocks and mangroves that can attract other species.
Not Named (S17° 58“ 47" E122° 21“ 31" 1.6km left / 7.7km) - This is a good place to view most of the bay from Crab Creek to the BBO to determine where the main flocks are roosting.
Not Named (S17° 58“ 47" E122° 21“ 31" 1.4km left / 7.5km) - This is a good place to view the bay from Boiler Point to the BBO to determine where the main flocks are roosting.
Not Named (S17° 58“ 33" E122° 21“ 13" 1.0km left / 7.1km) - This is another good place to view the bay from Boiler Point to the BBO to determine where the main flocks are roosting. A large flock often roosts here including many of the Eastern Curlew. Greenshank Corner is to the right.
Not Named (S17° 58“ 33" E122° 21“ 01" 0.5km left / 6.6km) - The corner to the left has been called Greenshank Corner because it is a common roost site for Common Greenshank, as well as Grey Plover, Grey-tailed Tattler and Terek Sandpiper.
Pull Off Bay (S17° 58“ 30" E122° 20“ 52" 0.3km left / 6.4km) - The area is front is easy to walk to from the BBO and it usually has small numbers of a good variety of waders. There can be good numbers of waders and terns on the sandy spit before it gets covered by the tide.
Viewing Platform (S17° 58“ 39" E122° 20“ 40" 0.1km left / 6.2km) - Park in the small car park across the road. There is a path from the BBO office. You can observe the beach, some mud and the start of the sand spit. Please observe the sign and don't access the beach from here.
Sabu Rocks (S17° xx“ xx" E122° xx“ xx" 0.4km right / 5.7km) - The rocks, pebbly beach, sand bar and mud flats usually only have a comparatively low number of waders, but there is usually a good variety.
Fall Point (S17° xx“ xx" E122° xx“ xx" 0.8km right / 5.3km) - .
Wader Beach (S17° 58“ 46" E122° 22“ 13" 1.2km right / 4.9km) - This is 1.2km from the BBO entrance. Wader Beach is the best location to see the small waders such as Greater Sand Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Red-necked Stint, Red-capped Plover, terns and it is the most likely place to find Broad-billed Sandpiper.
Richard's Point (S17° 58“ 37" E122° 19“ 38" 1.9km right / 4.2km) - This is an excellent site to view waders and terns that prefer to roost at high tide on the stony beach and offshore rocks.
Tattler Rocks (S17° 58“ 30" E122° 19“ 09" 2.9km right / 3.2km) - This is an excellent site to view waders and terns that prefer to roost at high tide on the stony beach and offshore rocks.
Campsite (S17° xx“ xx" E122° xx“ xx" 3.8km right / 2.3km) - .
Eagle's Roost (S17° xx“ xx" E122° xx“ xx" 4.6km right / 1.5km) - .
Nick's Beach (S17° xx“ xx" E122° xx“ xx" 5.0km right / 1.1km) - .
Two Dog Hermit (S17° xx“ xx" E122° xx“ xx" 5.4km right / 0.7km) - There is usually a large flock of mixed waders roosting on this beach.
Quarry Beach (S17° 58“ 09" E122° 17“ 30" 6.1km right / 0.0km) - The entrance is opposite the T junction of Crab Creek Road. On a suitable tide there are good flocks of waders and terns. If you follow the former Crab Creek Road towards Broome for 800 metres from the T junction there is a large gravel area (S17° 57“ 57" E122° 16“ 57"). You can look from here at the end of the beach nearest the mangroves. Beach Stone-curlew has been seen here a few times.
3. Former Crab Creek Road
This is the former road that goes from the T junction at Quarry Beach across the salt marsh to the horse farm. There were too many people getting stuck after high tide, and during the wet season, and so this road is now closed. Access is still possible, but don't go near it if it is even slightly damp, as no one will come to help you.
Quarry Beach Mangroves - Follow the former Crab Creek Road for about 1 to 1.5km towards Broome from Quarry Beach and turn down one of the rough tracks. Walk along the edge of the mangroves towards Broome. This is the best site in Broome to see Red-headed Honeyeater. They respond very well to pishing. You also have good chances of seeing all the other mangrove species. If you can't find them along the mangroves, then try the edge of the pindan at the top of the beach. This is also a good site for Mistletoebird, Variegated Fairy-wren, etc.
Dampier Creek Salt Marsh - The former Crab Creek Road is impassable when wet or after large tides. It is a good place to see raptors, Richard's Pipit, Singing Bushlark, Brown Songlark, and Oriental Plover in the wet season. Grass Owl has been reported here during the wet season.
Horse Farm (S17° 55“ 21" E122° 14“ 46") - There is a small pool opposite the horse farm very near the start of the former Crab Creek Road. This usually has a few waders and sometimes it turns up something different such as Black-necked Stork, Red-necked Phalarope in January 1995 and Franklin's Gull in January 1997. There are still be a few feral Common Peafowl in this area.
4. Broome Town
Town Ovals - The town ovals are always worth a quick look in the wet season for Straw-necked Ibis, Little Curlew, Oriental Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, Yellow Wagtail, Richard's Pipit, snipe, etc. Mike Carter photographed a Red-throated Pipit on the main oval in January 1992. The main oval is obvious as you enter town. The other two ovals are along Frederick Street and Port Drive on the way to the port.
Town Mangroves - The town mangroves stretch from the back of Chinatown down past the Mangrove Hotel. The end of the mangroves near the Mangrove Hotel probably has fewer people. Walk along the mangroves until you reach a wide path cut though the mangroves. Walk along the path to the waters edge of the mangroves (S17° 57“ 47" E122° 14“ 41"). This is a good site to observe the waders. The mangroves have most of the mangrove species including Red-headed Honeyeater.
Streeters Jetty Mangroves (S17° 57“ 12" E122° 14“ 47") - Streeters Jetty is at the left hand end of town near Chinatown. Look at the end of the jetty for Red-headed Honeyeater, Yellow White-eye, Mangrove Grey Fantail and possibly Mangrove Golden Whistler. Walk along to the end of the beach to the left and look for Mangrove Golden Whistler, Dusky Gerygone and Mangrove Gerygone. The mangroves have most of the mangrove species including Red-headed Honeyeater. There is usually a Black Flying-fox roost in the tall mangroves to the left of the channel.
Broome Sewage Ponds (S17° 58“ 35" E122° 13“ 22") - The sewage ponds are not as good as they used to be, but they are still a must to visit. For the best views, you will need a key for the gate, but the water corporation is making access harder. The easiest way to get there is to head towards the port and turn left at Clemenson Street. Just after a few shops on the right, turn right down a small track to the gate and park. Common waterbirds include ducks, Australasian Grebe, Royal Spoonbill, ibis, Australian Pelican, terns, etc. 'Freshwater' waders include Common Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Curlew Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, etc and in the wet season Pacific Golden Plover, Long-toed Stint and a chance of Gallinago sp. snipe and Little Curlew. There is a good chance to see Barn Swallow and Yellow Wagtail in the wet season, and a Black-headed Gull was seen during the 1991/2 wet season. The pindan to the left of the main gates can be good for a variety of bush birds.
Broome Golf Course (S17° 58“ 54" E122° 12“ 47") - The golf course next door can also have some good birds.
Broome Port (wharf) - The wharf at the harbour is a good place for terns, waders, Darter, Brown Booby, Eastern Reef Egret, Osprey, Lesser Frigatebird, etc.
Entrance Point (S18° 00“ 27" E122° 12“ 36") - Just before the wharf, there is a road past the silos and the fishing club to a final parking area at Entrance Point. This is usually a good chance for Sanderling. Also, walk into the dunes to look for Grey-headed Honeyeater. This seems to be a 'migration trap' for birds on the move, and if you are there at the right time you might find Pictorella Mannikin, Painted Finch, Black Honeyeater, Pied Honeyeater, White-fronted Honeyeater, etc. A Kelp Gull was seen here from December 2001 until at least May 2002.
Port to Cable Beach - This is a dirt road but can be good for different species. There used to be a pair of Square-tailed Kites in this area, but they are not always easy to locate, and they haven't been seen recently. Stop along the way to check the bays. At Cable Beach take a swim!!!!! (except in the wet season when there are stingers).
Area behind Cable Beach - It is worth while checking along the roads in the area behind Cable Beach. There are good chances of Barn Swallow, Dollarbird, Red-backed Kingfisher, etc and a small chance of Channel-billed Cuckoo and other goodies.
Minyirr Walk (S17° 56“ 45" E122° 12“ 45") - This is a marked walk trail through the dunes near Cable Beach. There are mostly the usual bush birds, but if the vines are fruiting there could be a chance of Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove which has been recorded here.
Town Gardens - Many gardens have Yellow-tinted Honeyeater, White-gaped Honeyeater, Double-barred Finch, White-throated Gerygone, Olive-backed Oriole and possibly Black-chinned (Golden-backed) Honeyeater, etc.
5. North of Broome
Coconut Well (S17° 49“ 09" E122° 12“ 41") - There is a lagoon at Coconut Well which can be good for birds, plus the sand dunes and pindan can have a good variety of species. The turnoff to Coconut Well is off the Cape Leveque Road and is sealed all the way. The lagoon is at the end of Denham Road. Look for waders in the lagoon. Walk around the lagoon to the right, then along the edge of the lagoon and cross over the sand dune to the beach (S17° 49“ 11" E122° 13“ 23"). Look for waders and Sanderling in particular. A Sabine's Gull was reported here in December 2001.
Dam on Cape Leveque Road (S17° 47“ 00" E122° 16“ 55") - The Cape Leveque Road is almost opposite the all weather road to the Broome Bird Observatory. The first stretch is bitumen which continues past the turnoff to Coconut Well. 900 metres before the end of the bitumen at a flood marker, there is a dam on the right. This is a good spot for a few bush birds including Western Gerygone, White-throated Honeyeater, possible Jacky Winter, etc.
Waterbank Station - Across the road from the dam is a track onto Waterbank which has been resumed by the government. There are a couple of excellent areas of water. Ask directions from the observatory. You will need a 4WD. Access is now restricted by CALM, and you should get a permit.
Nimilaica Claypan (S17° 46“ 49" E122° 15“ 37") - This is on Waterbank Station. Follow the track for 2.2km until you get to a track on the right. Park here and walk along the track. Nimilaica Claypan is about 200 metres along the track. Look for Purple Swamphen, Comb-crested Jacana and other waders and waterbirds such as crakes. Barking Owl, Brush Cuckoo, Garganey, Little Bittern, Little Grassbird have been recorded here. The track from the Cape Leveque Road to Nimilaica Claypan is excellent for frogs at night after light rain.
Crescent Lake (S17° 47“ 00" E122° 16“ 56") - This is on Waterbank Station. Follow the track past the turnoff to Nimilaica Claypan for 5km from the Cape Leveque Road until you get to the fence (S17° 46“ 26" E122° 15“ 40"). Go through the fence, turn right and follow the track for 2.4km until you reach a drain. Crescent Lake is about 500 metres to the right. Look for waders, waterbirds and raptors. Oriental Plover and Great Cormorant have been recorded here.
Willie Creek - The turnoff to Willie Creek, Barred Creek, etc through to Coulomb Point is about 17km from the Great Northern Highway turnoff. This is an unsealed road but it usually in quite good condition but the tracks into each site require 4WD to get to the best places. The turnoff to Willie Creek is about another 3.4km. The mud map that I obtained from a 4WD hire company shows that you follow around the edge of the salt marsh to a T junction with the pearl farm on the left. There can be good birding particularly by turning right at the T junction and driving towards the point.
Barred Creek - The Barred Creek turnoff is 9.2km past the Willie Creek turnoff (14.3km from the Cape Leveque Road). At 1.2km from the turnoff there is a T junction. You can turn left for 300 metres to an open area overlooking the creek (S17° 39“ 40" E122° 12“ 04"). Walk along the creek to the right through the mangroves. At the T junction you can also turn right and continue to an area of salt marsh which you follow around and the track gets very sandy. Drive as far as you can to the first rocks (S17° 39“ 28" E122° 11“ 03"). From here continue walking along the edge of the mangroves, the creek and then the rocks to the point (S17° 40“ 08" E122° 11“ 09"). The rocks between the creek and the ocean has an area of petrified forest. Barred Creek is an excellent area for mangrove species including the Lemon-bellied (Kimberley) Flycatcher. There are also waders, terns, a very good chance of Beach Stone-curlew, Lesser Frigatebirds, turtles, Red-headed Honeyeater, Mangrove Gerygone, etc.
Quondong Point - The Quondong Point turnoff is 7.7km past the Barred Creek turnoff (22.2km from the Cape Leveque Road). I haven't been there but I have been told by previous wardens of the BBO that it can be worth a look.
James Price Point - The James Price Point turnoff is 13.7km past the Barred Creek turnoff (35.9km from the Cape Leveque Road). I haven't been there but I have been told by previous wardens of the BBO that it can be worth a look. On a boat trip to Ashmore Reef, we passed this area on our return and there was a very large flock of Roseate Terns.
6. Roebuck Plains Station
Roebuck Plains Station has some of the best birding sites of the Broome area. However, as for all pastoral leases you must ask the the station manager for permission for access. Access is generally very restricted, so I recommend contacting the BBO. The BBO always visits some of these sites during their five day courses, and occasionally they have day tours to the best sites. Access is only possible during the dry season as the black soil plains are impassable during the wet season even for 4WDs.
Lake Eda (S17° 53“ 21" E122° 39“ 03"), Lake Campion (S17° 50“ 51" E122° 44“ 29"), Taylor's Lagoon (S17° 46“ 43" E122° 53“ 19") and Kidney Bean Lagoon (S17° 58“ 12" E122° 24“ 13") are excellent wetlands. You could expect to see about 80 species during a visit. There is a variety of waterbirds such as Magpie Goose, Wandering Whistling-Duck, Plumed Whistling-Duck, Black Swan, Green Pygmy-Goose, Baillon's Crake. October is the best time to visit provided they are not dry because of the chance of seeing something unusual, but any visit is always memorable. There is also the chance of seeing uncommon species such as Pectoral Sandpiper, Bush Stone-curlew, Yellow Chat, Orange Chat, Flock Bronzewing, Black-breasted Buzzard or Black Falcon.
Bores such as Tagarana, Gurumbul and Polly's are good bush birding sites. Uncommon birds for the Broome area that are possible are Variegated Fairy-wren, Western Gerygone, Leaden Flycatcher, Black-tailed Treecreeper, Black-chinned Honeyeater. Grey Goshawk was recorded once.
There are a number of artesian bores and open dams in the open black soil plains that attract birds such as Brolga, Australian Bustard, Australian Pratincole and in the wet season there is the chance of Wood Sandpiper, Pacific Golden Plover, Little Curlew, Oriental Pratincole, Long-toed Stint and Oriental Plover.
The Great Northern Highway heading south passes through Roebuck Plains Station. There is a stretch of a few kilometres across the black soil plains which is a good site to look for raptors such as Spotted Harrier, Brown Falcon, etc. At the southern end at the edge of the plain and the pindan there is a small ephemeral wetland close to the road (S18° 00“ 45" E122° 35“ 33"). Painted Snipe and other waders have been recorded here. I have seen Painted Finch on the edge of the pindan.
Broome Bird List (Microsoft Word 95) (104KB)
Department of Conservation & Land Management (CALM), Herbert St (08 9192 1036).
Broome Tourist Bureau, Broome Rd (08 9192 2222). http://www.ebroome.com
Chris Hassell & Adrian Boyle, Turnstone Nature Discovery, PO Box 3089, Broome WA 6725 (08 9192 8585) firstname.lastname@example.org
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