This week as we continue our showcase of the ‘Birds Around Broome series’ we focus on some of the birds found in the gardens and bush around the town Broome (including Cable Beach). As birders know well, some of the best birding is found in gardens, car parks, in the streets and by the roadside where there is ample light and open space to observe the bird in sunlight and photograph it. Click on photo to enlarge it.
It was an interesting change to be in a place where there were no Magpies, Kookaburras and Noisy Miners, and where the dominant bird of authority was the Magpie-lark or ‘PeeWee’ (replacing the Magpie) and the Little Friarbird (replacing the Wattlebird which they also sounded very similar to). Everywhere we went we heard the many different calls of the Little Friarbird. Sometimes we would think we had found a new bird, but it was just one of the many calls of this bird.
Though we have Magpie-larks in Sydney, they do not hold supremacy over other birds like they do in Broome. I even saw the Magpie Lark attacking the Pied Butcherbird.
They are not a large bird and do not have the strong hooked beak of the reptile and bird eating birds, but they command attention in Broome.
Another power play I witnessed above the mangroves was from the Terresian Crow, found in the northern Australia, which is the main scavenger competing with the Black Kites. Above a Terresian Crow attacks a Brown Kite, making it fly off.
These crows are noisy and boisterous in a similar way to our Australian Raven.
Some of the birds we saw were in the gardens and trees of our accommodation while in Cable beach. Roger Smith, our New Zealand birder friend, we met in Broome, shared these pictures with me of the Pheasant Coucal, a bird I have not yet seen, but he saw in the grounds of our accommodation. We looked several times but it never returned. He has graciously shared these photos for your enjoyment.
The Singing Honeyeater was a frequently sighted bird which is found right along the west coast of Western Australia from top to bottom.
The Brown Honeyeater is another common inhabitant in Broome.
This White-gaped Honeyeater was a lifer for us, and not so commonly seen. The adult has a white gape on its face and the juvenile a yellow gape, as pictured above.
The Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, common to the eastern states, is also a common bird here in Broome.
The Grey-crowned Babbler was also a very commonly seen bird around town, chattering in small family groups. This is a bird rarely seen in residential places in the eastern states.
One of my favourite song birds is the Pied Butcherbird, which is common here in Broome, and also in northern NSW. I remember when living in the country the melodious sound of this bird. Notice the juvenile colours. The Grey Butcherbird is its common relative found in Sydney, I have one that visits me each day at home, bathing in the dog’s water bowl.
Two very large flocks of birds passed over several times while in the main street of Broome on the same day. A massive flock of Little Corella, literally hundreds of birds, took several minutes to pass over, while my wife was checking a dress shop out. A little later a large flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo flew over.
The Rainbow Bee-eater is another common bird, often identified by its ‘zit zitting’ call.
The Great Bowerbird was quite common around town. I saw it in trees in main street and in the grounds of the Broome Museum. I did not know till later two days later,at the Bird Sanctuary, that I had photographed another lifer. I read that several bowers existed around town.
Two kinds of Ibis were seen commonly in the parks and grassed areas of Broome. Both the Straw-necked and Australian White Ibis were common.
One beautiful bird from this northern region which was common here is the Red-winged Parrot, resting in a large Boab tree (‘bottle tree’)
The Boab is a peculiar tree endemic to far north-western Australia. It is not native to Broome, but many are growing there.
These juvenile Red-winged Parrots were feeding on flowers near the entrance to our accommodation. They were so engrossed that they did not mind us watching,
One of the top birding places behind the main street of Broome which goes out amongst the mangroves is Streeter’s Warf, a historic warf, now in disuse, but a great place to see mangrove birds.
Here we got our best pictures of the Yellow White-eye a very small silvereye very difficult to photograph. Other birds proved very elusive such as the Mangrove Golden Whistler, which I never managed to photograph.
My Bird of the Week – The Red-headed Honeyeater
The Red-headed Honeyeater was a wonderful find and another lifer, which we found in the mangroves near Streeter’s Warf. The Red-headed Honeyeater is endemic to the far north of Australia, from Broome across the top over to Cape York. It is such a stunning bird to see in bright sunlight. We were in raptures when both male and female birds surrounded us in a car park near the mangroves. The female has only a faint red facial colouring. They feed on nectar from flowers and insects, which they pluck from the air with amazing aerial acrobatics. They are so fast, it is amazing we got the photos we did, and we were so thankful they sat for a few seconds so close to us. The make a sharp loud scratchy call which is quite unique to this bird.
On the beaches of Roebuck Bay at low tide I saw Black-winged Stilts and Silver Gull sharing the shallows, birds common to our mudflats at home.
Two common raptors, which I will feature next week with the other raptors of Broome, are the Black Kite and the Brahminy Kite. Black kites are seen constantly hovering and circling over parts of Cable Beach and Broome.
When the clouds turned up one evening, we had ‘fire in the sky’ sunset at Cable beach.
But this was the sunset we enjoyed most evenings, reminding us…
“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” – Psalm 113:3