At the moment we are observing thousands of shorebirds leave from Roebuck Bay each evening and head north on migration. Our home is actually under the flight path and some of the street names are quite appropriate-Sandpiper, Sanderling and Godwit are good examples! They make such perfect V formations as they fly north and the Eastern Curlew are the most vocal.
There is a lot of bird movement around Australia at the moment due to the weather, so time to go and investigate! Last weekend we drove just out of town to where the road has been flooded and observed thousands of birds that have taken advantage of the very wet “Wet” that we have experienced and bred like crazy. During July we would normally expect to have about 500 Black-winged Stilt in Roebuck Bay, but judging by what we saw we will have a lot more this year! It actually looked like the station owner was breeding birds rather than cattle! The land is so lush and green it would trick any unsuspecting visitor into thinking it was great grazing country. The Whiskered Terns and White-winged Black Terns were flying and feeding across the water…not exactly sure what the termites were up to as they deal with the flood…the row of lumps on the horizon are termite mounds.
White-winged Black Terns resting on the fence
We saw a lovely group of three Red-kneed Dotterel trying to find ground above water and there were 7 Sacred Kingfishers taking advantage of the fence to roost and pounce on tadpoles.
Not far from these we discovered there was another 35 of these birds and that is the most that we have seen in such a small area locally. This group were hanging out with some Plumed Whistling Ducks.
Plumed Whistling Ducks and Red-kneed Dotterel
We waded off the edge of the road to investigate what was in the fields apart from the hundreds of Straw-necked Ibis and discovered a kindergarten of Black-winged Stilt! All of the paddocks are teaming with juvenile birds and they will move towards the coast as the weather dries out in coming months.
Juvenile Black-winged Stilt
The water is still right to the edge of the road and it may well stay like that for quite some time. As the water contracts the birding will be brilliant as they all concentrate on the remaining water rather than being spread across such a vast land. Other wildlife also has to cope with all the lying water and we saw this Gould’s goanna on the bitumen road and it was having a bit of a look around to see if it could find anywhere dry that was not part of the road system!
Gould’s Goanna Varanus gouldii
We are not out of cyclone season yet and we are actually preparing for one (to be named Errol) as I write this. The low pressure system has already brought Fork-tailed Swifts into view. This will be a “Wet” season that all of the wildlife will remember.