Over the past few weeks we have been observing a steady increase in the number of Flock Bronzewings around the Broome area. For the past couple of years we have only been observing a lone pair of Flock Bronzewings, which I have documented before. Large flocks of Flock Bronzewing are unusual in the Broome, but do occur occasionally. There have now been several occasions near Broome this year where we have seen small flocks of a dozen birds. On one occasion we encountered thirty birds in three small flocks. This is quite different to the encounter that we had last year of hundreds of Flock Bronzewings in the dry north of the Northern Territory on the Barkly Tablelands in July when the birds were all attracted to a dam for water in the early morning.

Despite the Flock Bronzewing being a large bird it is heavily camouflaged on the dirt and blends in quite well and could easily be overlooked. We have been observing them feed on the grass that has grown over the land during our unusually wet start to 2018 and the area they are frequenting offers no shade or protection, so they are constantly wary. In flight the Flock Bronzewing is a distinct large bird that is much rounder than any other bird species locally. The Flock Bronzewings that we have been observing make short circular flights, but always returned to the same area to feed.

Flock Bronzewings feeding and being wary

Flock Bronzewing stretching-Australian Pratincole upper right

The flock of twelve Flock Bronzewings did eventually walk down to the water that remained after our rainy season and drank cautiously from the edges. We were not prepared to get any closer than we already were to get better photos, but you can clearly see the twelve Flock Bronzewings.

Flock Bronzewings drinking

I have looked back at our old notebooks and the last time we had a really good sized flock of Flock Bronzewings was on 14th November 2011. Maybe the numbers will increase again later in the year to the numbers we observed then or maybe they will all disappear again to parts unknown!

Flock Bronzewings November 2011

Despite the name of the Flock Bronzewing implying a bird that you would see in a flock that is not the norm around Broome!

We are very lucky to live in an area that the birding is so varied and forever changing. Our migratory shorebirds are now returning from the Northern Hemisphere and as the land changes so do the birds.

Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!