On Monday we went from Broome to Derby. We left home just before 8am when we hoped most of the wallabies had moved away from the highway. There are always stray cattle to watch out for, but we prefer to minimize the risk of hitting animals by leaving on road trips until a couple of hours after sunrise. Our first stop was at Cockatoo Creek, which is a waterhole at this time of year under the double width bridge before you reach the Willare Roadhouse. Approaching the bridge around 9am we could see huge numbers of Galahs at the water’s edge drinking. We slowed down and pulled over on the far side of the bridge where there is a stone plaque to commemorate the opening of the bridge.
Galahs at the water’s edge
We soon realised that it was not just the several hundred Galahs drinking at the water’s edge, but the surrounding trees were full of Galahs. There are hundreds of Galahs in the header photo in the trees. Due to the lack of rain during what should have been our Wet Season at the start of the year there are now huge concentrations of some bird species that we would normally only see in small numbers. The number of Galahs at Cockatoo Creek on Monday was incredible and one of the largest flocks we have observed. They numbered in excess of 750 individual birds and that is a conservative estimate. We were unable to see all of the birds, but they were clearly relying on the presence of the remaining muddy water in the pool. There is a variation in the colour of Galahs around Australia and the ones in the Kimberley are not as pink as some other areas. Cockatoo Creek had stopped flowing many months ago, but the water that remained was a good water source for the cattle in the area and also the birdlife. On the other side of the bridge there were over 250 Cockatiels roosting in the trees and dropping down to drink.
Galahs in the trees
Of course it is an excellent place to stop if you need to observe freshwater crocodiles from the safety of the bridge!
We continued on to Derby and visited the wharf. We were lucky to find a Great-billed Heron closer than we had on previous years to the south of the boat ramp. We also visited the Derby Poo Ponds where we found our first Radjah Shelduck for the year. We went out to the small airport and saw the Masked Lapwings guarding their patch. Although you can easily go to Derby for a day trip from Broome we chose to go and camp at Langi Crossing on the way home. We stopped at Cockatoo Creek once again on the way south and not only were there Galahs drinking, but Brolga had also joined them later in the day.
If you are travelling between Broome and Derby then make sure you keep a few minutes up your sleeve, so that you can enjoy the birdlife at Cockatoo Creek!