The highway heading south from Broome continues to offer great birdwatching opportunities. The landscape remains flooded, so you can only just go to the edge of the bitumen. The traffic has started to increase recently as the weather cools to the south. School holidays have started and everyone has been told to holiday in their own state. We are still all forbidden from leaving Australia and most people are cautious about going interstate in case the borders get closed again.

Last Monday we travelled the ten kilometres of highway across Roebuck Plains. There had been a lot of changes in the week since we had done that trip. It normally takes us around two hours to crawl along in our vehicle. We pull over as often as we can depending on how wet the edges are! There are more Swamp Harriers about now. There are still Magpie-larks and Masked Lapwings risking their lives in the middle of the highway.

Swamp Harrier soaring just to the right of the “depth” sign

Swamp Harrier-note the dragonfly in the bottom photo!

Alongside the Black Kites and Whistling Kites we observed a Brown Falcon and a soaring Black Breasted Buzzard.

Brown Falcon

Black-breasted Buzzard

The pair of Pacific Black Ducks that were roosting on a gate last week had not moved far!

Pacific Black Ducks

There are still Magpie Geese about, but the long vegetation can make it hard to see them sometimes. This one below was fairly obvious! Whiskered Terns continue to feed across the plains.

Magpie Goose and Whiskered Tern

Driving slowly we often have to wait for creatures to cross the highway. The goanna below sauntered across the highway in front of us. It stopped briefly to acknowledge us and then kept going. It actually appears to have a shorter tail than normal, so it maybe was not as cautious previously.

Goanna crossing the highway

Our biggest surprise of the drive was to see a Black-tailed Native-hen. There has not been one observed in the Broome area since May 2019, so this was a nice find. It was at a small water hole amongst some Whiskered Terns, Common Greenshank, Black-fronted Dotterels and Red-kneed Dotterels. There was a lone Black-tailed Native-hen in town in 2016 at the Sports Oval, so they don’t always travel in flocks!

Black-tailed Native-hen amongst Common Greenshank

We never tire of driving that section of highway after good rain events. The birdlife arrives in full force and you never know what you may observe. You need to allow plenty of time to truly absorb all that nature offers you! We are more than grateful for our surroundings here in Broome, Western Australia.

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!