If you happen to be driving the highway from the North-west coastal highway towards Marble Bar there are a few obvious places to pull over to bird. There are a few river crossings that are dry for most of the year along the highway, but there are always small pools of water. Doolena Gorge is always worth a visit for its natural beauty. We have always found water at Doolena Gorge and therefore birdlife. Painted Finch collect the charcoal from the fireplaces in the area.

Continuing down the highway from Doolena Gorge towards Marble Bar you pass through a spectacular rock formation with a brand new section of bitumen. About 7 kilometres beyond Doolena Gorge, or about 35 kilometres from Marble Bar there is a turn-off onto a gravel road that takes you towards Coppins Gap. If you do not have a four-wheel drive then it is best you do not venture too far from the bitumen, but I recommend that you go the few hundred metres to the causeway across the creek. There has always been a small pool of water at the causeway when we have visited and it is frequented by many birds. The header photo shows the view of the small pool of water from a vehicle parked on the causeway using it as a hide. I would recommend that you check out the birdlife all the way across the concrete causeway. You can drive or walk slowly there and back. It is incredible how many species you can see in a few minutes.

We were surprised to see a pair of Common Bronzewings. One was in a tree and we are more familiar with them being on the ground. The Brown Quail were being rather sneaky in the long grass and hard to photograph before they bolted from view!

Common Bronzewing

Brown Quail nipping off into the dry grass

As you would expect there were Crested Pigeons coming down for a drink. There were plentiful Diamond Doves and Peaceful Doves. There was no other water nearby, so within a few minutes we observed numerous species. 

Crested Pigeon

The most common species of finch was the Painted Finch and large flocks came in to drink from the small pool of water. They were very cautious and only came down to drink momentarily. There were Zebra Finch amongst them too. 

Painted Finch

This small pool of water was one of the best places that we had been to in the Pilbara that offered large numbers of Spinifex Pigeons. They were all running down to the water and appeared from nowhere due to their good camouflage. 

Spinifex Pigeons

Other birds that we observed at the pool were Little Corellas, Galahs, Rufous Whistler, White-plumed Honeyeaters, White-faced Heron, Tree Martin, Magpie-lark, Whistling Kite, Black-faced Woodswallow, Rainbow Bee-eater, Australian Ringneck, Torresian Crow, Cockatiel, Sacred Kingfisher, Brown Honeyeater, Australasian Darter and Grey-crowned Babbler. We were only there for about thirty minutes, so no doubt if you stayed longer you would observe more! It is definitely worth leaving the bitumen briefly to check out this causeway. 

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!