As I mentioned last week we had a few days away birding and camping and I will tell you about some other places that are good to look for birds around the Derby area.

Derby is approximately 225kms from Broome and there are a few water crossings before you get there. The first significant water body worth stopping at is about 50kms to the south and you can easily pull over after you have crossed the bridge at Cockatoo Creek. The first thing you will notice are the fresh water crocodiles lounging around in the sun absorbing the warmth.

Fresh water crocodiles enjoying the sunshine

We chose to have a wander around the area, which is actually a lagoon at this time of year and totalled 39 species in an hour even mid-morning. There was a wide variety of birds including Brolga, Black-necked Stork, Royal Spoonbills and a variety of honeyeaters, herons, raptors, ducks, finches and doves to name a few.

Royal Spoonbills in flight Cockatoo Creek

We then headed closer to Derby and visited a wetland approximately 20kms south of the town. This is great bird habitat and people are advised at the gate to not shoot them or anything else. There were even more species present here and a perfect place for a picnic lunch. Additional species included Green Pygmy-geese, Wood Sandpiper, White-faced Heron, Gull-billed Tern, Red-backed Kingfisher and Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo to name a few.

Brolga south of Derby

Red-kneed Dotterel

If you wish to see a Saltwater crocodile then you should plan around the tides in Derby, as they are the largest tides in the north-west and apparently second largest in the world. We got to the wharf on low tide hoping to possibly see some birdlife on the mudflats, but only found a rather small and distant crocodile and a lone Whimbrel.

Saltwater crocodile near Derby wharf

Good places to go looking for birdlife are where there is still water during the Dry Season. We knew of a dam that was about 90kms from Derby on the Gibb River Road and a perfect place to watch birds get their first and last drink of the day. Thankfully the dam is just before the start of the relentless corrugations of the gravel road and we stopped by to observe the wildlife.

Corrugations at the start of the gravel Gibb River Road

Dam alongside the Gibb River Road

The noisiest birds and undoubtedly the most colourful birds to visit for a drink were the Galahs.

Galahs drinking at the dam

Just as the gravel road started we noticed a lot of activity around a small water body and investigated. Fairy Martins were in constant flight around the area and had started to nest in the culverts.

The small water body and culverts being used by Fairy Martin

The most adorable thing we found around this area was a small bird footprint encrusted in the mud from the last Wet Season. It was most likely a dotterel’s print.

Bird footprint in the dry mud

Our last stop on our return trip to Broome was at midday and we were not expecting a lot of bird activity, but we could not have been more wrong. There is a small dam beside the Great Northern Highway approximately 80kms from Broome and we pulled over as we could see rather a lot of Diamond Doves. This turned out to be an understatement as we counted over 2000-yes, two thousand, of them racing in for a drink and trying hard to avoid the raptors that were also present. We had never seen anything as extreme as this before and it was the most incredible sight. They didn’t stay in the area long at all, getting a drink and dispersing back into the bush.

 A small percentage of the Diamond Doves present-only about 70 here!

If you ever get a chance to head towards Derby then you should-we added three more species to our year list and had a great time birding and camping!

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!