The Black-fronted Dotterel is a small distinctive shorebird that is usually found near fresh water and is often heard before it is seen. It is present both in Broome itself and also surrounding ephemeral lakes and appears to breed throughout the year if the conditions are right. We often come across their nests by accident and always drive slowly near fresh water bodies for this reason. They will sit tight on the eggs even if you are within a few metres of the nest and are very reluctant to move. They could easily be overlooked by someone who is not observant and no doubt the birds are relying on this to some extent. The presence of a vehicle appears to be much less of a threat than a person on foot and as a result of this we have obtained some close photos of the Black-fronted Dotterel. This small shorebird is throughout most of Australia and has also self-introduced itself to New Zealand. This appears to have started in the 1950’s in southern Hawke’s Bay.

We have come across these birds beside flooded gravel roads as well as beside lakes and they have nested in a variety of locations with a variety of effort in their nest building.

Black-fronted Dotterel beside a flooded gravel road

Black-fronted Dotterel on a nest

Black-fronted Dotterel nest

Black-fronted Dotterel nest with three eggs

Black-fronted Dotterel nest with 2 eggs

 Black-fronted Dotterel nest with more effort than normal

We have even come across a Black-fronted Dotterel right in town in a carpark at the local sport’s field. Luckily it was just outside the area where most cars would be at the weekend.

At any time that we have accidentally come across a nest site we have moved away as quickly and as carefully as possible.

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!