The definition of a borrow pit is rather odd, because you are not actually borrowing anything. Gravel, clay or sand is removed for highway construction and it is not “borrowed” as such, because it doesn’t go back! This actually benefits our local wildlife, because the rainwater then gets trapped in the borrow pit and in some instances it will sustain the wildlife right through our dry months when there is no rainfall at all. From roughly April to December we are lucky to have any rain and so the remaining water in these borrow pits is always worth visiting. This particular borrow pit is right beside the highway around seventy kilometres from Broome and is always worth stopping at. After our wet season ended this year you couldn’t actually leave the highway to check it out, because it was flooded up to the highway.

The borrow pit has one deep section of water and it is popular with Australasian Grebes. The other section is longer and shallow and both areas are surrounded by tall trees. It is often a lot hotter there than closer to the coast and many bird species roost in the area or come in for a drink and bathe during the day. It is a popular area for Red-tailed Black Cockatoos and recently there have been over 100 in the surrounding trees. Often there are Black-winged Stilts, Masked Lapwings and White-faced Herons as in the photo below.

Borrow pit birds

When the trees are busy with Little Corellas and Red-tailed Black Cockatoos it does make it hard to hear anything else that is around the borrow pits! Last Sunday there were plenty of bird species to see and it was easy enough to stand in the shade and watch the birds come in for a drink. Rufous-throated Honeyeaters, Brown Honeyeaters, Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters, Peaceful Doves, Rainbow Bee-eaters, Whistling Kites, Black Kites, Zebra Finch, Long-tailed Finch and Double-barred Finch were all making the most of the water at the borrow pits.

Little Corella and Red-tailed Black Cockatoos

Red-tailed Black Cockatoos

Now the water level has dropped back you can walk around to the pit just out the back and circumnavigate the deeper pit to return to your vehicle besides the highway.

The shallow pit out the back attracts different bird species and there were Torresian Crows, Straw-necked Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Common Greenshank, Pacific Black Ducks, Magpie-larks, Black-fronted Dotterels, Paperbark Flycatchers, Little Friarbird, Diamond Doves and an Intermediate Egret present.

Intermediate Egret

If you are heading from Broome towards Derby it is always worth pulling in at these borrow pits about seventy kilometres from town. It takes roughly 50 minutes to get there and it is not signposted. It is on your left and you will no doubt either see the birdlife in the area or notice the cattle wandering on the edge of the highway. The cattle tend to wander beside the edge of the highway in areas where the fences have failed and they are also attracted to the water at the borrow pits. There is an eBird list for the location, which may help you get there if you have the app.

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!