September is always an interesting month as we observe the shorebirds return to Broome from their northerly migration. The shorebirds gather on Cable Beach from around two hours before until two hours after high tide. The variety of shorebirds among the flock enables you to encounter several species quite easily, but sometimes there is an odd shorebird that stands out among the flock. Last week I shared the first encounter with a Little Curlew on Cable Beach returning from migration. Little Curlew have continued to increase in numbers over the week as have all of the migratory shorebirds.
On 19th September I encountered the first returning Broad-billed Sandpiper on Cable Beach. Broad-billed Sandpipers could easily be overlooked among the large flocks of Red-necked Stint on Cable Beach due to their similar size. Although the Curlew Sandpiper also has a down curved bill it is a substantially larger shorebird when compared to the Broad-billed Sandpiper. The bill of a Broad-billed Sandpiper is also much wider closer to the head.
Once the tide started to recede I was able to watch the Red-necked Stint and Red-capped Plovers move forward to feed. As the shorebirds spread out I was able to photograph the lone Broad-billed Sandpiper. Without the bill profile being shown the Broad-billed Sandpiper would be a shorebird that could easily be overlooked. In the header photo the Broad-billed Sandpiper is the second bird from the left.
Broad-billed Sandpiper on the right with three Red-necked Stint
Broad-billed Sandpiper with Red-capped Plover and Red-necked Stint
Although Broad-billed Sandpipers are one of many shorebirds found around the Broome coastline they are one of the harder species to photograph. They are often hidden among the other shorebirds and so I was delighted to finally capture one with my camera on Cable Beach recently.