For many years we have peered through the fence at the Poo Ponds here in Broome and we have stood on our roo bars, balanced on the side steps, stood on roof racks and stood in the back of trays of utes in a desperate attempt to see into the ponds! We have driven around slowly and pondered over the areas we can’t see properly and wondered what species of bird are eluding us! There are always plenty of birds to see, but what if we could see in better!? Even staying in your vehicle offers great opportunities as birds bathe close to the fence regardless of your presence! Finally last year everything changed and a hut was built for bird watching! The Barndarlmarda Hut is best used in the afternoon for the light over the ponds, but at any time there are birds to be observed. The track around the fence remains a dirt track, which can become very muddy after rain and the hut is not sign-posted from where you enter the Waste Water Treatment Plant off Clementson Street, but you can see it as you approach the ponds diagonally opposite. It is advisable to turn immediately right at the fence to reach the hut, because following the track straight ahead and around can be muddy after rain.

There is no actual car park as such, but you can pull over on the track so other vehicles can pass by. The gate opens outwards and the gravel slope is rather steep, but most people will be able to access the hut. There are no seating facilities, but the concrete slab allows you to bring your own chairs and there are great views across most of the ponds. There is an explanation board about the birds that you may be able to observe at the Poo Ponds and it can be a reliable spot for Eastern Yellow Wagtails. The location of the new bird-watching hut is where we all used to balance precariously on our vehicles to look in and find the Semipalmated Plover that first arrived at this location late in 2009. We had more success photographing the Semipalmated Plover on the beach nearby due to the fence! The Semipalmated Plover gets an honourable mention on the display boards at the hut, but sadly it has not been observed back in Broome since it left on migration around April 2017.

View from the hut late afternoon

Plumed Whistling-Ducks and Whiskered Terns in flight

Selection of birds seen from the hut

Australian Pelicans, Silver Gulls and Black-winged Stilts

Eurasian Coots and Royal Spoonbills

Plumed Whistling-Ducks

Assortment of birds roosting at the ponds

The Broome Poo Ponds have always been great for bird-watching, but now we have much better views across the ponds and some shade! Sadly there is no longer grass for Swinhoe’s Snipe along the near fence where we used to observe them on a regular basis during our tropical summer. It would be nice to have that area vegetated once again, but for now we will enjoy the new bird-watching hut!

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!