Following an exceptionally wet start to the year we are getting used to finding bird species around Broome that we do not encounter every year. A fine example was on Friday 18th May at the Broome Poo Ponds. We had just dropped our vehicle off for a wheel alignment and the Poo Ponds are conveniently located almost opposite and so we wandered over the road to see what had arrived since our last visit. There has been a steady increase of Plumed Whistling-Ducks, which now number in the thousands, and trying to find any other birds among them is quite problematic due to their large numbers. Having spent some time at the Barndarlmada Hut we continued to circumnavigate the fence to return to collect our vehicle. I suddenly saw a small bird hop on the ground not too dissimilar to an Australasian Pipit. We both immediately raised our binoculars to our eyes and realised it was a Crimson Chat actively feeding along the fence and nipping in and out as it fed. This was not our first encounter for 2018 around Broome, because we had in fact observed them close to the Broome Bird Observatory on April 29th.  There were four Crimson Chats present on that date and they had in fact been added to the year list a few days earlier than the more common Yellow Chat. The lone Crimson Chat at the Poo Ponds briefly crossed the track and got chased off by a Paperbark Flycatcher and returned to feed in front of us. It was not an easy bird to photograph as it nipped back and forth through the fence whilst it fed, but it was not particularly bothered by our presence.

Crimson Chat nipping in and out of the fence at the Poo Ponds

As you can see the Crimson Chat was not the reddest of birds and rarely turned towards us, so I have had to crop the photo below to show the breast of the individual bird.

Crimson Chat

A fine example of a male Crimson Chat is at the bottom of the post on Yellow Chats and there is a photo of a male Orange Chat on my Tennant Creek Poo Ponds post from last year. We have observed White-fronted Chats as well this year in the south of Western Australia, but were unable to photograph them as they hopped around the salt-bush.

Broome is a birder’s paradise even if you are just going to get your vehicle wheel alignment done and decide to wander over to the Poo Ponds! It is just a matter of spotting something that isn’t a Plumed Whistling-Duck at the moment, because they outnumber everything else!

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!