Last Sunday, April 9th, the tide in Broome was one of the highest of the year and peaked at 9.99m at 12.20pm. When we get these very big tides we don’t go to the coast until the ocean starts to recede and then the shorebirds are more relaxed. As the big tides push up the shorebirds have to keep moving and they are unsettled, but once the tide turns they are more relaxed. The header photo shows the bay in between the lighthouse at Gantheaume Point and Cable Beach. The ocean had been right up to the bottom of the cliffs and was receding rapidly.

Gantheaume Point an hour after high tide

You can’t easily access much of Gantheaume Point when the tide is in and even the birds struggle to find somewhere to roost. There are always a variety of shorebirds to be observed, but on the biggest tides they struggle to find a place to roost at Gantheaume Point. There are a pair of Pied Oystercatchers that reside at Gantheaume Point throughout the year and they last successfully bred in 2020.

Our first view of the small beach when we wandered through the rocks was of numerous shorebirds roosting. They were relaxed and waiting for the tide to fall enough for them to be able to feed once again. You can almost see how fast the tide was dropping from this series of photos. There were 15 Sooty Oystercatchers and it is a good location to observe them. All of the Grey-tailed Tattlers are now in good breeding plumage as they get ready to migrate to the Northern hemisphere and breed. The Whimbrel were relaxed after the high tide too. One stand out larger shorebird amongst the flock on the beach was the lone Beach Stone-curlew.

Shorebirds after high tide

There were also several Reef Egrets in the area and one was particularly relaxed after high tide.

Reef Egret roosting

As you can see there is some rather large natural debris dumped onto the rocks and beach. We have had some stormy weather over the past few months, but it will soon subside. The majority of the migratory shorebirds will head north and our local shorebirds will start to breed locally once again.

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!