Last Sunday we had a bit of driving to do. Well, more than a bit of driving due to the fact that we had to get from Broome to Kununurra, which is an 11+ hour drive. In distance it is 1045 kilometres or 658 miles and that is a lot of road, a lot of white lines, a lot of bush and of course, hopefully a lot of birds to write down! We had planned to leave home early, but when we woke at 02:30am and could not get back to sleep we decided to just get up and hit the road. It meant the first bird on our list at 03:35am, which was also a first for the year, was a Tawny Frogmouth only metres from home. It was too dark for birding until about 06:00am and then the next bird on the list was Grey-crowned Babblers. I was then busy writing a bird list from then on.

The first stop was at the first town, Fitzroy Crossing, and that was for fuel 4 1/2 hours up the Great Northern Highway. Geikie Gorge is close by, but we did not have the time to venture off to bird the gorge on this trip. We had small flocks of Cockatiels and Budgerigars to add to the year list between Broome and Fitzroy Crossing. We then continued on towards Halls Creek, another 3 hours up the road. There was a lot of roadkill, mostly wallabies, and there were plenty of raptors feasting. Black Kites and Whistling Kites are always quite quick at taking off as you approach, but the largest raptor the Wedge-tailed Eagle, is not as agile and they need time to lift off and you really need to allow them time and space. We saw an incredible 14 Wedge-tailed Eagles feasting on roadkill between Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek.

Halls Creek was another fuel stop, but we did a detour to the outskirts of town to the Poo Ponds. We had to visit the Poo Ponds, because we had encountered some good birds there last year and a there was a chance to add a few species to the year list. The Poo Ponds are fuller than last year, but we still had nice flocks of finches and mannikins. Pictorella Mannikins and Grey-fronted Honeyeaters were added to the year list and we headed on north. This was a slight delay to our long drive, but worth it in every way.

It was 11 1/2 hours after leaving home that we finally reached Kununurra, well the Poo Ponds! We were not going to drive by there without doing a lap! You can’t get into the actual ponds, but there are good views through the fence. As you can see from the new sign in the header, there is a “drowning potential”!! The wallabies are able to get in due to the fact that they dig under the fence to get to water and despite the ongoing repairs they keep digging. In Broome they have buried the fence deeper to prevent them entering, but in Kununurra they have not and the wallabies take advantage of it.


Wallaby (2)

Wallabies at the Poo Ponds

There were Plumed Whistling-Ducks, Radjah Shelducks with ducklings, Common Sandpipers, Wood Sandpipers, Pied Herons, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilt and Magpie Geese. Whiskered Terns dipped across the water surface and Black-fronted Dotterels balanced on what you could call “solids”! A Black Falcon was perched in the top of a tree as we circumnavigated the ponds and Peaceful and Diamond Doves flew in over the fence for water.

Kununurra Poo Ponds

 Some of the bird-life inside the Poo Ponds!

Kununurra Poo Ponds (2)

 Common Sandpiper, Magpie Geese, Plumed Whistling-Ducks, Black-winged Stilt and Radjah Shelducks

Kununurra Poo Ponds (3)

 Glossy Ibis, Plumed Whistling-Ducks and Radjah Shelducks

Kununurra Poo Ponds (4)

 Plumed Whistling-Ducks and Radjah Shelducks

Kununurra Poo Ponds (5)

 Glossy Ibis, Plumed Whistling-Ducks and Radjah Shelducks

Kununurra Poo Ponds (6)

 Plumed Whistling-Ducks and Radjah Shelducks

Kununurra Poo Ponds (7)

Kununurra Poo Ponds (8)

 Magpie Goose, Plumed Whistling-Ducks, Radjah Shelducks and Black-winged Stilt

Kununurra Poo Ponds (9)

Plumed Whistling-Ducks, Radjah Shelducks and a Black-winged Stilt

There was one more stop before we caught up on sleep in Kununurra and that was Lily Creek Lagoon. This was our opportunity to observe Comb-crested Jacanas and Crimson Finches along with Blue-faced Honeyeaters and add a few more birds to the year list.

No visit to Kununurra is complete without a trip to the Poo Ponds!

The journey north continued the next day……..

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!