In the past, when we have had a lot of rainfall in the Broome area during our wet season we have had the arrival of high numbers of Magpie Geese. In 2017 the arrival of the Magpie Geese warned us of the high rainfall ahead and then they bred in the area. The Magpie Geese bred again in the Broome area during 2018. This year we have had high numbers of Magpie Geese once again in the Broome area and this last weekend we observed our first family groups for the season. The Magpie Geese appear to be able to predict the rainfall and lush green vegetation that arrives following the rain much better than any computer modelling. We continue to bird-watch from the bitumen and rain continues to fall across the north of Australia. The highways continue to be repaired or closed at short notice and it will remain this way for quite some time yet.
The Magpie Geese families are on the move and the family groups that we saw last weekend all consisted of three adults and ten or more goslings. Each family group consisted of an adult male with a significant knob on its head and two females. The goslings are a ginger colour and were swimming away from the highway and would have no doubt crossed it prior to our arrival. The highway divides a huge expanse of flooded land and numerous bird species have bred in the area over recent weeks. The station fence that is underwater is approximately 700 metres from the bitumen and the Magpie Geese are able to either swim over the barbed wire or climb carefully over it.
Magpie Geese moving away from the highway and through the fence
We can expect there to be many more Magpie Geese in the area before the wet season is over. There are Magpie Geese standing on the station gates to get away from all of the water, which makes them a lot more visible than when they are in the tall vegetation that has grown in recent weeks.
Magpie Geese stood on gates to get away from the flooded landscape
We are always conscious of the fact that every flood event in the north of Australia brings cane toads closer to Broome. We know there will be a dramatic reduction in the population of our native wildlife when that happens. Although this photo below was taken through the windscreen it does show you that we do still have some decent sized lizards in the area at the moment.
Goanna crossing the highway
Although we can’t go far from home by vehicle, due to the flooding across the north of Australia, we are able to enjoy new life in our region. Magpie Geese don’t breed in the Broome area every year, so if you live in an area that normally encounters them and they appear to be “missing” then it is highly likely that we are enjoying their presence at the moment!
What astonishing geese! I wonder what evolutionary function that knob has on the male’s head? Maybe it just looks cool to the females? I hope you’re not marooned for too much longer.
Thank, Wendy. The knob gets bigger as they get older, but I don’t know of any function as such.