In Broome we have six seasons and April is Marrul season. This season is a hot time of year where we are transitioning from the wet weather to the dry weather. The season is short, but it can be very hot with little wind, big tides and the migratory shorebirds are all setting off on their migration. The shorebirds will go to the northern hemisphere to breed and return to Broome later in the year.

Over recent months the rains have allowed the vegetation to grow very tall and we may get some “knock-em down” rains before April is out. The tall grass in the header photo has grown fast recently and is all throughout the bush.

The beaches have changed a lot over recent months and the big tides have moved a lot of sand about. Sandstone cliffs have eroded and natural debris has been dumped onto the beach. The photo below you can see that Oystercatchers and crabs have walked around the debris.

Natural debris

The migratory shorebirds are busy feeding along the coast getting ready for migration and many have started to get their breeding plumage. With the big tides in Broome they have plenty of reef and mudflats exposed each day where they can feed.

Bar-tailed Godwit

Great Knot feeding

Grey Plover

Sanderling and Red-necked Stint

Lesser Sand Plovers with breeding plumage

The Pied Oystercatchers remain in their breeding territories throughout the year at many locations around Broome, but there are sometimes disputes. Some of the Pied Oystercatchers are actively displaying “piping” at this time of year along our coast.

Pied Oystercatchers “piping”

Other Pied Oystercatcher pairs are just casually enjoying the coast. They wander along the tide line rather than fly and in a few months time they will be nesting once again.

Pied Oystercatchers

With rather less wind I was able to capture several Lesser Frigatebirds in flight as they soared along the coast last weekend. Despite being “lesser” they are still a substantial size with a wing-span of between 155cm and 193cm. A Great Frigatebird is much larger.

Lesser Frigatebirds

We are now experiencing days that are almost cloud-free and then all of a sudden there are wisps of clouds in the late afternoon. It adds to a beautiful sunset over the Indian Ocean. Other days we are still experiencing late afternoon storms.

Sunset over the Indian Ocean

The Marrul season will remain unsettled for about a month and then we will have cooler nights, foggy mornings and dry days.

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!